Stadio Giuseppe Meazza
Sunday, March 17, 14:00 Hrs GMT
Milan will be looking to bounce back from their disappointing mid-week loss to Barcelona. What looked like a tiny window of opportunity to extend their European run was dealt a swift and crushing end with Messi returning to form, ending the debate once and for all about his inability to score against Italian defences. With everything out of their way now, Milan will be looking to consolidate the third spot and inch closer to the second place.
Palermo have been the epitome of instability in Serie A and their recent antics do not bode well for them. After firing Gasperini recently, that too for the second time, Zamparini appointed Sannino for the second time this season. Strangely, the total number of wins for Palermo is 3, one less than the number of coaches they’ve had this season. Finding themselves rooted to the bottom, Palermo very well know what awaits them in the future.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Milan will be missing the likes of De Jong and Pazzini for this match, and according to some reports, Pazzini might be back in the team to face Chievo at the end of the month. Constant, who picked up a double booking against Genoa will also be missing this match due to suspension. The injury to Pazzini came at a bad moment and his experience was indeed missed against Barcelona. On top of it, he was finally back amongst goals when the injury struck against Genoa.
Allegri will field a 4-3-3 formation in this match to accommodate his attacking trident. This has been the most successful formation this season and Milan are yet to lose a match since January. After being under fire for a horrible start to their campaign, Milan, led by Allegri, have climbed their way back to the top. Catching Juventus might be out of the window right now, but what Milan can focus on for the rest of the season is to close the gap with Napoli and if possible topple them and regain second spot in Serie A.
Abbiati will reprise his role under the bars with the Milan back-line being formed by Abate on the right and De Sciglio on the left. The central defensive duo for this match will be Mexes and Zapata. Although De Sciglio is more suited to play on the right, he will start on the left side of defence in this match. Other than the absence of Constant due to suspension, Allegri has no suspended defenders in the team. Montolivo will start just ahead of the defence and will be the main creative source from the middle of the park. Flamini and Muntari are likely to feature on the right and left side of the midfield respectively.
The forward line sees the pairing of Balotelli through the middle and El Shaarawy on the left. Accompanying them on the right flank will be Boateng, who might be dropped down the field should Niang come on as a substitute later on.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Abbiati(GK); Abate, Mexes, Zapata, De Sciglio; Flamini, Montolivo, Muntari; Boateng, Balotelli, El Shaarawy
Palermo have been reeling under managerial changes this season. So much so, they now have had two managers who have returned after being sacked at some point during the same season. The lack of stability at the top is destabilizing the club and there is only one man worthy of taking the blame for this – Zamparini. Palermo will be missing the likes of Barreto, Dossena, Hernandez and Mantovani for this match. Already rooted to the bottom of the table, another loss will surely send them spiraling into Serie B come next season.
Palermo are prone to making individual errors quite often and are also susceptible against defending from attacks down the wings – qualities which have hit them hard this season. On top of this, they are quite horrible in defending from through ball attacks and also lack the ability to finish off chances. In spite of all these, they are strong in winning the ball from the opposition and also like to play a short passing game with the occasional fondness for the long ball.
Palermo will field a 3-5-2 formation with Sorrentino betweeen the bars. The back-line will be formed by Munoz on the right, Von Bergen at the center and Aronica on the left. The midfield will be packed by the likes of Morganella and Rios on the right, Donati through the center and Kurtic and Garcia on the left. The forward line sees the pairing of Boselli and Miccoli, who have scored 5 goals between them this season.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-2): Sorrentino(GK); Munoz, Von Bergen, Aronica; Morganella, Rios, Donati, Kurtic, Garcia; Boselli, Miccoli
Player to Watch Out For
Mario Balotelli (Milan)
He has been on an amazing run since his return to Serie A in January. Five goals in as many matches speaks volumes of his desire and his sheer inborn talent to find the back of the net regularly. Milan will be hoping that Balotelli keeps on scoring goals come the end of the season, which in turn will inch them closer to the second spot in the league. The trio of Balotelli – El Shaarawy – Boateng will be looking to keep the Palermo back-line busy with Balotelli leading the charge through the center.
Milan 2 – 0 Palermo
Milan will be looking to bounce back strong after their midweek loss to Barcelona in the Champions League. With nothing other than European qualification at stake, Milan will go out all guns blazing in order to capture all three points. Expect Balotelli to once again be on the score-sheet along with El Shaarawy.
Blast From The Past