Stadio Ennio Tardini, Parma
October 26th,2013; 14:00 GMT
Max Allegri’s AC Milan have looked shambolic for most of the season but are gradually looking to find their footing, both domestically and in Europe. Their opponents this week have had a similar story too. Parma began the season with four winless games but Roberto Donadoni seems to have managed to steady the ship over the next four and should be fairly optimistic going into this fixture.
Parma have a respectable record at home this season, having won two and lost one in their four games this season. The goals have been coming freely for the Gialloblu over the past few weeks and they will surely be confident of hitting a few past this shaky Milan defense.
The injury crisis at Milan seems to be coming to an end now and so might their winless away streak. With morale growing, they will know that this is a perfect game in which they can really kick start their season and get back into the European battle.
A loss for either side will be a major setback in their hope to return to form and there is absolutely no doubt that both sides will take to the Ennio Tardini all guns blazing.
Parma – Team News, Lineup And Formation
Donadoni will have his regular custodian back for this big game but it remains to be seen whether or not young Pavol Bajza’s last two appearances have been good enough to pip Antonio Mirante for a spot between the sticks. Owing to the fact that this sort of game will require a lot of experience, Donadoni is expected to go with Mirante.
Donadoni will stick to his preferred 3-5-2 formation for this tie, with Mattia Cassani, Alessandro Lucarelli and Felipe forming the back three. They’ve struggled to keep sides at bay this season and holding off the likes of Mario Balotelli and a resurgent Kaka will be a mammoth task. Former Inter man Jonathan Biabiany should start as right wing back while Massimo Gobbi will take to the left. Gobbi has been Donadoni’s first choice for seven of the eight Serie A games so it seems most unlikely that Djamel Mesbah will get a run out against his former club.
Walter Gargano and Marco Marchionni will partner Marco Parolo in the center of midfield. With Milan also using a three man midfield through the middle, this will clearly be a man for man battle with a lot depending on the perennially influential Parolo. Antonio Cassano will be an automatic choice as one of the strikers, while it will be a toss-up between Amauri and Raffaele Palladino for the other spot.
A lot will depend on Cassano and Parolo in attack, as has been the case all season long. Cassano hasn’t had the greatest of times against Milan after leaving them for rivals Inter, but with this game not having the pressures of the Milan derby Fantantonio may well be able to spring a surprise or two.
Possible starting lineup [3-5-2]: Mirante – Cassani, Lucarelli, Felipe – Biabiany, Gargano, Marchionni, Parolo, Gobbi – Amauri, Cassano
AC Milan – Team News, Lineup And Formation
Allegri has almost an entire squad to choose from ahead of this game, a rarity in his tenure with Milan. Gabriel looked impressive against Udinese, Marco Amelia had a decent outing against Barcelona in midweek, but it should be veteran Christian Abbiati who will start in goal.
The only casualty in defense is Philippe Mexes who is suspended for this game owing to the sending off against Juventus. Ignazio Abate should start on the right, Kevin Constant on the left, with Cristian Zapata and Matias Silvestre in the middle. Milan’s central pairing has come under fire this season so this should prove to be a big opportunity for Silvestre to look to cement his place in the heart of Milan’s defense.
Allegri will look to leave things unchanged with his formation following the surprise draw against Barcelona, which should mean that he will deploy a 4-3-3. The attackers returning from injury should also make the 4-3-3 a more feasible option. Riccardo Montolivo, Nigel de Jong and Andrea Poli should form Milan’s three man midfield and will know that shutting down Marco Parolo will be their most important job on the night.
Mario Balotelli should return to the starting lineup this weekend and will play as the central striker among the front three. 18-year-old Frenchman M’Baye Niang will probably be used on the right in order to give Valter Birsa a rest. Robinho may have scored the all important goal against Barcelona but he was far from impressive. Fellow Brazilian and Milan favorite Kaka was just the opposite as he dominated the left flank like never before. But Kaka’s fitness issues might force Allegri to put his faith in Robinho once again and play him on the left side of attack.
Probable starting lineup [4-3-3]: Abbiati – Abate, Zapata, Silvestre, Constant – Montolivo, De Jong, Poli – Niang, Balotelli, Robinho
1. Milan are yet to win a game away from home this season.
2. Only two clubs, Sassuolo and Bologna, have defensive records worse than that of Parma.
3. Parma have picked up the most number of cards in the Serie A.
4. Parma have beaten Milan just twice in their last twenty meetings in the Serie A.
5. No player in either side has scored more than three goals in the Serie A so far.
Player to watch out for
Riccardo Montolivo (Milan)
The club captain hasn’t managed to replicate his brilliance of last season but there have been a number of reasons for this. Milan’s midfield has often been overrun this season due to injuries and fatigue, but the side finally seems to be achieving some stability. With an ample amount of support available in this fixture, Montolivo should be able to play with more freedom than he has had in earlier games. Keeping Parolo quiet will be a task assigned to De Jong so Montolivo should have enough time and space to move forward at will and pull the strings from deep when required.
Parma 0-2 Milan
Parma don’t boast of the most potent attack and Cassano’s inability to perform against Milan is no secret. Milan seem to be going through a good patch at the moment and the sheer quality of some of the names in this Milan squad should be enough to see them over this obstacle. It won’t be easy but Allgeri’s men should do the job.
Blast From The Past