All the Serie A clubs return to league duty this weekend following the International break and Chievo Verona possibly have one of the most difficult tasks when they travel to the San Siro on Saturday evening to face an in form Milan side. The Gialloblu’s four players on international duty all had a successful ten day period. Firstly, new midfielder Kevin Constant was the hero for his country as his Guinea side defeated one of the pre-tournament favourites Nigeria in their qualifying group for the 2012 African Cup of Nations. Constant scored the only goal after five minutes. Defenders Bostjan Cesar and Bojan Jokic played the whole of both of Slovenia’s Euro 2012 qualifiers, a 5-1 home win over Faroe Islands and a 1-0 away win in Tallin against in form Estonia. These results have sent all three players back to Verona with a spring in their steps as they prepare for their toughest fixture to date. Deadline day signing Gelson Fernandes found himself on the bench for Switzerland’s home game with Wales. He was introduced as a 91st minute substitute as the Swiss crushed their visitors 4-1.
The Flying Donkey’s don’t have the best record in the San Siro. In fact, since 2001, they have played eight league games in the San Siro. The record reads six Milan wins and two draws. This means that the Gialloblu are going into a ground looking for an away win against a side that they have never beaten on their travels. Milan has dragged themselves into fourth spot currently with eleven points from six games. This puts them one place and one point above the Gialloblu and just inside the Champions League spots. Judging on their away form so far this season however, it would take a brave man to bet against the Gialloblu achieving something in the San Siro. With only two games played outside of the Stadio Bentegodi, the Flying Donkey’s have won both 3-1, in the Stadio Luigi Ferraris against Genoa and the Stadio San Paolo against Napoli. Both grounds and opposition are ones which the Gialloblu traditionally struggle against, so the omens are good for Saturday’s game in the San Siro.
In personnel news, Milan are expected to opt for Alexandre Pato up front in order to rest Zlatan Ibrahimovic who is believed to be suffering from a hernia. Pato returns from International duty with Brazil having scored in both friendlies against Iran and Ukraine. Behind him, his Brazilian teammate Robinho is expected to feature alongside fit again former Portsmouth front man Kevin Prince-Boateng.
On their end, the Gialloblu only have the two players unavailable. Brazilian midfielder Luciano is still missing with the knee injury he picked up during the Week 3 defeat at home to Brescia. Their other absentee is Argentine defender Santiago Morera. This means that the Gialloblu’s back line is likely to remain unchanged with Gennaro Sardo at right back, Andrea Mantovani at left back and a central defensive partnership of Bostjan Cesar and Marco Andreolli. This was the back four during the week six goal less draw at home to Cagliari which was the Flying Donkey’s first clean sheet of the season.
It is in midfield where Coach Stefano Pioli has a few options available to him. The Coach has opted all season to keep the same shape in midfield with three central midfielders and an attacking midfielder in front to link the play with the front men. Against Cagliari the midfield three were Simone Bentivoglio, Luca Rigoni and Kevin Constant. In front of them, Pioli opted for on loan Napoli man Mariano Bogliacino. Equally, the Coach could opt to introduce new signing Gelson Fernandes (who was signed from France on transfer deadline day) who has appeared from the bench so far this season, or he could recall veteran experienced midfielder Michele Marcolini who has been restricted to mainly substitute appearances this season.
Up front, Pioli has fewer options available to him with basically just a choice of picking two strikers from a possible three senior front men. Sergio Pellissier as captain will always be the first of those three to be on the team sheet, and having recovered from a back strain he was able to take his place for the last home game with Cagliari. Pioli then rotates his other two strikers, Uruguayan striker Pablo Granoche and former Piacenza goal getter Davide Moscardelli. Currently, Pellissier is one of the leading Serie A scorers with four goals in six games, whilst Moscardelli has two strikes to his name. Saturday’s trip to the San Siro is a very tough game and as far as the Gialloblu is concerned, it is likely to be won or lost in the midfield area.