AC Milan will be hoping to bounce back to winning ways when they lock horns with Parma in Matchweek 30 of the 2020/21 Serie A this weekend.

AC Milan will be hoping to strengthen their grip on the second place in the Serie A table when they travel to Stadio Ennio Tardini to face off against relegation battlers Parma on Saturday evening.

Having been the pace-setters in the Serie A title race in the first half of the season, AC Milan have struggled to maintain the same level since the turn of the year. As a result, they have been overtaken by neighbours Inter Milan, who sit 11 points above the Rossoneri following their midweek victory over Sassuolo.

With the title all but gone, Stefano Pioli’s men need to ensure that they at least ensure qualification to the Champions League. However, Milan are just four points above Napoli in fifth and following their 1-1 draw versus Sampdoria last time out, they have won just once in their last five games in all competitions. So, it is imperative that Pioli & co. turn things around at the earliest.

Parma, meanwhile, look destined for the drop back to Serie B as they are currently 19th in the table, four points below 17th-placed Torino. Roberto D’Aversa’s side have just one win in their last 21 games in all competitions (D8 L12) and were held to a 2-2 draw by Benevento last time out. Time’s running out fast for the Crociati, who will need to rack up some wins if they are to have any hopes of survival.

The reverse fixture, played out in December last year at San Siro, saw AC Milan come back from behind to hold Parma to a 2-2 draw, with Theo Hernandez scoring a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser. Ahead of their latest meeting this weekend, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Parma

Nicolussi Caviglia has been ruled out for the rest of the season for Parma while the likes of Simone Iacoponi, Joshua Zirkzee, Roberto Inglese, Juan Brunetta, Yann Karamoh, Wylan Ciprien, Valentin Mihaila and Simon Sohm are out with injuries and do not make the 25-man squad named by manager Roberto D’Aversa.

Parma will set up in a 4-3-3 formation in front of goalkeeper Luigi Sepe. Andrea Conti, on loan from AC Milan, will slot in at right-back while Giuseppe Pezzella will take up the left side of the defence. The duo ought to flank Mattia Bani and Riccardo Gagliolo, who will have the unenviable task of dealing with the menacing Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Hernani, who happens to be Parma’s top-scorer in Serie A this term, will hold the fort down in the middle of the park with support coming from Juraj Kucka and Jasmin Kurtic, both of whom will also look to break forward and create overloads in attack when the team are in possession.

Veteran winger Gervinho will carry a major threat from out wide on the left while Dennis Man, who scored in the last game against Benevento, should slot in on the right and look to exploit any spaces left behind by Theo Hernandez. Graziano Pelle will be the man to lead Parma’s attack against Milan.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Sepe; Conti, Bani, Gagliolo, Pezzella; Kucka, Hernani, Kurtic; Man, Pelle, Gervinho

AC Milan

Mario Mandzukic is back in the travelling squad after having had a spell out on the sidelines. However, right-back Davide Calabria remains sidelined for AC Milan. Stefano Pioli is expected to make a few changes to the side that largely underwhelmed in the 1-1 draw against Sampdoria last time out.

No alteration is expected in goal, however, with Gianluigi Donnarumma the undisputed starter. Simon Kjaer and Fikayo Tomori, who has been impressive since arriving on loan from Chelsea, should form the centre-back pairing.

Diogo Dalot should return at right-back after the Alexis Saelemaekers experiment bombed badly last time out while Theo Hernandez is a certainty at left-back, with his forward forays being a key component of AC Milan’s attacking play.

Franck Kessie and Ismael Bennacer will form the midfield partnership, looking to shield the backline when not in possession and driving the team forward when on the ball. Hakan Calhanoglu, who is a target for Chelsea and Arsenal, will carry the creative burden for the Rossoneri in the No. 10 role.

Saelamaekers ought to get the nod on the right wing ahead of the ineffective Samu Castillejo while Ante Rebic should feature wide on the left. Zlatan Ibrahimovic will spearhead the AC Milan attack at the Ennio Tardini.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Dalot, Kjaer, Tomori, Hernandez; Bennacer, Kessie; Saelamaekers, Calhanoglu, Rebic; Ibrahimovic

Key Stats

  • After the 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture, AC Milan and Parma could draw both matches in a single Serie A season for the first time since 2007.
  • AC Milan have scored at least two goals in 19 of their last 20 away matches in Serie A.
  • Parma are the team with the least number of wins in Serie A this term (3).
  • AC Milan are unbeaten in their last five matches against Parma across all competitions.
  • Parma have conceded at least 2 goals in 10 of their last 11 matches in Serie A,

Player to Watch

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Embed from Getty Images

15 goals in 16 league games is an amazing return for a player who is touching his forties. However, since the turn of the year, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has had a few injury problems which seem to have affected his form somewhat. Indeed, the Swedish powerhouse has managed just one goal in his last five Serie A matches and Milan have failed to win three of those.

It goes without saying that even at his age, Ibrahimovic remains one of, if not the most important players for AC Milan. And him getting back into groove will be crucial for the Rossoneri with teams from below closing the gap to them quite rapidly. Against the second-worst defence in the league, the veteran should fancy his chances.

Prediction

Parma 1-2 AC Milan

Parma have a woeful record in Serie A this season, having won the least number of matches by any team, conceding the second-highest number of goals (56) while scoring the least (28). So, they stand very little chance against an AC Milan side that will be raring to bounce back strongly from recent setbacks. The Hard Tackle, thus, predicts the Rossoneri to come out on top this Saturday.

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