The Rossoneri will face a tough task in dismantling the high-on-confidence side from Udine...Winter Champions March On
Against Cagliari in Sardinia on Thursday, Milan appeared to struggle in the attacking department. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic suspended and out of action, the Rossoneri were missing the spark and were also allowing the hosts to take the game to them.
The introduction of their final trump card Antonio Cassano in the 74th minute, though, changed the contour of the match as the Italy international crafted Rodney Strasser’s winning goal five minutes from full-time.
The narrow 1-0 victory actually stretched Milan's lead at the top of the table in Serie A to five points after both Lazio and Napoli failed to gather maximum points and confirmed their status as winter champions. With 39 points from 18 matches, the former Italian and European champions are marching on towards their first Scudetto triumph since 2004.
However, against Udinese on Sunday the Diavolo should expect themselves to come up against a strong side who could make them sweat yet again. Massimiliano Allegri's team, though, do have a formidable record at San Siro this season, having won six out of nine league fixtures, scoring 17 goals in the process. They have also won seven of their last nine Serie A encounters and have lost just one of them.
The Fairytale Ride Continues
Udinese continue to go from strength to strength in Serie A and feed their dream to qualify for Europe next season. The Bianconeri's 2-0 victory over Chievo in Udine on Thursday came despite them having been reduced to ten men after 34 minutes because of the sending off of Giampiero Pinzi and attested their mettle and turnaround in attitude.
Francesco Guidolin's side are currently eighth in the league standings with 26 points from 18 matches and are just four points off a Europa League spot. A place in Europe is still improbable given the quality of the teams above them in the table but stranger things have happened in football and the Zebrette would be eager to script their own little fairytale.
However, Udinese need to improve their away form as they have lost six of their nine matches on the road. As a matter of fact, the Udine-based team's recent record on the road is terribly wretched as they have gone down in their last four league encounters away from home.
Inzaghi, Abbiati, Pirlo, Boateng and Zambrotta are injured for the Rossoneri while Ambrosini is suspended. Ibrahimovic is back from suspension and will line up alongside Robinho and Pato in a three-pronged attack. Nesta is also back and will start in central defence but Cassano could remain on the bench.
Basta and Ferronetti are unavailable for the match against Milan and Pinzi is suspended. Di Natale and Alexis Sanchez will start upfront in a 3-5-2 formation.