Following a painful defeat at the hands of Real Madrid in Tuesday night's UEFA Champions League clash, AC Milan return to Italy with an away match against an always challenging Napoli side on Monday night.
The game has been moved to Monday instead of the normal Saturday and Sunday, as Napoli played host to Liverpool on Thursday in the UEFA Europa League at the San Paolo. The match ended 0-0.
This is an important match for both clubs. AC Milan look to get back on track and move to 17 points while Napoli are on 12 points, two behind AC Milan and Inter Milan. Lazio top the Serie A with 16 and play Sunday against Cagliari, who sit just above the drop zone.
Milan have learned that names alone will not win matches. Despite having the likes of Ronaldinho, Pato, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Andrea Pirlo, and Robinho, Milan have struggled through matches and were finally caught out by an incredible Real Madrid team.
Manager Massimiliano Allegri has apparently seen the light and is expected to make some major changes for the big game Monday night. Milan have in all honesty been lucky this season to have not dropped more points than they have and to be in second with the four-time reigning winners of Serie A, Inter.
Now, however, Milan face a difficult road against the best Italy has to offer. In their first seven matches, Milan have only played three teams currently in the top half of the table. In these matches, they have only earned five of a possible nine points.
Monday begins a long journey. Following Napoli, Milan will close October with a Saturday contest against Juventus. November only gets tougher. After a match with Bari, the Rossoneri take on Palermo at home, four days before the first Milan Derby of the season, which Inter have home advantage for. Fiorentina follow and are sitting just outside the top 10. November ends with a trip to Genoa to play Sampdoria.
To close 2010, Milan face tough tests with Brescia, Bologna and Roma. Of these, only Brescia is in the top half. Bologna is in the relegation zone.
Of course, in this time, Milan will also play Real Madrid, Ajax and Auxerre in the Champions League.
The objective has to be to take this match by match, but Allegri has to make some big changes and try new ideas if Milan are to be successful.
The changes need to start Monday. In this slide show, as in the past, I will break down what I feel the Rossoneri squad should look like, as well as highlight players that Allegri should have on the bench.