Siena will have bad memories of their recent encounters with Milan – whom they face this Saturday. Last season Marco Giampaolo and his men lost both encounters to the Rossoneri – and the return leg, played at the Artemio Franchi, was the side’s heaviest home defeat of the season, as the Diavolo crushed them 5-1. Nevertheless, last season saw the Bianconeri obtain a sixth consecutive confirmation of their Serie A status, and a lot of the merit should go to the work of Coach Giampaolo – whose play is founded on extensive off the ball movement and zonal marking. The Tuscan side welcomes Milan in the knowledge that their last victory against them was in 2005 when they won 2-1. Filippo Inzaghi will look forward to this tie. He has a phenomenal scoring record against the Robur and last season he scored his 300th career goal against them.
Giampaolo has done a commendable job at Siena – who despite being a very small club, is established in the Serie A and will be looking to maintain their place in the division without the need of any great escapes. For the season opener at home against giants Milan the Coach is likely to stick to what he knows with a 4-3-1-2, a team of players who were Bianconeri last season, with any new signings on the bench. Despite suffering a painful foot in the week, former Middlesbrough forward Massimo Maccarone will be leading from the front with veteran Simone Vergassola, who scored against Milan last season, in the middle of the park. In goal the task of keeping the likes of Alexandre Pato and Ronaldinho out will be on the shoulders of young Gianluca Curci – who in his second season with the Robur will be looking to establish himself fully.
77 Ficagna – 13 Rossettini – 15 Brandao – 3 Del Grosso
8 Vergassola – 10 Codrea – 2 Genevier
9 Paolucci – 32 Maccarone
People will be looking at Milan to make their mark in the season opener. Coach Leonardo will be feeling encouraged by his side’s win in the Trofeo Luigi Berlusconi on Monday and will hope to dispense with the excuses he has been filing for a pre-season. He is likely to field Mathieu Flamini as Massimo Ambrosini will have to wait for his debut as full Milan Captain as he recovers from an injury. Centre-back Thiago Silva is almost certain to get his Serie A debut after being with the club since January. Up-front we are likely to see Pato and new comer Klaas-Jan Huntelaar with Ronaldinho behind them. Last season, Abbiati injured his knee against Siena and this weekend the main question mark remains over his replacement – it is likely to be Marco Storari but new face Flavio Roma may still be in with a shout.
15 Zambrotta – 13 Nesta – 33 Thiago Silva – 18 Jankulovski
8 Gattuso – 21 Pirlo – 16 Flamini
7 Pato – 11 Huntelaar
Milan will want to avoid the terrible start they had last year, but the poor form they have shown in pre-season may have made them edgy – and Siena can capitalise on this. Furthermore, the home team will have the backing of their crowd – sure to be in good voice after the summer break, and likely to be in large numbers considering the class of the opposition. But even a shaky Milan is still a quality outfit and at some point during the game this should shine through. Under Leonardo the Rossoneri are still finding their feet and Giampaolo’s side is very much the one which conducted a decent campaign last year, so they are well within their right to chase a point.