AC Milan vs. Liverpool: How the Rossoneri Will Line Up

Anthony LopopoloFeatured ColumnistJuly 31, 2014

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Mario Balotelli did not start the past two games in the International Champions Cup, and he may sit out again in Charlotte, North Carolina, when AC Milan play Liverpool on Saturday.

The mainstay in attack is Stephan El Shaarawy. His brother told (h/t Football Italia) that there is a "special relationship" between the 21-year-old and Filippo Inzaghi, "a coach who listens to players." And it shows.

El Shaarawy has played the majority of the minutes in the North American tour, and he has the most to gain from matches like this. He only featured in seven competitive games all last season, and while the rest of the players look slow and off, it is El Shaarawy who has run, chased, tracked back and put in some real effort. 

But it is still a friendly, and Inzaghi has another chance to try out his 4-3-3 formation. Milan will have their problems in midfield against Liverpool, a team that can break on the counter, play tight passes and score quick goals.

Bryan Cristante could start from the beginning with Andrea Poli, but the speed of these players is questionable. Still, Cristante needs all the time he can get after sitting out and watching the first team for the majority of last year. He deserves the chance.

In defence, the experiment is still bubbling. Adil Rami and Alex have not played a full game together yet, but neither defender has impressed.

Both appear slow on foot, both hesitating on plays as Manchester City and Olympiakos strung together passes in or around the 18-yard box. They should make up the starting tandem in the centre of defence by the start of the Serie A season, but there is still Philippe Mexes, who is probably playing for a contract extension.

Mexes: "I'm happy at Milan. I haven't talked about anything with anyone, but I would like to renew my contract (expires next year)."

— AC Milan News (@Milanello) July 30, 2014

Milan host Lazio on August 31 to kick off the Serie A season, and Inzaghi should begin to give his starters some minutes. Keisuke Honda has to play, and so does Balotelli. If these are the main men of the upcoming season, there is no holding back.

They will finish up this tour against Liverpool, as they are already eliminated from the final in Miami, and head back to Italy, perhaps with more questions than answers.