AC Milan enter a crucial stage in their season when they take on Parma, with every game between now and the end of the season deemed a must-win.

The race for the top-four is picking up heat in the Serie A, with as many as four teams eyeing the fourth spot on the table. AC Milan are the current incumbents of the fourth spot, although there’s the looming threat of Roma and Atalanta behind them, who are trying the best to usurp them. Milan currently sit within Champions League places, although they are far from being safe, as they lead Roma by just a point.

Gennaro Gattuso’s men overcame the challenge of Lazio last weekend when they secured a narrow 1-0 victory over their top-four rivals. The win did have its own controversial moments, but Gattuso would not care for those as for him the three points were more than necessary. Milan now travel to take on Parma, who have their own set of challenges to worry about.

Parma, who currently are six points away from the relegation zone might be thinking of relaxing a bit. The six-point cushion might seem to be enough for them to avoid the drop this season, but with six games still remaining, anything can happen in the race for safety. Any points dropped could come back to bite them when the season reaches its closure.

One will wonder, how Parma are away from the relegation zone, as the side are in a terrible run of form. Parma have only a single win in their last twelve games and none in their previous five. Their last two matches, which came against Torino and Sassuolo, ended in goalless draws. Parma needs to dig deep and find ways to get results on board and keep as much distance between themselves and the relegation zone as possible.

Team News & Tactics

Parma

Parma have to face Milan knowing they have a few injury problems in their side. Alberto Grassi, Jonathan Biabiany and Roberto Inglese are all out of the game with injuries, while there could be returns for some key players.

Winger Gervinho and defender Bruno Alves are both available for the Milan clash and should straight away slot into the starting lineup. As for Gervinho, his place in the side is clear, but for Alves to come into the starting lineup, fellow defender Alessandro Bastoni will likely make way.

Parma will set themselves up in their typical 4-3-3 style with the likes of Gervinho, Fabio Ceravolo and Mattia Sprocati leading the line for the team. Juraj Kucka, Matteo Scozzarella and Antonino Barilla will be entrusted with midfield duties, while Alves will be partnered by Riccardo Gagliolo in central defence.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Sepe; Iacoponi, Alves, Gagliolo, Dimarco; Barilla, Scozzarella, Kucka; Sprocati, Ceravolo, Gervinho

AC Milan

Gattuso has been boosted by the quick recovery made by Lucas Paqueta after the midfielder was not expected to be back for a few more weeks. Despite his return to training, Paqueta might still find himself out of the starting lineup, as the manager would not take any risks with the midfielder. That could mean another game for Hakan Calhanoglu in midfield.

Giacomo Bonaventura is still an absentee and will play no part against Parma. Fabio Borini, who started against Lazio last weekend should keep his place on the left wing, while his partners in the attack are expected to be the in-form Krzysztof Piatek and Suso.

Calhanoglu will be partnered by last weekend’s penalty scorer Franck Kessie and Tiemoue Bakayoko. In defence, Milan will likely remain unchanged with Davide Calabria, Mateo Musacchio, Alessio Romagnoli and Ricardo Rodriguez forming the back four, as they intend to keep yet another clean sheet. Gianluigi Donnarumma is fit again and should return between the sticks.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Bakayoko, Calhanoglu; Suso, Piatek, Borini

Key Stats

  • AC Milan have won eight of their last 11 Serie A games against Parma (D1 L2), scoring at least two goals in nine of those.
  • Both teams have scored in each of Parma’s last two Serie A home games against Milan, with seven goals scored overall.
  • AC Milan have won seven of their last eight Serie A away matches in Emilia Romagna and kept a clean sheet in six of those.
  • Parma have picked up just 10 points in their 13 Serie A games in 2019 (W2 D4 L7)
  • Parma’s last two league games have ended goalless (0-0 against Torino and Sassuolo). They have never drawn three consecutively 0-0 in Serie A.

Player to Watch

Franck Kessie

Will Kessie lead again by example? (Photo courtesy: AFP/Getty)

Will Kessie lead again by example? (Photo courtesy: AFP/Getty)

The Milan midfielder has proven his credentials this season, and the club needs him to be at his A-game more than ever now. With Champions League qualification being the target, Kessie needs to step up further and ensure his side hold on to the fourth spot remain the favourites to qualify.

In recent months, Gattuso has entrusted Kessie with more responsibilities than before and the spot kick against Lazio last weekend proved that fact. Kessie now will have to show leadership qualities to prove his worth and become an undisputed starter for his club in the coming seasons.

Prediction

Parma 0-2 AC Milan

Parma, if they are to continue dropping points like they have done in recent games, then there is a general fear that they might be dragged into a relegation battle. With only two points collected from their last two games, Parma need to get results on the board and ensure they keep their distance from the relegation zone.

AC Milan on the other hand, are embroiled in a tight battle for the fourth spot with AS Roma, Atalanta and even Lazio in contention. Milan’s hard-fought win over Lazio proved that Gattuso has a plan for the side and will likely lead his team to yet another victory against Parma. We predict Milan to be the clear winners against Parma and keep hold of their fourth spot for now.

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