Saturday, April 19, 13:00 Hrs GMT
AC Milan will be looking to reach the top six when they play host to Livorno this weekend. Seedorf’s half season in charge can finally see a happy ending if they can extract maximum points from their remaining matches and take the battle to cross-town rivals, Internazionale for a spot in Europe.
Livorno are presently lying 18th in the Serie A table, and their hopes of survival appear pretty slim. Faced against a team who are on the lookout of playing in Europe next season, Livorno will surely have a tough time on the road this weekend.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Milan will be missing the likes of Muntari, Essien, Petagna, El Shaarawy, De Sciglio and Honda due to injury for this match. Although El Shaarawy has returned to training now, Seedorf will not risk him playing this season. There has been quite a lot of “interest” in El Shaarawy recently and Seedorf will want to keep those rumors at bay and keep the youngster at Milanello for a long time.
Even though Milan have been on an undefeated run for 5 matches now, there has been constant speculation about the future of Seedorf. According to recent rumors, there seems to have been a fallout between him and Galliani, with the latter choosing not to meet the coach. It seems the argument arose due to Montolivo’s playing time against Catania. Whatever may the situation be, this is surely not a good omen for the club who is fighting to stay in Europe next season. Milan will surely want to win this match since after this, they will face an extremely difficult trip away to Rome. Finally it might boil down to which of the two teams want these three points more – a side battling to be in Europe or a side battling to stay afloat in the topmost tier of Italian football.
Seedorf will field a 4-2-3-1 formation with Abbiati under the bar. De Sciglio will not be risked in this match and with Abate falling out of favor, Bonera will start on the right of defense with Constant on the left. The central defensive pair will be formed by Rami and Mexes. The holding midfielders for this match will be De Jong and Montolivo, with the latter likely to play in an advanced role as the match progresses.
The midfield will be formed by Poli on the right, Taarabt on the left with Kaka playing through the middle. Balotelli will be lone striker in this match.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Abbiati(GK); Bonera, Rami, Mexes, Constant; De Jong, Montolivo; Poli, Kaka, Taarabt; Balotelli
Livorno will be missing the likes of Luci and Mbaye due to injury and Biagianti due to suspension. Livorno’s last victory came against Bologna and since then they have been at the receiving end against Torino, Atalanta, Juventus and Chievo. Their home and away form have been miserable to say the least and they rightfully find themselves close to the bottom of the league table. Livorno have seen three coaches this season, with the latest one being Mimmo Di Carlo. Having won only 3 out of all their fixtures since January, Di Carlo’s position is reportedly under threat and his position only worsened after their loss to relegation-threatened Chievo in the last match-day.
Livorno’s top player this season has been Paulinho, and Di Carlo will surely be looking towards him to save his job. Livorno have played in as many as 5 formations this season, with their most-used one being the 3-5-2, which has been used as many as 25 times. Their strength lies in creating long shot opportunities and attacking set pieces. However, they are extremely weak when it comes to keeping possession of the ball, defending against counter-attacks and protecting their lead. They also tend to give away fouls in dangerous areas and are also vulnerable against set pieces and aerial duels.
Livorno will deploy a 3-5-2 formation with Bardi in goal. The back-line will be formed by Cecceherini on the right, Castellini on the left with Emerson playing at the center of defense. The midfield will be formed by Piccini and Benassi on the right, Greco and Mesbah on the left with Duncan replacing the suspended Biagianti. The forward line will see Paulinho pairing up with Emeghara. Although they will start the match as 3-5-2, they surely will change to a 3-5-1-1 as the match progresses with Paulinho as the lone striker.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-2): Bardi(GK); Ceccherini, Emerson, Castellini; Piccini, Benassi, Duncan, Greco, Mesbah; Paulinho, Emeghara
Player to Watch Out For
Kaka (AC Milan)
Among all the turmoil that is engulfing Milan presently, there has been one player and one player only whose love for the club surely exceeds everyone else’s. Milan has not exactly seen the Kaka of old, who can trail-blaze through opposition defenses with his mesmerizing skills, but every now and then Kaka dishes out performances akin to those. Age has taken its toll on the Brazilian and repeated injuries too have done their part in a bid to halt this amazing talent. And yet, day after day, Kaka continues to be the leading light at Milan. He has been the go-to player for any and every of the club’s troubles. So much so, it is he and Abbiati who often face the ultras and speaks to them. With the ticket to the World Cup surely not coming his way, Kaka can use this time to refocus his energies and try to salvage whatever he can of this miserable season for Milan. He cannot be the savior every time, but when things will fall apart, everyone knows there is no one better to take care of business other than their talisman.
Milan 2 – 0 Livorno
Milan will be looking to close the gap between them and the fifth spot going into this match. They are currently on an unbeaten run of 5 matches and faced against a team from the relegation zone, they will surely be hoping to win at home and take the fight to their cross-town rivals, Internazionale.