Preview: The Biancocelesti will be going for all three points against a Rossoneri side devoid of confidence
Seven days. That is reportedly the amount of time new coach Clarence Seedorf has to salvage his already difficult career with his former side. After a seemingly bright start, he retired midfielder has lost seven out of his dozen games so far in charge--including both legs of the Champions League and four out of nine in Serie A.
Of course, Seedorf continues to remain defiant, stating in his press conference that he is "not responsible for everything that he has inherited...but I take responsibility for what has happened over the past few games."
Stating that the 2013-2014 season is a rough time to be a Milan supporter would be merely an understatement.
After last season’s miraculous turnaround that saw the Rossoneri move from flirting to relegation to qualifying for the Champions League, fans could not be blamed for, well, thinking that the roller coaster ride had finally stopped and smoother sailing was on the horizon.
After Massimiliano Allegri’s dismissal following the Diavolo’s embarrassing 4-3 reversal to Serie A newbies Sassuolo, in came ex-midfielder Clarence Seedorf in a decision that had many observers scratching their heads. After all, the former Dutch international had zero managerial experience and was just coming off a stint wrapping up his storied career at Brazilian side Botafogo.
Preview: Parma look to consolidate European football at expense of ragged and wounded Milan
What a difference a season can make.
Last year, Parma finished the league campaign in 10th place, all in all, a good showing for a club of its size with 49 points. Milan, on the other hand, completed their topsy-turvy season in third, with their 70 points just enough to earn Champions League football at the expense of Fiorentina.
Preview: Los Rojiblancos host the Rossoneri in a make or break clash for both sides
It will be a tale of two polar opposites when Atletico Madrid host AC Milan on Tuesday evening in the second leg of their Champions League tie. The Rojiblancos have gone from strength to strength so far this season in both domestic and continental campaigns.
They have been keeping pace with the powerhouses of Barcelona and Real Madrid so far, much to many observers' surprise and transformed the title race into a much more exciting one this year. And in Europe, they comfortably finished top of their group with 16 points, joint-tied with city rivals Real for the most in the group stages and outscored their opponents by 15 to 3.
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.”