AC Milan vs. Parma: Preview, Team News, Projected Rossoneri Starting XI

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AC Milan vs. Parma: Preview, Team News, Projected Rossoneri Starting XI
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

The week before the Derby della Madonnina and a season-defining UEFA Champions League tie against Barcelona, AC Milan will host Parma at the San Siro in Serie A's first game of Matchday 25.

 

 

Preview

Massimiliano Allegri's Rossoneri are unbeaten in their last six league games, whereas Parma have failed to win their previous five Serie A matches. 

Easy Milan win, right? 

The Gialloblù are Italy's equivalent of Real Sociedad—they get results when they're expected to lay down and stay down. 

Parma had only picked up two points from their last three games going into the match against Inter Milan, who were probably thinking they weren't going to lose to a team in worse form than them (the Nerazzurri were in a mini-crisis at the time).

But then: "Sansone breaks the deadlock! Parma one, Inter nil."

Do you know how many points separated Parma and Juventus in last month's fixture? 15 points.

Meanwhile, Roberto Donadoni's men weren't expected to get any points as faced the results machine that is Juve. 

Nicola Sansone came off the bench to score the equaliser, as the Bianconeri were held to a 1-1 draw. Even though it wasn't a win, it was a moral victory for Donadoni. 

This is a potential banana peel for Allegri's side, who are focusing their attention on the UCL fixture versus Barça and, of course, the Milan derby. 

M’Baye Niang didn't say his first goal will be against Parma—he said it would come against Inter (from Corriere dello Sera via Forza Italian Football). 

 

Team News

 

Photo via gazzetta.it/Calcio/

 

 

 

 

 

Projected Starting XIs

(Per Corriere dello Sport):

AC Milan (4-3-3): Christian Abbiati; Mattia De Sciglio, Cristián Zapata, Cristian Zaccardo, Kévin Constant; Antonio Nocerino, Riccardo Montolivo, Bakaye Traoré; Bojan Krkić, Mario Balotelli, M'Baye Niang.

Parma (4-3-3): Nicola Pavarini; Aleandro Rosi, Gabriel Paletta, Alessandro Lucarelli, Djamel Mesbah; Marco Marchionni, Jaime Valdés, Marco Parolo; Jonathan Biabiany, Ishak Belfodil, Nicola Sansone.

 

Five Players To Watch

Mario Balotelli, AC Milan, CF, Age: 22

An entertainer on and off the field. Mario will be looking to score in his third successive Serie A game. 

Jaime Valdés, Parma, CM, Age: 32

The Chilean veteran is the engine room of Donadoni's midfield. Valdés is a strong tackler, but so many times, he is lulled into low percentage contests—hence why he is an easy target for referees. 

Mattia De Sciglio, AC Milan, RB/LB, Age: 20

Destined for greatness. De Sciglio is proficient as a left-back but elite at right-back.

Then again, Paolo Maldini fell into playing LB (via The Telegraph): "But I always played on the right until Milan needed a player on the left. It was not my choice."

Take some time to read Matteo Bonetti's excellent piece on Mattia. 

Nicola Sansone, Parma, LF, Age: 21

He is a competitive fighter with good poaching instincts. Sansone scored the winner against Inter and has come off the bench to net goals against Torino and Juventus. On paper, he is a left forward, but he drifts in centrally. 

Sansone could be a 10-15 goals per season forward if he was given the No. 9 role. 

Ishak Belfodil, Parma, CF, Age: 21

(Per B/R):

You can't miss Ishak Belfodil on the football field because he is ginormous. 
His career has been a dogfight so far.

He was cut from Clairefontaine at the last hurdle, didn't enjoy his time at Paris Saint-Germain, was a spectator at Lyon and started all but one of his league games at Bologna on the bench. 

There must have been nights where he would stare at the ceiling wondering if he was going to make it.

Parma gambled and signed Belfodil for €2.5 million, which seemed excessive at the time since he hadn't done anything. 

Supposedly, he's heavier than Christian Benteke, but there's no doubting Ishak's strength. 

To illustrate how strong Belfodil is, in a 4-1 win over Cagliari, he backs into Lorenzo Ariaudo like a basketballer setting up a post-up move. 

Ariaudo is pushing, shoving and jabbing Ishak in the back like a madman (how the referee doesn't call a foul is beyond me).

Belfodil proceeds to swivel past Ariaudo, who is yanking Ishak's arm, but Parma's No. 9 still calmly slots the ball in the bottom right corner. 

Belfodil isn't just a target man, he is quite good with the ball at his feet and loves to back into defenders, turn them inside-out to set up a shot. 

What will the outcome be?

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