Serie A Preview: AC Milan v. Hellas Verona

Date: Sunday, December 13, 2015

Kickoff: 9:00 AM ET (USA)  /  15:00 CET (ITA)

Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy

League Position: Milan (8), Verona (20)

As if to mock us for not being able to take out the 19th placed team in Serie A last weekend, the fates have seen fit to send us the last placed team in the league at home this round. It’s as if the universe is saying, surely you can’t muck this one up?

I bet we can. Actually I know we can. I hope we don’t. But don’t kid yourself, we can.

We could just as easily win 4-0. But there’s no such thing as a sure thing at Milan anymore, hasn’t been for a while now really.

There are points out there for us in our next few games, and we can still salvage this stretch. However, the ruthlessness I called for in my last preview was exactly what we lacked against Carpi and remains a necessity especially against Verona, the worst team in Serie A this season.

Better get some ball.

Better get some ball.

Tale of the Tape

I mean, what’s there to say really? As decidedly mediocre as the Rossoneri have been, they outpace Verona in just about every major statistical category. Not as much as we’d like to see over the last place team, mind you, but the numbers are clearly in Milan’s favor. Fat lot of good that did us against Carpi though…

Hellas have not scored in 5 of their last 6 matches (they’ve scored just 10 goals all season), they’ve lost  4 straight, and have yet to record a victory this season. There is no excuse for not winning this game.

Missing Pieces

Diego Lopez, De Jong, and Antonelli remain unavailable for the Rossoneri.

Hellas have had their injury problems for sure. Former Milan men Pazzini and Albertazzi are both out. Starting defender Souprayen can’t suit up and midfielders Matuzalem and Romulo have barely featured all season.

Possible Line-up

Donnarumma

Abate – Alex – Romagnoli – De Sciglio

Bertolacci – Kucka – Mauri – Bonaventura

Bacca – Niang

It’s not a much different side than what we used against Carpi, with a few notable exceptions. I’m not going to slaughter Cerci for his performance last round, but it highlighted the poor decision-making and lack of quality in the final third that I mentioned last week. If Bertolacci is fit I have him on the right side this weekend to see if he can provide an improvement, mainly in those areas.

Montolivo too has not exactly been poor, but he’s not providing the creativity Milan need to break these weaker sides, or really any side, down. I still want to see Mauri get a real chance in Serie A, and once again if you can’t play him against relegation candidates, why did you buy him?

Abate taught Cerci how to cross. And shoot, apparently.

Abate taught Cerci how to cross. And shoot, apparently.

What to Watch for:

Danger Man – Yikes. Viviani, I guess? The 23-year old has a decent shot from distance which is hopefully the only way Hellas can trouble Donnarumma on Sunday. He’s also stout defensively though, and if he can get stuck in and frustrate Milan’s easily frustrated midfield we’re in for another, well, frustrating evening. So maybe he’s not so much a danger man as he is a likely-to-cause-anger man.

Forward Tandem – Niang and Bacca are going to have to start creating more of their own opportunities, that’s the reality. But rather than going it alone and simply driving towards net, if these two (or whoever the two are) can play with some understanding they will be able to make just a little bit more out of nothing. We play more long balls than almost anyone in the league, and while neither of these guys is a true target type of player, a little bit of that type of game could bear fruit. Simple knock-downs, strong hold-up play, layoffs: until this midfield gets sorted it might take these types of ugly but effective plays to get Milan on the score sheet.

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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