AC Milan and Parma meet at the Stadio Ennio Tardini in a crucial match on Saturday. The Rossoneri sit at second place but rivals Juventus and Atalanta are slowly creeping up behind them. Anything less than three points will be a literal and moral defeat for Milan.
AC Milan and Parma Facing Crucial Fixture
AC Milan Form
The turn of the calendar year has not been kind to Milan. They have already lost four crucial matches to Juventus, Inter Milan, Atalanta, and Napoli. Inter are above and beyond the rest of the pack in Serie A this season, but the other three are Milan’s competitors for Champions League spots. The Rossoneri have also gained only two points in two winnable matches versus Sampdoria and Udinese.
Simply put, Milan need to step up. Their last match against Sampdoria was a flat-out embarrassment. The Claudio Rainieri-led Sampdoria team is solid, but Milan looked uninterested for most of the match. This is surprising, considering the squad has an attainable path for Champions League qualification for the first time since the 2013/14 season.
Positive Reinforcements for Milan
First and foremost, Ismael Bennacer is back and healthy. After a couple of weeks with full training, this match should be Bennacer’s break-out party again. The midfield double-pivot of himself and Franck Kessie carries Milan, so Bennacer is welcomed back with open arms.
Three bench reinforcements, all in the attack, will also be return. This includes Mario Mandzukic, Rafael Leão, and Brahim Diaz. Leão is always a nice sparkplug off the bench, whereas Diaz can come in if Hakan Calhanoglu is struggling (like he has recently). The biggest news, however, is the return of Mandzukic. He’s played just over 140 minutes for the club since joining in January, due in large part to injury. The tenacious Croatian is exactly who Milan will use when in need of a goal. He also adds veteran leadership on the pitch alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The Rossoneri, however, are without starting defenders Alessio Romagnoli and Davide Calabria. Romagnoli, being the captain, is a tough loss, but Fikayo Tomori will replace him. A real case can be made that Tomori has been better than Romagnoli since joining the club. Calabria is often overlooked, but easily Milan’s best right-back and an important part of the squad. Diogo Dalot will likely suit up in his place, but the Portuguese international remains inconsistent.
Milan should emerge with a win. Their form has been shaky, but Parma are 19th in Serie A. Besides, the club knows they absolutely must win this match.