Friday, February 14, 19:45 Hrs GMT
AC Milan will be looking to avenge their recent loss to Napoli in Serie A when they take on Bologna at home this weekend. After the debacle to the Neapolitans, Seedorf will be looking to get their season back on track and head upwards in the Serie A table.
Bologna have their work cut out for them as they lie just above the relegation zone with only four points saving them from the drop. Although they have drawn their previous match with Milan, they know very well that they are up against a much-changed Milan side.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Milan will be missing the services of El Shaarawy, Cristante, Birsa and Robinho for this match due to injury. While most of the key players are back in the first team, Seedorf will be looking to work with El Shaarawy soon as the Pharaoh needs to get back in form lest he has World Cup plans in mind.
Milan tried an experimental setup in their previous match against Napoli, but what hurt most was not the margin of loss. The fact that Milan had most of the possession and in spite of having creative players up front, they were unable to make any real inroads into the opposition defense. Milan did press hard but that sometimes left their defense open to counter attacks. Milan, under Seedorf has been a different team, but one area where they really need to work on is their defense. Playing Essien was an astute move, since he needs to have minutes on the pitch as he will have a key role to play against Atletico.
Seedorf will field a 4-2-3-1 formation with Abbiati under the bars. This formation is specifically designed so as to absorb the attacking pressure from the opposition by playing two defensive midfielders as well as to provide the lone forward with ample ammunition from the attacking line. The back line is formed by De Sciglio on the right, Emanuelson on the left, with Rami and Zapata forming the central defensive pair. The defensive midfielders for this match will be Essien and Montolivo.
The midfield will be formed by the trio of Taarabt on the right, Honda through the center and Poli on the left. The lone striker for this match will be Balotelli and he will be well aware of the fact that he will be replaced by someone else if the does not perform or have an off day in front of goal.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Abbiati(GK); De Sciglio, Rami, Zapata, Emanuelson; Essien, Montolivo; Taarabt, Honda, Poli; Balotelli
Bologna will be missing the likes of Pazienza and Acquafresca for this match due to injury. They were dealt a cruel blow in the January transfer window when their best player Diamanti chose to move to China. Although players like Cristaldo are saying that they have moved on since his departure, the truth is they are sorely missing both the creative abilities of Diamanti as well as his goal-scoring nature. It will be quite difficult for them to replace a player who by far has the most shots of goal for them; but if the exploits of Cristaldo against Torino are any indicator, Bologna will survive eventually.
Bologna are strong in aerial duels as well as snatching the ball from the opposition but they are caught offside more often that not and their forward line lacks the killer instinct in front of goal. They are also known to concede free kicks in dangerous areas, thereby increasing the pressure on their back line. They are weak against long ball and through ball attacks and they are also susceptible against counter attacks – something Milan might look to exploit in this match. However, with Milan intent on playing possession football, the game is most likely to be played entirely in the Bologna half.
Bologna will deploy a 3-5-2 formation with Curci under the bars. The defense line sees the likes of Antonsson on the right, Mantovani on the left with Natali playing through the center. The midfield will be packed to the brim and it will feature Garics and Kone on the right, Christodoupoulos and Morleo on the left with Perez playing through the center. The forward line is formed by Bianchi and Cristaldo.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-2): Curci(GK); Antonsson, Natali, Mantovani; Garics, Kone, Perez, Christodoulopoulos, Morleo; Bianchi, Cristaldo
Player to Watch Out For
His arrival was delayed by six months but once he arrived at Milan, it was clear why he was so much in demand. Although he has scored for Milan in a Coppa Italia match against Spezia, he is yet to open his account in Serie A and surely, he will be itching to score his first. Honda has been instrumental in many of Milan’s attacking moves in the recent matches, although his shooting skills needs to improve, a lot. He has been a much-changed player since his CSKA days, and now his pass success percentage has crossed the 90% threshold. Zaccheroni, the Japan coach has recently come out saying that the best position for Honda to play will be behind the strikers and in this upcoming match, he is likely to be deployed in the central attacking midfield position.
Milan 2 – 1 Bologna
Milan needs to prove that the loss to Napoli was a thing of the past and what better way to do that than to grab all three points in front of their fans at home! Realistically speaking, Milan are out of Europe for the next season and they could use the remainder of this season to score as many points as possible. Bologna, sitting four points off the relegation zone will pull one goal back – mainly due to the leaky defense of Milan.