Serie A Preview: AC Milan v. Bologna

Date: Wednesday, January 6, 2016

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

League Position: Milan (6), Bologna (15)

Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy

Our run of matches against the bottom quarter of the Serie A table coninues after the break with Roberto Donadoni and Bologna visiting Milan on Wednesday. And don’t let the second half against Frosinone fool you, this little “easy” streak has proven to be anything but.

The three points against the newcomers did vault the Rossoneri into 6th place but the two dour draws that preceded it mean we are now four points back of 5th place and a spot at the European kids’ table. I shouldn’t actually make fun of Europa League. I should be relishing the prospect of visiting Norway or Kazakhstan on a Thursday.

Milan have a lot of work to do if that’s what they still strive for, and some of the moves made during this latest transfer period are going to hopefully (but I won’t say ‘probably’) show us how serious they are. But any success in the window will still be for naught if we can’t take care of teams like Bologna at the San Siro, so here’s to another three points, deserved or otherwise, on Wednesday.

The Frosinone player represents Cerci in this metaphor.

The Frosinone player represents Cerci in this metaphor.

Tale of the Tape

Last 6 Serie A matches

Milan: DLWDDW

Bologna: WDLWWL

Which Bologna will show up for this match, the one that lost seven of its first eight league games after being dumped from Coppa Italia by Lega Pro side Pavia, or the one that recently shocked Napoli with a 3-2 victory? Hopefully it’s whatever Bologna has failed to defeat Milan in 11 straight attempts.

Got to give them the set piece advantage this round. While we have scored 7, we’ve also conceded 7. Bologna have netted five without allowing a single goal from a set piece all season.

Bologna have one of the lowest possession stats in Italy with around just 44% of the ball. So we’re looking at another side likely to sit back, although Milan play in their own third (27% of the time) just slightly less than their visitors have (28%).

They also average a high number of interceptions (22), so waiting for us to lose possession (only Empoli gives the ball away more) and hitting us on the break seems like a likely tactic. The silver lining? None of Bologna’s goals this seasons have been recorded as having come from the counter.

Finally, it’s nice to see us sliding down the charts as far as playing long ball is concerned. We’re now down in 9th with 68 big boots per match. Bologna’s rare possession is at least partially explained by them topping this chart with 73,

Missing Pieces

Balotelli is on the mend but likely still unfit for this match. I imagine Diego Lopez and Jeremy Menez riding a tandem stationary bike and eating ice cream together. Most importantly, Romagnoli is out suspended, so just think about the options I have fore my next segment.

Bologna will be without experienced attacker Franco Brienza, young (23) attacker Luca Rizzo, and still younger (21) Swedish defender Emil Krafth, all due to injury.

Possible Line-up

Donnarumma

Abate – Mexes – Alex – De Sciglio

Honda – De Jong – Bertolacci – Bonaventura

Bacca – Niang

Can De Jong play center back? That’s at least a slightly serious question, and assuming the answer is probably “no” I still want the big Dutchman in for defensive cover this time around. The prospect of a Romagnli-less unit is keeping me up at night. Zapata and Ely are really the only other options besides the two I’ve chosen.

Honda certainly should have gotten his name on the score sheet in Frosinone, but for me he had a good all-around match and deserves to stay on his wing. No other changes besides removing Monty in the midfield.

Niang has cooled off, but I still prefer him to Adriano who has looked better in his late substitute appearances. It will be interesting to see if Mario gets a real sniff at returning to the strike force if and when he is back healthy with Milan.

The footballer currently known as Prince.

The footballer currently known as Prince.

What to Watch for:

Danger Man – I’m going with Bologna’s young, Moroccan-born left back Adam Masina this week. He’s one of Bologna’s highest rated players and has started 16 out of 17 matches on the year, scoring twice and leading his squad with 3 assists. The main reason I’m choosing him this week however, is that he plays on the left. I could have gone with Giaccherini for the same reason. Abate likes to get forward and Honda doesn’t really track back. Especially with Bologna looking to trap Milan up top and counter, I believe our right side is especially vulnerable this round, and that’s exactly where the energetic Masina plies his trade.

Familiar Faces – This weeks match sees former Rossoneri return on both sides of the ball. Boateng has somehow, someway managed to find his way back to Milan, and while I won’t write him off before he’s seen any action, I truly wonder exactly how anyone in management at Milan thinks he can be anything more than a role player. I suppose we should just hope he’s a role player who keeps his mouth shut and does the job asked of him. Not that that worked out in Germany. On the opposing side, Mattia Destro, whose time at Milan was so short and so fruitless that he was hardly ever welcomed into the red and black. Milan, in my experience, have a habit of being a little too welcoming when former players return as opponents.

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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