San Siro, Milan
Sunday, May 18, 18:45 Hrs GMT
AC Milan will be on the lookout for a huge miracle when they play host to Sassuolo this weekend. After a miserable season spent mostly on in-house turmoils and finger pointing, Milan are in for one hell of a ride once this match is over – no matter what the outcome.
Sasssuolo’s Serie A adventure received a major boost when they secured a second successive season in the topmost tier of Italian football. Although they have won four out of their last six matches, they still lie at the 16th place and that is something they require to work on in the forthcoming season.
Team News and tactical Brief
Milan will be missing the likes of Birsa, Bonera and Saponara due to injury for this match. Milan’s Europa League ambitions were dealt a cruel blow last week when they lost to Atalanta via a last minute goal, which is easily one of the contenders for goal of the season. After the victory over Inter, continuity was expected. However, that was not to be.
Milan have been openly searching for a coach for some time now and although everything appears smooth on the surface, everyone knows that still waters run deep. The appointment of Seedorf has thrown up many questions and yet the Milan patron is adamant in his choice that Seedorf was the right one. Questions will surely arise about why Seedorf is being replaced come the start of the new season? With hardly half a season in charge, he was expected to lead the Milan squad to glory – a squad whose only source of new players are either season loans or rejected players from other clubs or players having troubles with other clubs. With the season coming to an end, Seedorf is unlikely to keep quiet and take all the abuse like his predecessor, Allegri.
Seedorf will field a 4-2-3-1 formation in this match with Abbiati under the bar. The back-line will be formed by Abate on the right, Constant on the left with Rami and Mexes forming the central defensive pair. The holding midfielders for this match will be De Jong and Montolivo. Montolivo has gone on record saying that Milan’s season was exemplified by the last second goal that they conceded against Atalanta. In a way, it showed the lack of steel within Milan and their incapability to finish off chances.
The midfield will be formed by Taarabt on the right, El Shaarawy on the left with Kaka playing through the middle. Balotelli will bethe lone striker in this match.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Abbiati(GK); Abate, Rami, Mexes, Constant; De Jong, Montolivo; Taarabt, Kaka, El Shaarawy; Balotelli
Sassuolo will be missing the likes of Acerbi, Bianco, Manfredini and Alexe due to injury for this match. Although Di Francesco has led this team to safety, speculation still remains about his future at Sassuolo. For the record, the tactician led the very same squad to the Serie B title last season and sometime later, he was sacked from the post. He returned two months later and ever since then, Sassuolo has played dangerously close to the relegation zone. One area of concern for them will surely be about the availability of Berardi and Zaza, who are the top performers at the club. Both are on loan from Juventus and once the season ends, they are likely to return to their parent club.
Sassuolo are strong in shooting from direct free kicks, attacking set pieces, coming back from losing positions and also defending set pieces. They usually tend to attack through the middle, taking a lot of shots and also deploying the long ball on many occasions. They also like to play in their own half and are quite aggressive and play the offside trap. However, they lack the ability to keep possession of the ball, something which Milan will surely exploit in this match. They are also very weak in defending against long shots, through ball attacks as well as skillful players. In addition to these, they also commit a high number of individual errors and are susceptible from the wings.
Sassuolo will deploy a 4-3-3 formation with Pomini in goal. The back-line will be formed by Gazzola on the right, Longhi on the left with Antei and Cannavaro playing at the center of defense. The midfield will be formedby Biondini on the right, Missiroli on the left with Mangnanelli at the center. The forward line sees Berardi and Sansone flanking Zaza, who will be playing through the center.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Pomini(GK); Gazzola, Antei, Cannavaro, Longhi; Biondini, Magnanelli, Missiroli; Berardi, Zaza, Sansone
Player to Watch Out For
El Shaarawy (AC Milan)
El Shaarawy was Milan’s leading light till the time Super Mario showed up at Milanello. Last season marked the coming of age of this youngster with Egyptian roots and he was the leading goal-scorer. After Super Mario’s arrival, every single fan was looking forward to this pair running havoc but sadly that never materialized. El Shaarawy’s present season was cut short by multiple injuries and to his great misfortune, he re-injured himself minutes after coming back to the first team. Prandelli, however, kept the national door open for him for a long time but sadly El Shaarawy never quite made that comeback he wanted and play in the World Cup. Finally fully fit, El Shaarawy has been omitted from the national squad, and instead of being disappointed about it, he has started to make his mark with Milan once more. In the last match day, he saw few minutes of action and in those few minutes, he made all of the fans realize what they were missing. He is likely to start from the very beginning in this match and with nothing to lose, will surely go all out.
Milan 2 – 0 Sassuolo
Milan go into the last match day still having a mathematical chance to play in Europe next season. Although they need both their Europa League rivals to lose, Milan knows very well that it will be a highly unlikely scenario. Sassuolo, on the other hand, have just secured a second Serie A season after the last match day and they will be on the lookout to thwart Milan’s plans.