Serie A Preview: Carpi v. AC Milan

Date: Sunday, December 6, 2015

Kickoff: 2:45 PM ET (USA)  /  20:45 CET (ITA)

League Position: Milan (7), Carpi (19)

Stadio Alberto Braglia, Modena, Italy

After a solid stretch of results broken up only by a tepid performance against Juve, one might think this match against Serie A debutantes Carpi would be a breeze. But if you’ve been paying attention the past few seasons and have witnessed the struggles the Rossoneri have had against the likes of Sassuolo and Empoli, you know there is no room for error or a let-up against a side that will need every measly point they can get.

Carpi have struggled as expected with just 9 points from their first 14 matches. But they come into this match with two successive wins, last round at Genoa and then midweek in the Coppa Italia against Serie B side Vicenza, And they employ a few former (but not favorite) Milanisti who would surely relish the chance to stick it to their former club.

In the end, I do expect that we win comfortably. Not in an arrogant way, it’s just the reality. But Milan’s new reality means that the preparation and execution needed for any match still must be there for us to make this expected result happen.

Tale of the Tape

Last 6 Serie A matches:

Milan: WWWDLW
Carpi: LLDLLW

Milan, meet Carpi. Carpi, Milan. These two sides have never met! Never ever. Not in a competitive match anyway. Hopefully this one won’t be too competitive either…

Carpi have allowed 27 goals on the season, the highest total in Serie A. They’ve scored just 13, and 3 of those were put in by that mercurial striker “Own Goal.”

Both sides have conceded 6 times from set pieces. Milan have also scored 6 from dead ball situations. Carpi have not scored any. When you consider the high average number of fouls these teams commit (close to 16 per match each) this could certainly be another advantage for the Rossoneri.

It’s not that Carpi haven’t made chances to score. Their 12 shots per match is right behind our 13, and both teams average 4 shots on target. And not that Milan’s strike force can boast about being to prolific, but Carpi as a side have just not finished well.

Carpi are last in the league in average possession at 40%. Milan’s average is climbing, now up to 48%, good for 12th in the table. Carpi are second to last in passing percentage with 73%. Milan are all the way up in 10th at 78%. I expect both of our averages to rise after Sunday.

Not who I'd run to hug, but you do you, M'Baye.

Not who I’d run to hug, but you do you, M’Baye.

Missing Pieces

A shame that Antonelli joins the injured list with Bertolacci, De Jong, and Diego Lopez. Balotelli returned to light training but he still has a few weeks to go, and Jeremy Menez has apparently fallen off the face of the Earth.

Fedele and Bubnjic are out for Carpi. I won’t pretend to know who they are if you don’t. Anyway, neither has recorded a goal or an assist this season despite close to 20 appearance between them.

Possible Line-up

Donnarumma

Abate – Alex – Romagnoli – De Sciglio

Cerci – Kucka – Mauri – Bonaventura

Bacca – Niang

The midfield still needs work, no doubt. The Juventus match highlighted that quite clearly. But the change to a 4-4-2 has increased their responsibility and some of them responded against Sampdoria. Really all of them but Montolivo, if you ask me. I don’t think he’s been that poor mind you, I just don’t think he’s the answer. He never really has been. I know Mauri didn’t really impress against Crotone midweek, but the 19-year old was downright special at times with Parma and I think this is the perfect match to slot him in. No disrespect to Carpi, but against a struggling new side and with the full compliment of our recent line-up around him, I’d really like to see what the young Italy youth national can do with the trust of a Serie A start.

De Sciglio comes back in for the injured Antonelli. The latter has been solid, but De Sciglio was playing well on the right before Abate’s return. He’s never looked quite as good on the left but he’s clearly an able replacement. Romagnoli’s play has been a breath of fresh air after our CB play in recent years, and until he screws up it looks likely that Alex plays his partner.

Kucka had his best match in a Milan shirt against Samp, and Cerci and Jack were very pesky on the flanks. Cerci in particular seems to be having a bit of a mini-renaissance, even if his decisions in the final third are still quite baffling at times. But even Alessio couldn’t mess up the decision to write the names Bacca and Niang in bold letters in the squad for Sunday.

Two of our best.

Two of our best.

What to Watch for:

Danger Man – I can’t believe I’m typing this in 2015, but the danger man for this week has to be Marco Borriello. I mean, right? He’s Carpi’s top scorer and set-up man with 3 goals and 3 assists on the year. 2 of those goals have come as a substitute and all of his stats are from just 9 matches, so all things considered he’s in decent form. Never the most skillful striker, or the fastest, what the noted lothario has always had is strength and we’ll see how Milan’s back line deals with attempts to bully them. He’s certainly a player I feel we can contain, but against a side that will almost certainly park the bus if they score, all he needs to do is muscle in one chance for the night to get a whole lot more difficult for Mihajlovic’s men.

Attitude – Long gone are the days when Milan could beat sides like Carpi in their sleep. This match must be approached like any other and I’ll be looking for signs of that in both the line-up chosen and how Milan choose to attack the first 15-20 minutes of play. We’ve been burned very recently by hungry, newly-promoted sides looking for their first big Serie A scalp. In short, we need to be ruthless. If Milan are ever to rise back to their former glory we’ve got to consistently prove that at the very least these small provincial sides should fear Il Diavolo.niang2

About Dave Lamb

Dave Lamb is a lifelong Milan supporter, public school teacher, and aspiring stand-up comedian living in Boston. You can follow him on twitter @DaveLambComedy

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