Stadio Giuseppe Meazza
Sunday, April 5, 13:00 Hrs GMT
Milan take on Torino at home this weekend, with Fiorentina facing off against Roma a day before. With only one point separating the hosts from Fiorentina, the race for the third spot in Serie A has gotten hotter by the match-day. Milan are coming off a 4-2 victory over Catania, where Pazzini grabbed a brace and Balotelli, a late penalty. Milan cannot afford to lose focus in this match since they very well know they will be chasing Fiorentina once more should the latter win against Roma.
Torino, on the other hand are coming off a derby loss to Juventus. The loss hurt them bad with calls for a penalty in the dying minutes falling on deaf ears. Four points clear of the relegation zone and with four matches to go till the end of this Serie A season, Torino cannot afford to lose points or focus against their remaining opponents.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Milan will be missing the likes of De Jong, Ambrosini, Bojan and Montolivo for this match through injury. The good news from Milanello is that Abbiati has returned to training. However, Antonini and Pazzini were not able to complete training due to fitness concerns. Among the absentees, the one whose absence will be felt the most will be Montolivo. He has been in imperial form this season and is the chief orchestrator in the Milan midfield. Pazzini has been in good goal-scoring touch this season, and his absence is also likely to be felt should Balotelli and El Shaarawy fail to deliver.
Allegri will field a 4-3-3 formation for this match. The past week has been awash with rumors of ex-Milan players being linked to the coach’s post. However, the Milan fans have shown their solidarity towards Allegri by brandishing a banner in the previous match against Catania. Over the last few days, Montolivo and De Sciglio have spoken out in support of Allegri; however, it remains to be seen what happens once this Serie A season is done and dusted. The decision to sack or retain Allegri will be taken by Berlusconi, although his departure could create an unpleasant situation at the club.
Abbiati will start this match under the bars with the Milan back-line being formed by Abate on the right, De Sciglio on the left and Bonera and Mexes forming the central defensive pair. In the likely absence of Montolivo and Ambrosini, the midfield will see a change in personnel. Flamini will start on the right with Nocerino starting on the left of midfield. Muntari will be used as a defensive screen in this match. However, playing Muntari might reduce Milan’s attacking prowess but will definitely lead to a solid midfield lineup. Flamini has been in goal-scoring touch for the last few matches and should look to score more and push for a longer contract.
The attacking trident will be formed by Boateng on the right, Balotelli through the center and El Shaarawy on the left. Boateng will be deployed more as a wide forward, although he has spoken against being shuffled around in the field. Niang and Robinho could get a look in later on in this match.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Abbiati(GK); Abate, Bonera, Mexes, De Sciglio; Flamini, Muntari, Nocerino; Boateng, Balotelli, El Shaarawy
Torino have got their entire squad at their disposal for this match except for Glik, who is out through suspension. Torino have been win-less in their last five Serie A encounters and will look to reverse that trend in this upcoming match. Hovering in the relegation zone, their players are desperate to secure safety first and then focus on their other objectives. The loss to Juventus hurt them bad and although manager Giampiero Ventura believes that they could’ve come away with a point, a late surge from Juventus saw them home.
Matteo Darmian and Ogbonna have created the most nuisance for their oppositions this season and Milan will be looking to minimize their overall impact in the game. They are a strong unit in counter attacks and look to attack down the wings. They are exceptional in creating chances through individual brilliance, however they lack the ability to protect their lead. Aerial duels and dispossessing the opposition are their strong areas, however their players are found in an offside position more often than not. Also, Torino find it difficult to control skilled players and defending against long shots – something Milan can look to exploit in this match.
Torino will field a 4-2-3-1 formation with Gillet under the bars. The back-line will be formed by Di Cesare and Ogbonna at the center with Darmian on the right and Masiello on the left. The two defensive midfielders will be Brighi and Basha. The three-man midfield will see the likes of Cerci on the right, Vives through the center and Santana on the left. The lone striker for this match will be Barreto.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Gillet(GK); Darmian, Di Cesare, Ogbonna, Masiello; Brighi, Basha; Cerci, Vives, Santana; Barreto
Player to Watch Out For
Mario Balotelli (Milan)
Balotelli has been a revelation ever since his move to Milanello in the winter transfer window. Having scored 8 goals so far, he has been instrumental in Milan’s impressive run in 2013. Absent through suspension against Napoli and Juventus, Balotelli will look to make amends in the remaining matches of the season and also increase his goal tally on the way. So far, Balotelli has let his foot do all the talking and if tt continues this way, Milan can look forward to more miracles from Super Mario.
Milan 2 – 1 Torino
After coming back twice from the dead in their previous encounter against Catania, Milan will look to extract maximum points from this match at home. Their home support will egg them on to increase the gap with Fiorentina hot on their heels.
Blast From The Past