Serie A Preview: Udinese - AC Milan
The Rossoneri's title challenge has taken a hit in recent weeks, but they face a tough task against an opponent hoping to jump back ahead of Lazio into third place
By Adam Scime
Benatia, Danilo, Domizzi
Basta, Isla, Pazienza, Fernandes, Armero
Abate, Mexes, Thiago Silva, Antonini
Emanuelson, Ambrosini, Nocerino
Robinho, El Shaarawy
The 3-2 loss at Fiorentina came with the added problem of Antonio Floro Flores picking up an injury, so Udinese boss Francesco Guidolin will not be able to call on the striker to partner Antonio Di Natale in attack while he has to deal with the other significant absences of Ghana midfield duo Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu and Kwadwo Asamoah still being on international duty as the Black Stars try to claim third place at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Midfielder Giampiero Pinzi is also out with the flu, but winter loan signings Gelson Fernandes and Michele Pazienza have settled quickly and are ready to feature once again. Hard-nosed defender Maurizio Domizzi could also start after in the three-man defence after recovering from an adductor muscle problem.
Meanwhile, AC Milan coach Massimiano Allegri has quite the selection headache: not only must he contend with injury-enforced absences that include the likes of Alessandro Nesta, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Alberto Aquilani, Antonio Cassano, and Alexandre Pato among others, but also two very notable suspensions.
Combative midfielder Mark van Bommel's booking in the 0-0 draw with Napoli resulted in a suspension for this match, while star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was handed a three-match ban for a slap on Salvatore Aronica during the same game. As a result, Emanuelson should get the nod due to his compatriot's absence, while promising youngster Stephen El Shaarawy or Maxi Lopez will look to pick up the slack up front alongside Robinho.
||DID YOU KNOW?|
- Udinese have the best home record in Serie A this season, so far unbeaten at the Stadio Friuli with 10 wins, one draw, and no losses.
- Guidolin's men have conceded 20 goals in league play this season, but only five on home soil.
- Di Natale has scored in five of his last six Serie A matches against the Rossoneri.
- AC Milan failed to score in consecutive matches for the first time since September 2009 after a loss to Lazio and draw with Napoli.
- Allegri's squad have collected the most points on the road this season, earning 20 points from 11 games.
- Over the last two seasons, Milan have actually won a better percentage of games without Ibrahimovic in the lineup (67 per cent) compared to when he does feature (60 per cent).
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Top 3 Predictions
Udinese 1-2 AC Milan
- 21.11 %
Udinese 2-1 AC Milan
- 13.42 %
Udinese 0-2 AC Milan
- 13.32 %
|Italy - Serie A (ITA1)||Mar 8, 2014||Udinese 1 - AC Milan 0|
|Italy - Coppa Italia (ITAC)||Jan 22, 2014||AC Milan 1 - Udinese 2|
|Italy - Serie A (ITA1)||Oct 19, 2013||AC Milan 1 - Udinese 0|
|Italy - Serie A (ITA1)||Feb 3, 2013||AC Milan 2 - Udinese 1|
|Italy - Serie A (ITA1)||Sep 23, 2012||Udinese 2 - AC Milan 1|
|Mar 8, 2014||Udinese 1 - AC Milan 0||ITA1|
|Mar 2, 2014||Cagliari 3 - Udinese 0||ITA1|
|Feb 23, 2014||Udinese 1 - Atalanta 1||ITA1|
|Feb 16, 2014||Genoa 3 - Udinese 3||ITA1|
|Feb 11, 2014||Fiorentina 2 - Udinese 0||ITAC|
|10||Antonio Di Natale||Striker|
|83||Antonio Floro Flores||Striker|
|92||Stephan El Shaarawy||Striker|
|Antonio Di Natale|
Serie A's top scorer has often revelled in matches against the Rossoneri and he could very well get on the scoresheet again even if he will have to deal with the likes of centre-back Thiago Silva keeping an eye on him.
With Ibrahimovic absent, Milan will need their creative players to shine more than usual and the veteran Dutchman will be the key figure in the hole behind the two forwards, hoping to supply the strikers in front of him with opportunities to score.
I am sure you have heard the saying that "when it rains, it pours". With the Rossoneri in a bad state due to poor form, injuries and suspensions, it is difficult to see them coming away with a result against a team that have been ruthless on home soil - Udinese have a decent opportunity to compound Milan's misery.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed