Parma v AC Milan, Serie A, March 24, 2010
AC Milan will still be kicking themselves that they aren’t top of Serie A when Wednesday night’s match kicks-off.
Last Sunday Milan had the opportunity to leapfrog neighbours Inter. WithÂ the NerazzurriÂ having drawn 1-1 away to Palermo on Saturday evening, Milan found themselves just two points behind and presented with the opportunity to take sole possession of top spot for the first time in 504 days when they took the field with Napoli.
Taking top spot would have hugely hugely significant. Inter have lead the race for the Scudetto since 27 September 2009, but in reality their stranglehold on Serie A has been held for far longer, as, not since 2006, before Calciopoli, have Inter been anything other than first in the second half of any of the past four seasons.
But then tragedy struck the Rossoneri as, despite dominating their match with Napoli, the visitors refused to play ball in a 1-all stalemate. And Milan were left to curse an injured, ailing squad as their dreams of an unlikely championship receded.
Milan’s shaky defence has been further reduced by injuries, with Alessandro Nesta undergoing surgery on his damaged knee tendon, Daniele Bonera struggling with a muscular problem, while neither full-backs Ignazio Abate or Luca Antonini were deemed fit enough to start against Napoli. Last weekend those problems forced Leonardo into including Massimo Oddo at right-back and the horror-show Giuseppe Favalli in the centre.
Milan also have problems up front too, with Alexandre Pato lasting just 14 minutes at the wekend before he pulled up with a recurrence of his recent thigh injury. With Pato missing, Milan will hope to recall Marco Borriello after the forward came down with a fever last week, while the evergreen Pippo Inzaghi could yet be employed again to lead the line in the absence of any other options.
On a brighter note, Milan have no problems in the middle of the park with Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf and the excellent Ronaldinho to pull all the strings.
While Milan still have plenty to play for this season, the same can’t be said for Parma. Sitting comfortably in 12, with little danger of being sucked into the relegation scrap and even less hope of battling it out for a European berth, the Ducali could hardly be blamed if they wanted the season to be over already.
It has been an up-and-down season for Parma. They started in sensational form in the first half of the season, but their start to 2010 was rocky as they experienced a dry run of seven defeats and two draws from the turn of the year through to the end of February. Parma then recovered, and since they have won two andÂ drawn two of their last four matches.
Looking at their squad, Hernan Crespo has started Parma’s last four matches and, although the former Chelsea man has yet to open his record since his return to Parma, the Argentine will likely start up-front alongside youngster Davide Lanzafame.
Parma could also draft Jonathan Biabiany into their attack. The 21-year-old striker has scored four goals and given one assist in Serie A this campaign and appears to be one of the brighter stars coming through the Parma ranks at present.
Further back in midfield, all eyes will be on 24-year-old Daniele Galloppa. Galloppa had been in sensational form in the first half of the season but hisÂ displays dipped slightly during Parma’s early 2010 slump. The puppeteer of the team, Parma will be looking to the recent Italian international to perform against Milan.
101gg predicts: Parma 1 – AC Milan 2 (7.27)