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: Both teams looking to respond after defeats
Both sides finished in the top five last season but have been struggling to replicate their form this time around. Milan are positioned 10th in the league table and have lost thrice in their last five outings in all competitions. A Champions League defeat at the hands of Atletico Madrid was followed by a 2-0 win over Sampdoria. But Milan failed to build upon their victory as Juventus subjected them to a 2-0 loss in the subsequent match.
Preview: Milan look to pull off a big upset at the San Siro
AC Milan and Juventus are two of the most historic clubs in Italy. Apart from all of that history, both sides are currently heading in two very different directions.
Juventus are the reigning Serie A champions, and they look destined to win the title again. Antonio Conte’s side has an eight-point lead over AS Roma, but with 13 matches remaining, the visitors will not want to drop points at the San Siro.
Ricardo Montolivo believes that his side has what it takes to embarrass the league leaders, as they did in November of 2012.
Preview: Atleti poised to make the most out of Milan’s misery
The Rossoneri have had a miserable start to their league campaign and are currently placed ninth in the league table, 31 points behind leaders Juventus. With the Serie A title well out of sight, Milan will try to make the most out of their European expeditions this season.
Despite their current form, Milan have proven to be a tough side to break down at the San Siro and even though Atletico have been enjoying a fine campaign they will find it difficult to beat the Italian side at their own backyard.
Diego Simeone’s men have made major strides this season and from being a club which battled for a top four spot in yesteryears, Atletico have turned into title contenders.
Their performances in the Champions League have been even more overwhelming. Atleti were one of the few teams which managed to go past the group stages of the competition unscathed winning five of the six matches they played with the away fixture against Zenit Petersburg resulting in a draw.
Those were the only two points Atletico dropped this season in Europe and the way they have been playing, it will not be a surprise if they do the unthinkable by winning the Champions League while being the underdogs, something Jose Mourinho’s Porto did when they won the competition back in 2004.
Preview: Seedorf looking for a quick response after first league defeat
The Dutch manager suffered his first league defeat last Saturday, when a rampant Napoli side subjected the Rossoneri to a 3-1 defeat. Adel Taarabt gave the visitors a lead at Naples only for Gokhan Inler to level the scores and Gonzalo Higuain sealed the victory for Rafa Benitez’s side with a brace in the second half.
But despite of managing just two victories in his last five games, Milan’s 38 year old tactician seemed to be in a buoyant mood and remained confident that his team would respond against Bologna when the two sides meet on Friday.
Preview: Benitez and co looking to respond after a disappointing week
The Partenopei have lost both of their last two matches and will be hoping for a positive response as they aim on closing down the six point gap between themselves and second placed Roma. Roma got the better of Benitez’s side last time out as they gunned down Gli Azzurri 3-2 courtesy of a late goal from new signing Gervinho.
Napoli are now left with a slender disadvantage as they will hoping to turn around the deficit in their favour in the second leg, but despite the defeat Benitez remained optimistic and spoke of the positives from the match.
Preview: Seedorf looking for third consecutive league victory
The Rossoneri have shown signs of improvement under new manager Clarence Seedorf and two wins in their last two league outings has allowed them to climb to the ninth spot as Milan look to close down the gap on the top four.
The San Siro outfit secured signings of four new players without spending much as of all of Adel Taarabt, Adil Rami, Keisuke Honda and Michael Essien completed their moves to Milan and most of them will be hoping to get involved during Saturday’s encounter against Torino.
Preview: Seedorf looking for second successive win
The Dutch manager begun his managerial career on a winning note and will now be hoping to carry the winning instincts to the second match. In his first match in charge of AC Milan, a club where he spent 10 glorious years as a player, the Rossoneri notched up all three points courtesy of a late penalty by Mario Balotelli.
And even though a 1-0 win would not give the impression of a dominant performance by Seedorf’s side, the Dutchman declared that he was more than satisfied with the effort his players had put.
Preview: Seedorf set for managerial debut at San Siro
Much has been spoken about the former Milan legend’s appointment as the head coach of the San Siro side and even though opinions remain divided the former Real Madrid midfielder has seemed to earn the confidence of Vice President Adriano Galliani among others, who has hailed Seedorf as being the right man for the job.
"My feelings are only positive," he said.
"I can sense that Clarence is really motivated. If he can do as a coach what he did as a player, then we will be very, very happy. Seedorf is going to provide the spark to ignite this squad.”
For most managers beginnings are humble. They either start in the lower divisions, working their way to the top after gaining enough experience or manage clubs not having lofty ambitions. Then there are managers whose first managerial job is to take reins of a club that is one of the most successful ones in Europe but is in decline. Such is the plight of former Netherlands international Clarence Seedorf. The Dutchman made a big name for himself during his time at Milan, winning two Champions League crowns with the San Siro giants apart from other accolades.
It was a bit surprising to see the player announce his retirement as a player and then being given a very tough managerial job without ever being part of a coaching staff at any level. The Dutchman arrives at a turbulent period for Milan.
Preview: Milan kick start life without Allegri
The Italian tactician was relieved of his duties after weeks of speculation. The 4-3 loss at the hands of 17th placed Sassuolo sealed the 46 year olds fate who within 24 hours of the defeat was sacked. Mauro Tassotti is expected to take charge of Milan for his first and last match, as the appointment of former Milan player Clarence Seedorf as head coach of the Rossoneri seems imminent.
The Dutchman who spent 10 years at AC Milan announced retirement from his playing career upon Milan’s interest in appointing him as their new manager. In a statement the former Botafogo midfielder revealed:
Preview: The Rossoneri should have the upper hand against a struggling Sassuolo
AC Milan's campaign has not gone according to plan, which has left some Milan officials and their fans asking for change. Galliani was nearly one of those changes, but now it appears that Allegri will leave the club after the current season.
But until then, the Milan manager will try to get his side closer to the top. The Rossoneri are 11th in the Serie A table, with only 22 points in 18 matches. They are closer to the relegation zone, than they are to the top of the table, which is something AC Milan is not used to dealing with.
On 27 October, Rossoneri coach Massimiliano Allegri announced that Milan had come to an agreement to sign playmaker Keisuke Honda on a Bosman from Russian outfit CSKA Moscow. The deal was made official on 4 January when the Japanese international arrived much to the excitement of many of his compatriots who had made the journey to welcome him to the Italian fashion capital.
Nicknamed the “Prince of Osaka” by his new club in their promotional materials, he has now been given the no. 10 jersey which had become vacant following the sale of Kevin-Prince Boateng to Schalke this past summer.
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.
Raja Casablanca, the shock finalists of the Club World Cup, squared off against Bayern Munich at Stade de Marrakech yesterday. The game took place ahead of the Derby della Madonnina on Sunday and the reason why the final is being discussed is that just a few years back, Inter overcame another African giant in TP Mazembe to lift this unique trophy. That trophy was the last time Internazionale lifted something of any significance as Rafa Benitez was sacked soon afterwards (apart from the Coppa Italia in the same season).
At that time, Inter were eight points off league leaders Milan. Though Inter narrowed down the gap to just two points before the Derby in April, Milan won the game 3-0 and went on to claim the Scudetto.
“We certainly could’ve drawn worse,” AC Milan club director Umberto Gandini mused after learning that his side had been paired off with La Liga’s Atletico Madrid in the round of 16. The Rossoneri, who had finished second in their group could have faced off against the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, PSG, Manchester United, or Chelsea as their opponents.
So, in light of the terrorizing prospect of dealing with last year’s Champions League winners or a Los Blancos spearheaded by the rampaging Cristiano Ronaldo, who set a new tournament record with nine strikes in just five appearances, then, yes, one could say, theoretically that the “other” Madrid club isn’t the “worst” draw they could’ve gotten.
Preview: AS Roma tries to stay in pursuit of Juve, while AC Milan seeks their fifth victory
We are already 15 matches into the Serie A campaign, and AC Milan only has four victories to their name. It is not often that the Rossoneri struggle this bad, but things do not look to get much easier with AS Roma coming to town.
On the day that Allegri's side found out they will take on Atletico Madrid in the Champions League Knockout Stage, they will have to focus on Totti & co., who have yet to lose in the current domestic campaign.
On Monday, AS Roma take on Serie A strugglers AC Milan in a league encounter which the capital club would be looking to use as a further proof of their Scudetto credentials, something that the club’s fans have not witnessed in a long time.
After four draws on a trot which followed an incredible start to the season which saw Roma win all of their opening ten matches in the league, the Lupi once again returned to winning ways thanks to a 2-1 win over Fiorentina last week. The win was very important for Rudi Garcia’s side as they got their title chase back on track.
Preview: Milan and Ajax battle for qualification to Round of 16
The clash at San Siro will decide which of the two teams will join Barcelona from Group H to advance to the knockout stage of the Champions League. Whereas a draw will be sufficient for the Rossoneri to advance to the next round, Ajax will need all three points.
An unlikely win for Celtic over Barcelona can also see Milan claim the top spot in Group H and thereby allow themselves to be paired against an easier opposition in the Round of 16.