Just like last season, the situation at AC Milan has gotten dire early on in the campaign.
Massimiliano Allegri's side has picked up only eight points in seven rounds of action, putting them in an anonymous midtable position in Serie A.
They face an always tricky Udinese side on Saturday, and will look to finally capture three points at home. The major talking point before this game didn't have so much to do with the players available, it had more to do with the stadium ban that was recently suspended.
The Rossoneri would have played this game behind closed doors, but the decision has been made to suspend the ban pending further investigation after Milan fans got in trouble for indecent comments toward Neapolitans.
With the San Siro now able to welcome its rabid fans, let's take a look at how the team will line up for this pivotal Serie A fixture:
The biggest worry with the team is now in the center of defense. Philippe Mexes was handed a four-match ban for punching Giorgio Chiellini in the last round. Milan are now left with Cristian Zapata, Cristian Zaccardo and Daniele Bonera as the only able central defenders.
Expect Kevin Constant and Ignazio Abate to operate in the wide positions and round off the back four. Constant has been interchangeable with Urby Emanuelson all season in that left-back role, and it seems that coach Allegri still has no idea who his preferred option is.
In the midfield, expect Milan to field a defensive unit, with Sulley Muntari and Andrea Poli doing the running. Riccardo Montolivo should once again take up the trequartista position, where he can link midfield with attack.
The other midfield spot is up for grabs, with La Gazzetta dello Sport saying it will be Urby Emanuelson, while Corriere is convinced that it could very well be newcomer Riccardo Saponara.
Saponara is the one to watch out for in this game. The youngster was purchased in the January transfer window from Empoli, but was kept on loan in the second division until he joined Milan this past summer.
He has shades of Kaka and can play as a winger or behind the strikers. Saponara is at his best when he's running full speed with the ball at his feet, with his long strides making it seem as if he's effortlessly gliding past defenders.
Even if Saponara doesn't start, he'll be on the bench against Udinese.
Finally, the two main strikers will most likely be Mario Balotelli and Robinho. Alessandro Matri has been woeful since his arrival from Juventus, and will take up a much deserved seat on the bench. Kaká is expected to be in the squad as well, but won't start from the first minute.
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