Hellas Verona-AC Milan Preview: Minnows face Rossoneri on Serie A return
Massimiliano Allegri's side being their 2013-14 campaign with a trip to the Marc'Antonio Bentegodi fresh from a spirited draw with PSV in midweek
By Matthew Rogerson
AC Milan will play their 4,000th competitive game when they face Verona in Serie A's opening game at Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi on Saturday.
Massimiliano Allegri is likely to see this campaign as an opportunity to move on from what was a mixed season last time out.
After a poor start, which saw Milan win just one of their opening four games, Allegri was quickly under fire.
However, he eventually secured a place in the UEFA Champions League play-offs thanks to a dramatic 2-1 win in the final game against Siena to ensure they finished third.
Verona enjoyed a much more positive season as they finished second behind Sassuolo to secured promotion from Serie B.
Milan full-back Ignazio Abate believes their opponents will see the arrival of the 18-time Scudetto winners as a "dream".
Abate, who assisted Stephan El Shaarawy's header in Milan's 1-1 Champions League draw with PSV on Tuesday, told the club's official website: "We will have a big game on a difficult pitch.
"We expect it will be sold out in Verona, it has been their desire and dream so we need to watch out."
The 26-year-old also believes a boosted togetherness within the camp can help Milan improve on their third-place finish last season.
"We are an amazing group, it is an adjective that is taken for granted, but it is. We are very united and we get on well," he continued.
"Since last year the group has cemented itself a lot, and Massimiliano Allegri has squared the circle. It will be a long season, and there will be difficult moments where we will suffer.
"Our objectives are to remain attached to the top teams, then we'll see what happens in the last two months."
Allegri could have defender Mattia De Sciglio (knee) and Brazilian forward Robinho (thigh) available after injury, with both players returning to training after Tuesday's draw in Eindhoven.
While Milan come into the game having only managed a draw with PSV, Verona picked up a 1-0 win in the Coppa Italia over Palermo on Saturday thanks to a Luca Toni goal.
Andrea Mandorlini has since strengthened his side with the loan acquisition of Samuele Longo from Inter, with the 21-year-old anticipating a challenge this season - starting with a clash against his parent club's fierce rivals.
The 21-year-old told the club's official website: "(Verona) was one of the first teams to look for me and I immediately accepted the offer to come to Verona.
"It's a challenge that I'm ready to deal with, I cannot wait (to) start."
Top 3 Predictions
Verona 0-3 Milan
- 21.32 %
Verona 0-2 Milan
- 19.91 %
Verona 1-3 Milan
- 11.9 %
|Serie A (SR-A)||20-Jan-2014||Milan 1 - Verona 0|
|Serie A (SR-A)||24-Aug-2013||Verona 2 - Milan 1|
|09-Mar-2014||Parma 2 - Verona 0||SR-A|
|02-Mar-2014||Verona 0 - Bologna 0||SR-A|
|23-Feb-2014||Livorno 2 - Verona 3||SR-A|
|18-Feb-2014||Verona 1 - Torino 3||SR-A|
|09-Feb-2014||Verona 2 - Juventus 2||SR-A|
|92||Stephan El Shaarawy||Striker|
|2||Mattia De Sciglio||Defender|
|34||Nigel De Jong||Midfielder|