Serie A Preview: Milan – Parma


The Rossoneri are unbeaten in five matches but face a stiff test against the high-flying Ducali…

Kick Off: Saturday, October 31, 20:45 CET.
Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan

Building Confidence

Milan were moments away from four straight victories in midweek, but conceded two goals in injury time against Napoli to draw the game. Dida had been performing heroics in goal to keep the two-goal advantage intact, while Alexandre Pato’s recent run of good form continued with another well-taken goal.

The Partenopei claimed the draw felt like a victory, while the Rossoneri were fuming that they could not hold onto all three points in the San Paolo. Ignazio Abate’s late red card proved to be a key point in the match, and it may prove to be a valuable lesson for rookie coach Leonardo. Nonetheless, Milan have now not lost in five games in all competitions – a run that seemed unthinkable only a month ago.

It has propelled them up to fifth place in the league, which will be a big confidence boost to the side. The challenge now is to keep the streak going. Only three points separate fourth place from 12th, and the Rossoneri are the only side in the top half with a negative goal difference. Most importantly, Inter still sit on top of the league – four points ahead of second-placed Juventus and nine ahead of Milan.

Crisis-hit Real Madrid are the next to visit San Siro, and Leonardo’s side then have a trip to Lazio, who have not won in Serie A since August. Both teams will be desperate to win, and Milan’s defence will be key in keeping their good form going. However, the fact that they have only kept one clean sheet in their last ten games – against Bari – suggests that this will not be as straightforward as it might seem.

Guidolin’s Gialloblu

Parma are not only back where they belong in Italy’s top flight, their impressive home form has pushed them into a Champions League spot. Their surprising defeat to Cagliari put a blemish on this record, and they are not expected to feature heavily in the fight for European places this season, but coach Francesco Guidolin will be delighted with the start to the season.

The Gialloblu’s record away from the Stadio Ennio Tardini is not quite so impressive, but not many sides will return from trips to the likes of Udinese, Inter and Sampdoria with something to show for their efforts. A win in the Stadio Olimpico against Lazio put valuable points on the board for the Ducali, but their last away match ended in a 3-1 defeat to Atalanta.

If recent history is anything to go by, however, Parma are in for a difficult evening at the Giuseppe Meazza. Their last victory against Milan came in 2003 – a 1-0 win at the Ennio Tardini – and they have lost almost every encounter thereafter. Parma picked up a draw in both matches against the Rossoneri in 2007-08, but they were relegated at the end of the season.

Despite this, the Ducali will take heart from the performances of Bari and Zurich at San Siro earlier this term. Milan failed to beat both sides in front of their home fans, and the Gialloblu will believe that they can pick up at least a point when the sides meet on Saturday.


FORM GUIDE

Milan

October 28 v Napoli (A) – DREW 2-2 (Serie A)

October 25 v Chievo Verona (A) – WON 2-1 (Serie A)

October 21 v Real Madrid (A) – WON 3-2 (Champions League)

October 18 v Roma (H) – WON 2-1 (Serie A)

October 4 v Atalanta (A) – DREW 1-1 (Serie A)

Parma

October 28 v Bari (H) – WON 2-0 (Serie A)

October 25 v Atalanta (A) – LOST 3-1 (Serie A)

October 18 v Siena (H) – WON 1-0 (Serie A)

October 4 v Sampdoria (A) – DREW 1-1 (Serie A)

September 27 v Cagliari (H) – LOST 2-0 (Serie A)

TEAM NEWS

Milan

Alessandro Nesta is a major doubt for the match, but even if he proves his fitness it is unlikely that he will be risked ahead of next week’s clash with Real Madrid. Gennaro Gattuso has returned to full training, but Abate is suspended.

Probable Starting XI (4-3-3):
Dida; Oddo, Thiago Silva, Kaladze, Zambrotta; Ambrosini, Pirlo, Seedorf; Pato, Borriello, Ronaldinho.

Parma

Luca Antonelli has picked up a thigh injury and will miss the match against his former club. He joins the likes of Jonathan Biabiany, McDonald Mariga and Andrea Pisanu on the sidelines.

Probable Starting XI (5-3-2):
Mirante; Zenoni, Zaccardo, Panucci, Lucarelli, Castellini; Dzemaili, Morrone, Galloppa; Paloschi, Bojinov.


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Ronaldinho (Milan)

The Brazilian has been showing more and more signs of finding his old form, and has also been finding the back of the net in recent weeks. With Parma employing a five-man back line, he will need to use all his creativity and guile to spread the ball behind the opposition wing-backs or set his fellow strikers through on goal.

Alberto Paloschi (Parma)

The 19-year-old has scored twice in the last two games for Parma and is beginning to forge an excellent partnership with Valeri Bojinov. The absence of Nesta will be a boost to the attacking duo, and Paloschi will be eager to score his fifth goal of the season against his former club.

PREDICTION

Milan’s early-season struggles appear to be over and they should have secured their fourth win in four games against Napoli. Parma will find it difficult to take anything away from this match.

Milan 3-1 Parma

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