Saturday, March 8, 17:00 Hrs GMT
AC Milan will be looking to get back to their winning ways under Clarence Seedorf when they take on Udinese this weekend. With the midweek clash with Atletico looming large, Seedorf will surely do everything possible to field the best team and come away with a victory and possibly qualify for the next round.
Udinese, on the other hand, are presently lying 15th in the Serie A table. A demoralizing loss to Cagliari last weekend saw an extreme reaction from Pozzo, who had the team train behind closed doors as a punishment for their horrible football.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Udinese will be missing the likes of Lazzari and Bubnjic due to injury, and Danilo due to suspension. Udinese have been quote strong at home in the first half of the season, but since the winter break, they have already lost twice at home. In the previous match day, Cagliari literally toyed with them, inflicting a 3-0 loss.
Udinese have been a different team this season, with their opponents finding a way to break them in almost every match so far. They have been weak in avoiding offside situations, defending against set pieces, long shots, skillful players or counter attacks. In addition to all these, they rarely stop opponents from creating chances against them. Playing a non-aggressive brand of football, Udinese usually prefers to attack down the right.
Udinese will deploy a 3-5-1-1 formation for this match with Scuffet in goal. The defensive line sees Heurtaux on the right, Domizzi on the left with Naldo playing through the center. The midfield will be formed by Basta and Badu on the right, Pereyra and Silva on the left with Allan playing through the center. Fernandes will play in front of the midfield and will be assisting Di Natale, who will be the lone forward for this match.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-1-1): Scuffet(GK); Heurtaux, Naldo, Domizzi; Basta, Badu, Allan, Pereyra, Silva; Fernandes, Di Natale
Milan will be missing the likes of El Shaarawy, Cristante and Balotelli for this match due to injury. Muntari is available post his suspension, although he is unlikely to start this match. Balotelli has been sidelined since the Champions League clash with Atletico, with the striker posting pictures of his recovery on his Twitter account recently. Although it is an unlikely event, Balotelli could still have few minutes on the pitch in this match.
The loss to Juventus in the previous match-day was an expected one. However, in spite of the loss, both Seedorf and Galliani spoke of the team progressing and getting better with time. Seedorf will surely need time to implement his ideas in the current team, and most of the fans are waiting for the pre-season so that Seedorf can get both the things he wants – a full squad and no distractions. The loss to Juventus was a close one, but for most parts of the match, it was Milan who called the shots. With Tevez proving to be the difference-maker, fans were surely left wondering what would have happened if the Argentine would have signed with Milan.
Milan will field a 4-2-3-1 formation with Abbiati under the bar. With almost his entire defensive line available, Seedorf will get time and opportunity to experiment so that he can field a strong line-up for the crucial midweek clash. The back line will be formed by Abate on the right, Emanuelson on the left, with Bonera and Rami forming the central defensive pair. De Jong will return to the starting line-up and he will play as a holding midfielder along with Montolivo.
The midfield sees the trio of Taarabt on the right, Kaka on the left with Honda playing through the center. Honda has not exactly set the league on fire since his arrival and Seedorf will be hoping that the Japanese star soon starts to show his true value. In the absence of Balotelli, Pazzini will start as the lone striker.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Abbiati(GK); Abate, Bonera, Rami, Emanuelson; Montolivo, De Jong; Taarabt, Honda, Kaka; Pazzini
Player to Watch Out For
Adil Rami (Milan)
He might be at Milan on loan till the end of the season, but in this short phase of time, he has made himself a constant fixture in the Milan back-line. Drafted in the first team since last year, his exploits in the Milan shirt started only this year. A strong presence at the back, Rami has a penchant for dribbles. However, he does not dive into tackles, preferring to mark his man till the last minute. Although he is very strong aerially, Rami suffers from occasional lapses in concentration. He is a superb passer from the back and currently has a pass completion percentage of almost 90. Although his loan period ends this summer, Rami has given enough glimpses of his talents to convince Milan of signing him permanently.
Udinese 1 – 1 Milan
Milan will be looking to get back to their winning ways under Seedorf when they face Udinese at home this weekend. With an eye on the Champions League clash with Atletico, a win here will do them a world of good and maybe, just maybe they can overturn the first-leg deficit. Udinese, will be counting on their home support for maximum points for this match but they are well aware that that might not be a possibility. A draw is the most likely outcome of this match.
Blast From The Past