Stadio Artemio Franchi, Siena
Sunday, April 19, 18:45 Hrs GMT
Having been relegated to Serie B, Siena will play for pride as they take on Milan on the final match-day. A difficult season has seen them plummet to the bottom of the table and into Serie B, where they have been joined by Palermo and Pescara.
Milan will take the field this Sunday needing nothing less than an outright victory to seal their progress in Europe next season. With Fiorentina breathing down their neck, the last month has been nothing short of sensational as these two teams have fought tooth and nail to claim the last spot in Champions League. At the end, it turned out to be Roma who halted the momentum for both the teams.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Siena will be missing the likes of Vergassola, Matheu and Pozzi due to injury. The highest point of this season for Siena must have been the home victory over Inter, a match which saw their striker Emeghara coming of age. He is the leading goal-scorer this term for Siena with 7 goals so far. A strong and fast forward, Emeghara’s stock has risen quite a bit over the course of the Serie A season with media even calling him Siena’s Balotelli – the comparison coming due to the fact he moved to Siena at roughly the same time Balotelli returned to Italy from England. This match has garnered quite an interest from all quarters with Fiorentina boss Montella going on record to state that he will learn the Siena anthem by heart if they stop Milan.
In their previous encounter with Milan, they lost 1-2 with goals from Bojan and Pazzini seeing Milan through to all three points on that day. Siena usually play with a lot of width and attempt crosses and long balls often. Although they have a consistent first eleven, they have tried four formations throughout this season with the 3-4-2-1 being deployed in as many as 27 matches. Although they look to attack down the right, they also tend to play within their own half, which greatly reduces their overall attacking prowess. In addition to these, they are weak in keeping possession and also susceptible in aerial duels and defending set pieces.
Siena will deploy a 3-4-2-1 formation for this match with Pegolo under the bars. The tight three-man back-line will be formed by Terzi on the right, Terlizzi at the center and Felipe on the left. The midfield sees the likes of Calello and Della Rocca playing through the middle with Angelo on the right and Rubin on the left. Rosina and Sestu will form the part of the attacking trident which sees Emeghara playing on top of them.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-4-2-1): Pegolo(GK); Terzi, Terlizzi, Felipe; Angelo, Calello, Della Rocca, Rubin; Rosina, Sestu; Emeghara
Milan will be missing the likes of De Jong and Bojan for this match due to injury and Muntari due to suspension. From racism in their previous match, the attention has quickly swung towards the future of Allegri. Numerous first-team players have come out in support of Allegri, stating the need to have a line of continuity at the helm of Milan while at the same time praising him for marshaling the team during a tough rebuilding phase. However, their efforts seem to have gone in vain as Berlusconi is adamant he wants a new face to lead Milan next season. In a recent interview, he went to the extent of saying that the decision to sack Allegri will follow the match against Siena.
So much for Allegri’s steely determination to succeed at Milan when the patron, Berlusconi looks for a change. Nonetheless, like a true professional, Allegri will look to extract maximum points from the upcoming match. Allegri will field a 4-3-3 formation for this match, having almost the entire squad at his disposal. Although Allegri recently clashed with Robinho in training, the latter came out saying that the pair had patched things up.
Abbiati will start this match under the bars with the Milan back-line being formed by Abate and Constant as right and left backs. The central defensive duo will be Zapata and Mexes. De Sciglio might get a look-in later on in this match, having made quite an impression over the last year where he graduated to the Milan first team and also the Italian National team. The midfield sees the return of Ambrosini and Montolivo, with Flamini playing alongside them. There has been recent interest in Ambrosini from West Ham and the captain will sit down for contract discussion after the season gets over. Talking of contracts, many should be up for renewal while on some occasion, Milan might look for a cut-price deal on loans.
The forward line for Milan sees the combination of Boateng on right, El Shaarawy on left and Balotelli through the center. After being Milan’s leading light for a better part of the season, El Shaarawy’s performance has dipped considerably since Balotelli’s arrival, raising the question whether the pair can function together for both club and country.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Abbiati(GK); Abate, Zapata, Mexes, Constant; Flamini, Ambrosini, Montolivo; Boateng, Balotelli, El Shaarawy
Player to Watch Out For
Mario Balotelli (Milan)
After scoring almost a goal per game, Balotelli has been one of the chief reasons for Milan’s revival in the second half of the season. Without his off-field antics hampering his overall image in Milan, he has been a consistent goal-scorer game after game. He has also matured a lot after coming back to Italy and instead of a hot-head, we are currently witness to a player who is realizing his true potential. Being at the receiving end of both defenders and racists alike, he has persisted in keeping a calm demeanor, as was exemplified in his “finger to the mouth” gesture to racist fans in the match against Roma.
Siena 0 – 2 Milan
Milan will go all out for a victory, knowing very well that anything less will be disastrous for them to play in Europe next season. Even if they draw their match and Fiorentina win theirs, it will mean that Fiorentina will pip Milan for the third spot on head-to-head record.
Blast From The Past