Saturday, October 4, 19:45 Hrs GMT
AC Milan will be looking to bring their season back on track when they welcome Chievo this weekend. After two successive victories, Milan have lost points on all of their last three matches and that has raised quite a few questions from the hierarchy, who have questioned Inzaghi’s methods.
Chievo, on the other hand, too have dropped points on their last three matches after their surprise victory over Napoli on the second match day. Off the field, Chievo has recently been handed a €2,000 fine for delaying the start of their home match against Parma, which they eventually lost by a 2-3 margin.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Milan will be missing the likes of Montolivo, Diego Lopez, Saponara and Van Ginkel due to injury and Zapata due to suspension. Although there has been news of an inflamed tendon, Menez is likely to start this match. Van Ginkel was the latest to join this long list of absentees, and from initial reports, he will return in a month, about the same time when Montolivo and Saponara will return.
Milan superb start to the season was brought to an abrupt halt by defending champions, Juventus, who showed them the gulf in class and personnel when they defeated Milan by a 0-1 margin at the San Siro. Since that defeat, Milan has drawn two of their matches against Empoli and Cesena – matches which they should have won easily. Although Milan’s confidence is not shaken, their defensive frailties have been a major concern and unless Inzaghi finds a quick solution to plug holes at the back, Milan will concede goals heavily this season. They have conceded some seriously ridiculous goals this season, mainly due to two reasons – the over-attacking nature of their full-backs and the miscommunication between their center-backs. Relying on fast counter attacks, Menez has become the sole reference point.
Inzaghi will field a 4-3-3 formation with Abbiati under the bar. With Zapata missing due to suspension, the center-back pair for this match will be Alex and Rami. They will be joined by Abate on the right and De Sciglio on the left. One of the most important decisions that Inzaghi seems to have taken is to bench Bonera, and it is something Milan fans will hope to continue in the subsequent matches. Not only has he been slow at the back, his mistakes have been quite costly to say the least.
The midfield will be formed by Poli on the right, Muntari on the left with De Jong playing through the center. Milan have been hamstrung in the midfield department and they cannot afford another injury to any of these players. Other than Essien and to some extent, Bonaventura, they do not have any backup options in the middle of the park as they continue to sorely miss the services of their captain, Montolivo, who should return in time for the Milan derby. The forward line will be formed by Honda on the right, Menez on the left with Torres playing through the center.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Abbiati(GK); Abate, Alex, Rami, De Sciglio; Poli, De Jong, Muntari; Honda, Torres, Menez
Chievo will be missing the likes of Izco, Schelotto, Botta due to injury. According to their head coach, Eugenio Corini, Chievo are on the right track as far as their league and season ambitions are considered. In a recent interview, Corini even went to the extent of saying that they should not be facing Milan at this juncture of their season since the home side is a totally different team as compared to their wimp of a season last year.
Chievo have been fluid in their set-up as they have demonstrated the ability to play either a 4-3-3 or a 4-3-1-2 till now. Other than these two formations, they even played a quasi-3-5-2 formation against Sampdoria, as they looked to attack mainly down the wings. The absence of Schelotto due to injury have complicated matters for Corini, at least for this match as that has led to less attacking options down the wings. Faced with such a situation, Corini has not option other than to play through the middle and hope to penetrate the Milan back-line. Playing through the center might work for them as they can look to attack via through balls. Playing in the air might be an option at the back, but with Alex and Rami playing through the center, such kind of attacks will be fluffed out quite easily.
Chievo will deploy a 4-3-3 formation with Bardi in goal. The back-line will be formed by Frey on the right, Biraghi on the left with Dainelli and Cesar playing through the center. The midfield will be formed by Radovanovic on the right, Hetemaj on the left with Cofie playing through the middle. The forward line sees the likes of Birsa and Lazarevic partnering former Milan player, Paloschi.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Bardi(GK); Frey, Dainelli, Cesar, Biraghi; Radovanovic, Cofie, Hetemaj; Birsa, Paloschi, Lazarevic
Player to Watch Out For
Jeremy Menez (AC Milan)
Menez has been a revelation since he first stepped in Milanello. Brought in on a free transfer from PSG along with defender Alex, Menez has revitalized the front-line with his outrageous talent and skills. Not only has he been a constant threat to every opposition so far, he has also managed to score what surely has to be one of the goals of the season against Parma. That outstanding back-heel put him on the forefront and although he does not play as the striker, he has been the only constant in Inzaghi’s front-line. Other than scoring goals, he has also helped set up fellow players and his pace often leads opposition defenders to foul him close to their penalty box. All in all, Menez looks to play a key part in Milan’s revival this season under Inzaghi.
Milan 2 – 1 Chievo
Milan will be out looking for redemption and points in this match as they will bank on the support of their home fans to spur them to victory. Chievo on the other hand will be also on the lookout to pick up points after two successive losses and a draw. Milan will concede early in this game, since they have a suspect defense, but they are likely to claw their way back in due to their superior attacking options.