Stadio Adriatico, Pescara
Wednesday, April 8, 16:00 Hrs GMT
Already relegated to Serie B, Pescara will be looking to save face when they face Milan at home. Their previous encounter ended on a 4-1 loss to fellow relegation struggler, Genoa – a match where only one fan turned up for Pescara.
Milan are looking to build on the four-point lead over Fiorentina for the third spot in Serie A. Going into the match against Torino last weekend, Milan were aware of Fiorentina’s loss and that might be the reason for their lackluster display for a large part of the match. However, they did prevail at the end, scraping past Torino with a solitary goal scored by none other than Balotelli.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Pescara will be missing the likes of D’Agostino, Kroldrup, Modesto, Weiss, Quintero, Caprari and Pelizzoli through injury. Once a free-scoring Serie B side, Pescara lacked the firepower to survive in the topmost tier of Italian football this season and they have been rightfully relegated. Not only do they have the worst attack, they also possess the leakiest defence in all of Serie A – a far cry from their performance in Serie B. Their last victory came against Fiorentina, whom they surprised by a 2-0 margin. Since then, they have been win-less in 17 matches.
Pescara have used as many as 9 formations this season, with the 4-3-2-1 being their most successful one. They are strong from scoring from direct free-kicks as well as in protecting their lead. However, cannot keep possession of the ball and are horrible in the air; they are unable to defend against skillful players and commit fouls often, mostly in dangerous areas of the pitch. They are also susceptible against long balls and set pieces. Also, they cannot prevent through ball attacks or fast counter attacks and also lack the ability to finish off scoring chances.
Pescara will field a 4-3-1-2 formation with Perin under the bars. Long linked with a move to Milan, Perin has reinstated his desire to return to Genoa once the season is over. The back-line will be formed by Zanon and Balzano on the flanks with Capuano and Bocchetti playing through the center. The three-man midfield will be formed by the likes of Rizzo on the right, Sculli on the left and Togni at the center. The forward line will see Cascione as trequartista for this match and Celik and Sforzini leading the attack.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-1-2): Perin(GK); Zanon, Capuano, Bocchetti, Balzano; Rizzo, Togni, Sculli; Cascione; Celik, Sforzini
Milan will be missing the likes of De Jong, Ambrosini, Bojan and Montolivo for this match through injury and Boateng through suspension. Boateng picked up a yellow in the match against Torino and will return in action in the match with Roma next weekend. Allegri’s position as coach of Milan has come under a lot of scrutiny lately and Milan had to deliver an official document stating that there has been no deal agreed between Allegri and Roma. With rumors flying thick and fast, Allegri has kept a calm face and left the decision to Berlusconi. The latest player to come out in support of Allegri is none other than Balotelli.
Allegri will field a 4-3-3 formation for this match. The absence of Boateng will see Pazzini return to the starting line-up and it will be the first time that the trio of Pazzini, Balotelli and El Shaarawy will start a match together for Milan. While Pazzini and Balotelli have been vocal to start both of them together at the same time, Allegri’s hand was forced this time due to Boateng’s unavailability.
Abbiati will start this match under the bars, and after saving three shots, one of them a one-on-one with Barreto inside the box against Torino, his confidence will be pretty high. The Milan back-line will comprise of Abate on the right, Zapata and Mexes through the center and Constant on the left. Abate was a nuisance for Torino and made a few good runs down the flank. Often he was found on the ball with no one to pass to since Balotelli had dropped deep and it created a hole in the forward line. The midfield will be formed by Flamini on the right, Muntari through the center and Nocerino on the left. Muntari’s lack of creativity leads to a physical approach in the Milan midfield and that is one area which Milan need to cover in the upcoming transfer window.
Against Torino, Allegri played with as many as four strikers at the end in the search for a goal and it did pay off, but that only masked Milan’s real problem – a creative source at the back or midfield. With Montolivo out through injury, Milan have been stripped bare of any form of creativity and this was on display against Torino. Should Milan fail to score goals with the forward line of Pazzini-Balotelli-El Shaarawy, a midfielder will be sacrificed to field either Niang or Robinho later on in the match.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Abbiati(GK); Abate, Zapata, Mexes, Constant; Flamini, Muntari, Nocerino; Pazzini, Balotelli, El Shaarawy
Player to Watch Out For
Mario Balotelli (Milan)
It has to be him, isn’t it? After being at the receiving end of numerous tackles and abuses, it was Balotelli’s goal that got Milan all three points against Torino. The goalscoring revelation was heckled and abused everytime he got the ball but he still kept his calm and put in an amazing performance against Torino. With only three matches remaining for the season, Balotelli needs to keep his emotions in control and deliver on the pitch. Milan need him to perform now more than ever and his goals will surely lead Milan to Europe next season.
Pescara 0 – 1 Milan
After a scrappy win over Torino at home, Milan will look to consolidate on the four-point lead over Fiorentina. Milan were lucky not to concede against Torino and they need to work on their defence to shut out opponents in this upcoming match.