Sunday, March 16, 14:00 Hrs GMT
AC Milan will be hoping for some good fortune on the pitch after their recent performances – both in Serie A and in the Champions League. They will be “greeted” by the ultras, who have planned a protest in the Curva Sud in their first match since the midweek disaster.
Parma, on the other hand, have quietly won matches and climbed their way up to the sixth place in the Serie A table. Although they have lost 10 out of their 11 previous matches against Milan, that statistic will not deter them from going all out against Milan.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Milan will be missing the services of El Shaarawy, Cristante, Petagna through injury and De Sciglio due to suspension. The missing players would be of the least concern in Seedorf’s mind as he must now focus on the important things at hand – on how to get his players to act and play as a team and more importantly, on how to win a match.
It is true that Seedorf has indeed inherited a side bereft of the belief in their own abilities from Allegri, and while he has made inroads into making it a better squad, the results till now show no signs of improvement. Immediate results will not help Milan anywhere but at least what they can do is to show that they still have to ability to fight – both domestically and in Europe. While the latter ship has most probably sailed by now, it will do Milan a world of good if they fail to qualify for Europa League next season. The energy spent in Europe could be better utilized in rebuilding the squad and hopefully make a team where a future Ballon d’Or like Bonera does not start every match. Instead of pointing fingers at each other, it will be easier on the team to just accept the fact that they blundered in respecting the shirt and make amends by their future performances.
Balotelli’s performance has been lambasted from almost every quarter of the media and fans and after being in the shadows for such a long time (injury and otherwise), it will do the young Italian a world of good if he stepped up his game now. With the World Cup looming large, his place in the national squad is not yet cemented. Seedorf will field a 4-2-3-1 formation with Abbiati under the bar. The back line will be formed by Abate on the right, Constant on the left with Mexes and Bonera forming the central defensive pair.
The midfield will be formed by the trio of Honda on the right, Kaka on the left with Poli playing through the center. After his shambolic performance in Spain, Balotelli should be benched in favor of Pazzini, who should start this match as the lone striker.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Abbiati(GK); Abate, Mexes, Bonera, Constant; Montolivo, Muntari; Honda, Poli, Kaka; Pazzini
Parma have a full squad at their disposal other than Paletta, who will miss this match due to suspension. In their previous encounter this season with Milan, Parma emerged victorious via a late goal from Parolo. Not much has changed since that encounter at Ennio Tardini, other than the fact that Milan have been kicked out of both Coppa Italia and the UEFA Champions League. Parma are undefeated in Serie A since their early November loss to Juventus with a 1-0 margin, while their last away loss was in October. Since then, they have notched up 8 victories in 15 matches, resulting in their high position in the Serie A table.
Ex-Milan player Donadoni is at the Parma helm, and in him the club have found a coach who has managed to galvanize the squad around him. The players have been working incessantly, resulting in a harmonious group who can be in Europe come next season. Boasting the third-best defensive record in the league, Parma have found a leader in Paletta. His comrade-in-arms Lucarelli, have been a rock-solid presence at the back resulting in such an impressive record. Another aspect of their game has been the vision and creativity of another ex-Milan player, Cassano. His movement, guile, agility and ability to find the crucial pass has been a key aspect of Parma’s rise this season.
Parma will deploy a 4-3-3 formation with Mirante in goal. The defense line sees Cassani on the right, Gobbi on the left, with Felipe and Lucarelli playing at the center. The midfield will be formed by Gargano on the right, Parolo on the left and Marchionni in the center. The forward line sees the likes of Biabiany and Cassano supporting Amauri, who will be playing through the center.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Mirante(GK); Cassani, Felipe, Lucarelli, Gobbi; Gargano, Marchionni, Parolo; Biabiany, Amauri, Cassano
Player to Watch Out For
Kaka (AC Milan)
Kaka came back to Milan for his love for the club, even refusing paychecks when he was injured in the early parts of the season. He belongs to the old guard of Milan, the Milan with whom he conquered the world once. Coming back to such a shambolic team must have been hard for the Brazilian, but now he needs to take to onus upon himself to raise the bar at his beloved Milan. Bad decisions, ridiculous money and in-house fighting have left Milan in tatters and if there is one man who can act as a leader – both in the actual and literal meaning of the word, it is none other than Kaka. He has already scored goals this season in the Milan shirt as well as provided assists. The ultras will listen more to him than to a Balotelli and with nothing to go on for this season, Kaka can use the rest of the the season to claim a place in the Brazil squad for the World Cup.
Milan 1 – 1 Parma
With nothing left to salvage from this season other than some respect and dignity, Milan will be hoping to earn some points out of this match. With Europa League somewhat a possibility for Milan next season, the club needs to go on overdrive to achieve that goal. Parma are lying ahead of Milan in the Serie A title and will certainly do no favors to an European place contender in this match.