Preview: Inconsistencies and bad defending have hurt both Milan sides
Both AC Milan and Inter Milan are two clubs who have enjoyed success over the years, but this season in Serie A, neither has been all that impressive.
Inter comes into Sunday's derby having conceded four goals against Napoli in their latest defeat. From their last three matches, the Nerazzuri have conceded nine, which currently has them fifth in the table, with 28 points from 16 matches.
They have not won a Serie A match since November 9th, when they defeated Livorno 2-0 at home.
Zero. That is the number of games that AC Milan have won on the road all season—both in domestic and continental competition. Sure, they’ve, oftentimes been fortunate to escape with a draw—their Champions League tie with Ajax and Serie A clash with Torino come to mind, but the Rossoneri have yet to secure all three points away from the San Siro.
And as if their 11th place standing wasn't bad enough, one should note that they’re currently on 12 points, which is just three above nine. That's the exact number of points that 18th-placed and relegation candidates Sassuolo have earned so far this season.
Preview: Mario Balotelli is the latest headache for the Rossoneri
While Balotelli may be a constant headache for the Milan management, due to his on and off the pitch antics, he handed the Italian outfit another setback.
Super Mario's injury will definitely be a big loss, given how many times he has come to the rescue for Allegri's side. Who will now step up and score goals for Milan in his absence? Could the pressure fall on the shoulders of one Alessandro Matri?
The former Juve forward will need to guide his new club past Udinese, who is eighth in the Serie A table, four spots and two points ahead of Milan.
Preview: Injuries and Balotelli's suspension would cause more frustration for Milan
Going into their home match against Napoli, the AC Milan players were fairly confident that they could overcome the odds. Now that the dust has settled from that match, Allegri's side may have had chances, but they were unable to capitalize, leaving them with a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Rafa Benitez's squad.
Adding to their defeat is the suspension of Mario Balotelli, who was shown a red card after the final whistle.
The Italian international not only will be missing in action for three matches, but he also missed his first penalty kick against Napoli. With Milan's already long list of absent players due to injury, Super Mario's suspension will have frustrated the Rossoneri manager.
Preview: AC Milan's list of injuries could play a part in this match
Although battered with injuries, AC Milan managed to come out of their mid-week match against Celtic with the full three points. A goal from Sulley Muntari and an own goal from Celtic's Izaguirre got the Italians off to a positive start, but they will face a tougher test on Sunday against Napoli.
Allegri's side have had to battle for every point due to key absences, and on Sunday they will have to do the same.
With Matias Silvestre, Kaka, Pazzini, Bonera, De Sciglio, El Shaarawy and Montolivo missing, the Rossoneri will have to once again dig deep if they want to knock off the current Serie A leaders. Apart from all the bad news, Allegri will likely welcome back Abate, Niang and Saponara from injury.
Since quitting Brazil at the Confederations Cup due to injury, the former Manchester City troublemaker has not had the opportunity to hit the headlines for his prowess on the pitch. The 23-year-old was forced to miss his side’s pre-season tour in the United States earlier this summer, and was also absent from Italy’s international friendly match against Argentina on August 14.
At first, there were doubts that he would not be able to face PSV Eindhoven but Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri reassured fans when he declared on Monday:
“Mario is feeling good. He is an extraordinary player. It will be an important test for him playing in his first Champions League game with us.
“He won’t be in top condition, but he has some extraordinary qualities.”
Preview: Old rivalry will take center stage, with two key figures missing out
Italy and Argentina used to be a big rivalry, but considering they have not locked horns in over a decade, that flame may have burned out. Their last meeting came in a friendly in 1991 when the Albiceleste defeated Italy 2-1. Having been eliminated by Argentina a year earlier at the 1990 World Cup, the Azzurri can now try to seek revenge.
Much to the disappointment of the spectators, Lionel Messi and Mario Balotelli will likely miss this match. Missing these two in a match like this was like missing Maradona, but regardless of their absence, this match should be one of the more interesting matches to be played on Wednesday.
Preview: Mario Balotelli will miss out as AC Milan take on his former club
Never knowing what to expect from AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli is what makes matches like these interesting to watch. Getting a chance to go up against his former employer would likely spark additional motivation into the Italian, but it appears that he will miss out on this match due to his participation in the Confederations Cup.
His former club will arrive at the Allianz Arena fresh off a title in Asia, where Manuel Pellegrini's side had to endure some poor field conditions, defeating South China and English Premier League side Sunderland.
Preview – Daunting task for the Azzurri without Balotelli
When the referee’s whistle will go up to kick off proceedings at the Estádio Castelão in Fortaleza, soccer fans will be 90 or 120 minutes away from knowing if that dream Confederations Cup 2013 final will indeed take place. Many want to see hosts Brazil clash against world champions Spain in Rio on Sunday. However, the Azzuri of Italy have other ideas. They are plotting for an upset to happen on Thursday.
Cesare Prandelli’s mission is as tough as it seems. The Italian manager has lost his star player, Mario Balotelli. In the Milan striker’s absence, pundits have been wondering where the Euro 2012 runners-up will get their goals from.
Revenge is on the mind of the Italians after that humiliating 4-0 loss to current European Champions Spain last summer. At the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, Italy have proven to be passionate in every area of the pitch but their defence needs serious corrections. They have allowed eight goals in their net already. How does this compare to the Spaniards who only conceded on Matchday 1 as a certain Luis Suarez beat Iker Casillas from a free-kick?
La Furia Roja will be looking to impose its possession style of play but the Azzurri will want to overcome the misery of opening holes at the back and suffer a hammering. On Wednesday, the South American affair between Brazil and Uruguay produced a very tight outcome. What kind of show will football viewers be treated to on June 27?
Where to watch the match live – Start time, live stream, TV channels
ESPN and Sportsnet are not the only sports networks via which Spain vs Italy will air live in North America. Univision has added itself to the coverage of this intriguing Last 4 encounter. Below are full TV info details for viewers in Canada, UK and USA.
Watch Spain vs Italy live:
Preview – Neymar and Balotelli mark the hype
When Neymar plays, world football fans – critics and admirers alike – stop to watch him in action. The 21-year-old Brazilian’s move from Santos to Barcelona has widely increased the attention of European soccer fans.
This Saturday, Neymar will come head-to-head with Italy’s darling player – Mario Balotelli. The ‘King Kong’ striker has already scored three goals at the Confederations Cup 2013. He is a strike above Brazil’s number 10 star in the tournament’s goalscorers chart.
The matchup between the Azzurri and the Samba Boys will not mean much as far as both teams have already qualified out of Group A. However, claiming the top spot in the table and building more momentum in the process is an honour they want to achieve.
Brazil are fresh from sending Mexico home thanks to the ‘Neymar Show’. Meanwhile, Italy are beaming with confidence following a high-octane 4-3 victory against Japan on Matchday 2. Brazil vs Italy could as well be the fixture of the Confederations Cup 2013 final – depending on how things go in the semi-finals.
Where to watch the match live – Start time, live stream, TV channels
For now, spectators around the globe can enjoy this group stage fixture which has moved from ESPNEWS to ESPN in the United States. Below is information restricted to viewers in Canada, UK and USA.
Watch Italy vs Brazil live:
Italy will be hoping to beat the Selecao for the first time in over 30 years. With both sides having already sealed a place in the last four of the competition, Cesare Prandelli would be looking to see his side do well against the hosts whose performances have been nothing short of spectacular so far in the tournament.
In their first game, Italy quite professionally dispatched a rather uninspired Mexican side 2-0 before beating reigning Asian champions Japan 4-3 in one of the most thrilling encounters of the tournament.
However, Prandelli would be hoping for his defenders to be at the top of their game against a Brazilian attack that is quite lethal and is built to score goals.
Mexico and Italy enter the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup having failed to win any of their last two matches respectively. However, the Azzurri might feel less disadvantaged than El Tri in terms of confidence.
Drawing 2-2 against minnows Haiti on Tuesday was not the best result to clinch but manager Cesare Prandelli is not too bothered; his side have been able to step up their performance when it matters most as friendly encounters are widely used to experiment with other options. Besides, Prandelli was certain the stalemate against Haiti was due to jet lag problems.
“We knew that was a risk. But I'm not worried,” the Italian told the press on Wednesday.
“We have (five) days to work on our physical condition. And we also need to find more motivation. I know it was a long club season but we need to produce something special here.”
He was one of Italy’s outstanding players in Euro 2012. Yet, his public image dominated the headlines, overtaking the power of his talents. Focus or rather media glare is on his personal life. His press interviews are highly entertaining while his antics are eye catching.
Nonetheless, under Cesare Prandelli, Balotelli’s best has come out on the pitch. If he produces his best in the Confederations Cup, Italy definitely has a chance to spring a surprise victory.
A ‘bite’ in the heat of the moment in the Premier League saw the Liverpool forward receive a ten match ban. Suarez however did not lose a step; on his return to the pitch with his national side Uruguay, the forward scored and put in a good shift.
Things did not look too good for Italy on Thursday as they trailed Brazil, but two strikes from Mario Balotelli and Daniele De Rossi in a matter of minutes leveled the Azzurri. Their match on Tuesday may not turn out to be as difficult as their last, but Malta will certainly not hand the Italians the three points.
The National Stadium in Malta is expecting 17,000 fans to pack the stands, giving the home side a boost of confidence. Winless in all their meetings against Italy, Malta has only managed to score one goal against the Italians, while conceding 15.
Italy's Cesare Prandelli will welcome back Claudio Marchisio after the midfielder was sidelined against Brazil due to the flu. That may or may not force AC Milan's Ricardo Montolivo to the bench, but either way, the Italian's will have a good option with either one.