San Siro, Milan
Saturday 9th March, 2015, 18:45 GMT
Roma coach Rudi Garcia has demanded maximum concentration from his players ahead of Saturday’s match at AC Milan. The Giallorossi beat Genoa 2-0 last time out to leapfrog city rivals Lazio into second place with four games remaining. The top two teams in Serie A qualify directly for the Champions League next season. Roma are one point clear of Lazio, who take on Inter Milan on Sunday.Roma endured a difficult few months to fall out of the title race but they have hit back with convincing wins at Sassuolo and against Genoa in the last two rounds. The Giallorossi have kept a clean sheet in their last two games while they have found the net five times in as many matches.Saturday’s match will be Roma’s last away from Rome this season.Garcia’s side will host Udinese on May 17 and take on Lazio in the derby a week later, before ending the campaign at home to Palermo on May 31.
AC Milan are having a campaign to forget and last weekend’s 3-0 defeat at Napoli was the Rossoneri’s third straight loss. Filippo Inzaghi’s side are 11th in the Serie A standings, eight points adrift of the last Europa League qualifying spot.The Rossoneri have endured a difficult season and have lost their previous three games.
Team news and tactics
Milan’s troubles this season show no sign of ending and in their last match against Napoli they suffered another miserable evening. The game was barely a minute old when Mattia De Sciglio was sent off for bringing down Marek Hamsik inside the box. Gonzalo Higuain missed from the resulting spot kick, but his side eventually ran out 3-0 winners. It was another blow for Filippo Inzaghi, but his team did produce a spirited and gusty defensive display in Naples, and it wasn’t until the 70th minute that their goal was finally breached. That result means that the club have now lost three league games in a row for the first time this season and they haven’t managed to claim a win since their 2-1 victory over Palermo at the start of April.
Should their poor run of form continue, then they may very well end the season in the bottom half of the league table, and they are only in 10th position at the moment due to a slightly better goal difference than Palermo. No matter what happens between now and the end of the season on the pitch, there are bound to be drastic changes to the club in the summer, as current owner Silvio Berlusconi is reportedly in talks with Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol over a potential takeover.Milan will be forced to cope without De Sciglio following his red card against Napoli. They are also without top-scorer Jeremy Menez, who will serve the second of a four-match ban. In a further blow, Riccardo Montolivo will not play again this season after undergoing surgery to remove pins from his leg.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3):Diego Lopez(Gk); Abate, Alex, Paletta, Antonelli; Poli, De Jong, Van Ginkel; Bonaventura, Honda, Destro
Roma may not have endured as many problems as Milan have this season, but their poor form since the turn of the year has almost cost them dearly. Their firm grip on a place inside the top three has loosened considerably in recent months and a 2-1 defeat at Inter Milan two weeks ago set alarm bells ringing. However, they seem to have bounced back to form, and victories over Sassuolo and Genoa in the past week have seen them climb into second place and above their city rivals Lazio.
In fact, their 2-0 victory over Genoa at the weekend was only their second win at home in the league since last November. It is their form at the Stadio Olimpico that has seriously hampered their progress and has stopped them from seriously challenging Juventus for the title. They have found it hard to kill teams off and have drawn 10 of their Serie A fixtures since January, but the return to fitness of Seydou Doumbia seems to have coincided with their current winning run and the Ivory Coast international has found the net in each of his last two games.Roma have no players ruled out through suspension, but long-term absentees Maicon, Kevin Strootman andLeandro Castan are expected to miss out. Doumbia is a slight doubt after picking up a knock last weekend against Genoa, but he is expected to continue in the attack.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3):De Sanctis(Gk); Florenzi, Astori, Manolas, Torisidis; Pjanic, De Rossi, Nainggolan; Iturbe, Gervinho, Doumbia
- This will be the 160th Serie A meeting between AC Milan and Roma: the Rossoneri lead by 71 wins to 40 a against no other side have they obtained so many wins in the top-flight.
- However, AC Milan havena t beaten Roma in any of their last five Serie A matches (D3 L2) and have failed to score in both the last two.
- Despite 44 wins and 16 losses against Roma at home in their Serie A history, AC Milan have won only two of their last eight league encounters with the Giallorossi at San Siro , losing four times.
Players to Watch Out For
Mattia Destro (AC Milan)
Jeremy Menez is still suspended, which means Mattia Destro should lead the attack once again. The striker who is on loan from Roma will be looking to end the season on a high after struggling to make a mark with the Rossoneri.
Seydou Doumbia (Roma)
Seydou Doumbia finds himself in his best run of form since moving to Serie A, having found the net in each of Romaa s aforementioned recent back-to-back wins.
AC Milan 2a 2 AS Roma
Milan were expected to struggle at Napoli, but they did not help themselves by playing the full match with 10 men after Mattia De Sciglio was sent off a minute after kick off. They suffered their third consecutive heavy defeat, confirming they are out of the race for Europa League spot. Lazio dropped two points at Atalanta, which Roma took advantage of to move back into second in the table. The Giallorossi have some confidence back and they are playing better football than in previous weeks.The visitors recovered some good form just when they needed it to defend second place from Lazio. They have a more favourable end to the season than their cross-town rivals, but the derby in the 37th round will be crucial. They need a positive result here.
Blast From the Past
AC Milan came from behind twice to earn a point in a 2-2 draw with Roma in Serie A last season.