So who is going to stand up and stop Milan? It’s Chievo’s turn this weekend as they prepare for the daunting visit of the superlative Rosseneri.
Milan have been firing on all cylinders so far this season, and top Serie A, as well as Group G of the ChampionsLeague, where they have won all four of their games. This includes a double over Bayern Munich, which was completed on Wednesday when Milan beat the Germans 2-1 at the San Siro.
They weren’t always convincing during the win, but Milan have got in a very good habit of winning games. They have been praised of their exciting, attacking play this season, but Wednesday showed they can dig in and fight if the need be too.
“It was a difficult game for us, and it wasn’t our best day,” admitted coach Carlo Ancelotti after the game. But Milan have qualified for the next stage with two games to spare, allowing them to rest key players, and ominously for the rest of their Serie A title rivals, can now “concentrate on Serie A for the next month,” as Ancelotti put it.
With the visitors in such fantastic form, it’s hard to see Chievo causing them many problems. After the excitement of last season’s top-flight arrival, they have struggled this year and are currently 12th. But one man who will be trying extra hard on their behalf is bustling ex Milan forward Oliver Bierhoff. Bierhoff won a Scudetto with Milan, but has failed to get on the scoresheet for Chievo since the opening day of the season.
The Verona-based club have only won once in six, and were knocked out of the UEFA Cup at the first hurdle. But Chievo boss Luigi Del Neri remains defiant.
“There is no fear on our part but only a lot of respect,” he said. He also addressed the need to recreate some of last season’s Serie A form.
“We need to be ourselves in the game and try to be even better and stronger than when we faced them last term. At the end of the day we need to play like Chievo.”
Chievo are injury free bar Luciano and De Franceschi, and Milan could be unchanged from Wednesday, despite the return from injuries of Rivaldo and Shevchenko. The only potential changes may be Jon Dahl Tomasson for Serginho, and Gattuso for Ambrosini.
: Lupatelli, Moro, Legrottaglie, D’Anna, Lanna, Della Morte, Perrotta, Corini, Franceschini, Bierhoff, Marazzina
Milan: Dida, Simic, Nesta, Maldini, Kaladze, Ambrosini/Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf, Rui Costa, Serginho/Tomasson, Inzaghi.
The main talking point of the weekend comes from Turin, where struggling Torino have sacked coach Giancarlo Camolese. Former idol and now youth team coach Renato Zaccarelli has been appointed caretaker manager for Sundays’ game against Reggina.
Torino recorded their first win of the campaign against Chievo last week, and many thought Camolese had bought himself some breathing space. However a midweek defeat in the Coppa Italia to Empoli proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, and he was shown the door.
Reggina and Torino are both inside the relegation zone already, and both are in desperate needof some points and some form.
Meanwhile, second place Inter are at home to Bologna, and Juve take on relegation candidates Udinese. Oh, and there’s also the small matter of the Rome derby….
Juventus v Udinese
Inter v Bologna
Parma v Atlanta
Piacenza v Empoli