Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Saturday 9th Jan, 2016, 19:45 GMT
Roma and AC Milan meet on Saturday in Rome, and with the recent results showing no signs of improvement for either clubs, this game could well be decisive for the future of the respective managers Rudi Garcia and Sinisa Mihajlovic.
The anger of the fans of both the clubs have reached a boiling point and all these factors make this game a must win for both. Milan president Silvio Berlusconi is reportedly furious with their 1-0 defeat to Bologna at San Siro, and is ready to sack Mihajlovic if things don’t improve quickly. Milan are in seventh place and 10 points off the Champions League after 18 games. Berlusconi is livid because after spending ai??i??80m in the summer, the club are still plagued with the same problems they had a year ago. Reports believe that Mihajlovic must turn things around against Roma on Saturday to avoid the sack, with the club believed to be considering a Marcello Lippi and Cristian Brocchi team to replace him.
Having begun the season as title contenders, Roma are now in fifth position and the players don’t seem to have the right mentality on the pitch, as they were pegged back from a winning position against Chievo twice midweek. The on-going tension with the Ultras have made the situation uncomfortable from the beginning of the season, and recent results have only made it worse. Rudi Garcia refused to blame his players in a surprising post-match interview and reports suggest that his job is safe for now, although a loss against Milan could really spell danger for the Frenchman.
Team news and tactical brief
Roma threw away a 2-0 lead and were pegged back 3-3 by Chievo in a dramatic Bentegodi encounter on Wednesday. In an action-packed encounter Umar Sadiq and Alessandro Florenzi put them in front before Alberto Paloschi scrambled home Chievoai??i??s opener. Dario Dainelli offered a comeback at the 58th minute mark, although Iago Falque stepped up to fire home shortly after. With five minutes remaining, goal-line technology confirmed Pepe’s leveller from a free-kick, which Szczesny thought he had kept from crossing the line. Roma scored three times but were left with only a point, demonstrating in 90 minutes both the flair and sloppiness that have made them so frustrating under Rudi Garc a.
Mohamed Salah went off injured during the draw with Chievo, with fears he would miss the visit of the Rossoneri on Saturday. However, medical reports have ruled out a muscular lesion for Salah, and he could therefore be called for the match this weekend. Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi are both doubtful, while the likes of Strootman, Keita, Ucan and Ponce all miss the Milan game with injury. Edin Dzeko is sidelined through suspension.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Szczesny(GK); Florenzi, Manolas, Rudiger, Digne; Nainggolan, De Rossi, Pjanic; Gervinho, Sadiq, Iago Falque
The Milan players exited the pitch amidst a chorus of boos and whistles after their shock 1-0 defeat midweek. Keisuke Honda, Alessio Cerci and captain Riccardo Montolivo were the main targets after yet another disappointing afternoon for the trio. A clear lack of unity between the players were noticed as Montolivo tried to assemble the players to applaud the fans at the end of the game but Alex, Luiz Adriano and Carlos Bacca refused. Pressure is beginning to mount on the Diavolo after starting 2016 with a defeat.
Jeremy Menez, Mario Balotelli and Diego Lopez remain sidelined, but there are no fresh injury worries in the away team ahead of the trip to Rome. New signing Kevin-Prince Boateng is likely to play against Roma in place of the disappointing Honda.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-4-2):Donnarumma(Gk); Abate, Alex, Romagnoli, Antonelli; Boateng, Kucka, Bertolacci, Bonaventura; Niang, Bacca
- Roma are undefeated in 34 of their last 38 home matches in Serie A.
- Roma are undefeated in 10 of their last 11 home matches against AC Milan in all competitions.
- Milan recorded their last win at Stadio Olimpico back in 2011.
Players to Watch Out For
Umar Sadiq (AS Roma)
Eighteen years old and only promoted from the youth team at the end of last year, Sadiq’s two goals in 118 Serie A minutes are only one fewer than Edin Dzeko has managed in 1,172. Physically imposing at close to 6ft 4ins and capable of covering a lot of ground with his long strides, Sadiq is an intriguing athlete but his instinct for finding the gaps in the opposition’s defence is his strongest attribute. He scored 13 times in 10 goals for the Roma youth team prior to his promotion to the senior side. Signed on loan from Spezia in the summer, it already looks like a mere formality that Roma will take up their option to make his signing permanent in the summer for ai??i??2.5m.
Giacomo Bonaventura (AC Milan)
With Milan performing below par in Serie A, winning just one of their previous five league matches, Jack Bonaventura has become a pillar of consistency for the Rossoneri this season. Bonaventura has been in outstanding form. Not only is he creative, but he also gets himself into scoring positions which is not something every midfielder can do. The Italian international has four Serie A goals this season and is on the way to beating his total of seven in the league last season. During the tough times, Bonaventura has reacted like a leader. He has been the teamai??i??s talisman. His attitude is worthy of a true Milan player.
AS Roma 1ai??i??1 AC Milan
Both Roma and Milan are desperate to return to winning ways in the league. Roma head into Saturdayai??i??s clash with a severely-weakened squad and seeing that the Rossoneri experienced all sorts of problems in the 1-0 loss to Bologna, there is every chance we will see a low-scoring match at Stadio Olimpico.
Blast From the Past
Roma’s title aspirations were dented after AC Milan held on for a 0-0 draw on Saturday despite going down to 10 men in the second half.