San Siro, Milan
Saturday 21st March, 2015, 19:45 GMT
AC Milan will look to improve on their recent run of poor form when they take on Zdenek Zemana s Cagliari side on Sunday at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. The Rossoneri have not managed to achieve a league victory since February 22 and the pressure is now really beginning to mount on coach Filippo Inzaghi. There has already been considerable speculation regarding his future and talk of a summer departure has only increased after last weeka s 2-1 defeat at Fiorentina. Meanwhile, the Rossoblu have already experienced a number of coaching changes this season and the recent return of Zemenlandia has brought back an air of confidence among the Isolani. This reinvigorated side displayed signs of life last week after they put in an impressive display against a promising Empoli side. It was only due to a 92nd minute equaliser that prevented the Rossoblu from obtaining their first league victory since January 24.
Team news and tactics
Milan have conceded four goals in two games, three of those coming in the final minutes and costing them four points. They are now ten points short of European contention, and go into this one with seven players injured, including Riccardo Montolivo, Adil Rami, Stephan El Shaarawy and Mattia De Sciglio. The Milanese outfit can at least still count on a lethal attacking trio of Jeremy Menez, Keisuke Honda and recent recruit Mattia Destro, who has scored twice since moving from Roma.
The Rossoneri have the opportunity to move into the top seven if they achieve a victory this weekend and this will certainly be something that Inzaghi will be striving for if he is to relieve some of the weight that is currently bearing heavily on his shoulders. Andrea Poli will return to the starting XI after missing the trip to Florence due to suspension. Nigel de Jong will start alongside the Italian midfielder as he has recovered from injury.Milan face a team also battling for form in Cagliari, who are winless in seven matches and four points from safety. The situation for Zdenek Zeman’s side is becoming increasingly desperate, sitting four points behind Atalanta and eight adrift of 16th-placed Chievo. Cagliari also have a forgettable history against Milan. Of the 33 matches played between the two clubs, Cagliari have won just two a losing 21 and drawing 10. Cagliari’s last win over Milan came in 1998. Zeman’s men need a win in their relegation fight, while Inzaghi must lead his side to victory to ease the pressure on his job – for the time being at least.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3):Diego Lopez(Gk); Abate, Paletta, Mexes, Antonelli; Poli, De Jong, Bonaventura; Honda, Destro, Menez
Zeman will be buoyed by the fact that his side forced a 1-1 draw out of the Milanese outfit earlier on this season. However he will be aware that Cagliari have lost all ten of their previous away matches against Milan. Zeman will want to attack as always and will look to his joint top-scorers Marco Sau and Joao Pedro ,who scored in last weeka s match against Empoli, as the players to infiltrate the home defence.
Having let Empoli equalise in stoppage time, Cagliari are winless since late January. The team did perform admirably, and should continue to do so under Zeman. They have scored in eleven of their last thirteen games but have conceded in each and every single one of them. They lack a reliable striker, Marco Sau having failed to score in Serie A since the autumn. With the arrival of Paul-Jose Ma Poku, they can at least count on a dangerous attacking trio, with Joao Pedro netting a fine goal against Empoli. The latter has scored four times and made two assists, despite often coming on as a sub. Danilo Avelar and Andrea Cossu are available after each serving a suspension, but only the former is expected to feature from the off.
- There have been 67 previous meetings between these two sides in Serie A: AC Milan lead by 35 wins to seven, with 25 draws completing the record.
- Cagliaria s last win against AC Milan in the league came in October 1998. Since then, they have lost 18 times and drawn six in 24 Serie A meetings against the Rossoneri.
- AC Milan have won all their last 10 home league matches against Cagliari, scoring on average 2.5 goals per game.
Players to Watch Out For
Gabriel Paletta (AC Milan)
Milana s defence has spent most of the season in a state of flux. The Rossoneri began the season with Ignazio Abate, Alex, Zapata and Daniele Bonera in the back four. Only one of those players remains, with Mattia De Sciglio and Adil Rami also failing to impress. Having started the last two games, Paletta has finally looked the part, after beginning his Milan career just as badly as his colleagues. It is up to him to prove that Milan can build around him, at least until the end of the season.
Paul-Jose M’Poku (Cagliari)
Ma Poku was born in Kinshasha, but grew up in the Standard Liege youth academy, also playing for Tottenham and Leyton Orient. He scored four goals in 18 games for the Belgium Under-21 side. He has been a real livewire for the Sardinians so far after joining in February and will be looking to make a name for himself against a stuttering Milan defence.
AC Milan 3a 3 Cagliari
Milan lost at Fiorentina despite going 1-0 up last time out and they now sit 10 points off of sixth place, the lowest position to be assigned a possible European place. Cagliari threw away a possible win over Empoli by conceding in the dying embers of the game and they remain 4 points below Atalanta, level with Cesena in the relegation zone. Whatever Adriano Galliani may say, Milan’s season may be considered over as they are out of the race for a European finish. That will not mean Cagliari will gain easy points here, but a game that once would have seen the hosts as clear favourites could actually be more balanced, considering the Sardinian’s hunger for points.
Blast From the Past
AC Milan claimed their first victory of the Serie A season in 2013 with a 3-1 triumph over Cagliari at San Siro.