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Milan-Catania Preview: Parade of Elephants

Everyone loves a parade, or so they say. But with gli Elefanti coming to town on Sunday, I’m not sure Milan are quite ready to enjoy raining on their parade  of elephants with all of this week’s distractions. The Catania squad are currently in an impressive 6th place on the table, and I’m sure they would be happy to take advantage of Milan’s distractions. Whereas even if Milan are 4th on the table, the distractions of traveling midweek for Champions League and more importantly Cassano’s heart surgery this morning are sure to be weighing heavily on their minds and bodies.


Cassano siamo con te - Cassano we are with you

At least the news of the successful surgery has got to be a positive boost for the squad. It will be a lot easier to focus knowing Cassano is already on the mend. However, there is a lot more than just mental distractions to overcome on Sunday. In addition to the long term injuries of Flamini, Gattuso, Pato, and now Cassano, we are also missing Mexes and apparently Nesta to injury. Additionally, Nocerino is suspended for card accumulation, and Kevin Prince Boateng will be serving his first of a two match suspension for his red card at Roma last week. So it will be up to everyone else to fill the gaps both emotionally and mentally.

Normally, when you looked and saw Catania coming to the San Siro, you would think we could afford to be missing a few players. But not this season. Vincenzo Montella has the elephants playing very well. How well, you ask? Well, they took down the mighty Napoli last week, even if Napoli played on 10 men for more than half of the match. Their other two wins were against Inter and Cesena, all three wins at home. But they have only lost one match, to Genoa, away. The other 5 matches were all draws, including draws to league leaders Juve, the strong Lazio, as well as Fiorentina. So they are certainly strong and stubborn like elephants, and could easily try to split the points with us on Sunday.

Montella, who was the caretaker coach at Roma and discarded for the flashy but flat Luis Enrique this season, has done a terrific job with the Sicilian side. With 3 goals from Bergessio, two from Maxi Lopez, and others on the scoreboard as well, he’s also got several players each with an assist, which shows that Catania is spelled with TEAM (okay, maybe not on paper, but in their hearts.) He is also able to give Legrottaglie something that Milan were unable to: regular playing time. And I suspect that on Sunday, Milan will get a chance to see what we missed out on in that regard.

He looked so much better in the red and black, but still better this than a missionary

Montella apparently plays a 4-3-3 formation. Against Napoli, he started Andujar, Legrottaglie, Spolli, Bellusci, Marchese, Izco, Lodi, Ricchiuti, Almiron, Gomez, Catellani, and Bergessio. But he could easily pull players like Lanzafame, Delvecchio, and Maxi Lopez in for fresh legs, too. He has plenty of options and nothing to lose, as the highest Catania have ever finished a season was 8th place on the table, and they are currently in 6th. But if they could draw Juve and Lazio and beat Napoli, a win or even a draw vs. Milan would certainly solidify their reputation as giant killers, and go a long way at helping them stay in the top half of the table.

Milan, on the other hand, come into this match on a 4 game winning streak in the league, even if they were humbled by a surprisingly good BATE side midweek in the Champions League. Due to our poor start, we need to keep up this winning streak to continue to climb the table, and will need some help from the 3 teams in front of us dropping points if we are to climb higher than our 4th place standing we are currently in. And we owe it to Cassano to pick up where he left off.

A lot of people say that we are down to Ibra, El Shaarawy, and Robinho up front, but there is someone who has been missing from my life and from the pitch for way too long: Super Pippo. If ever we needed a superhero like we do no, it is him. And in a recent interview, Allegri confessed that he is finally fit, so I would LOVE to see him and Ibra up front. I have not lost faith in Inzaghi, and I definitely think that if there is anyone who can fill the huge void that Cassano’s heart has left, it is Super Pippo.

Yes, boys, you deserve a round of applause, now let's go earn some more...

We also have van Bommel and Antonini fit again, so I would expect at least the former to get some time, as well as the recently recovered Seedorf. And I am guessing that Aquilani and possibly Urby will also play, if not start. But I am even less sure about the back line. Abate and Silva should be sure bets, but I would guess that Yepes or possibly the in form Bonera will deputize for Nesta and then we’ll see who plays on the left. Taiwo is still struggling to impress, Antonini has not been stellar, but Zambrotta didn’t have his best game midweek. Back to the left back roulette…. With the International break coming up, Allegri has fewer rotation concerns, so he should definitely field his strongest team possible.

One way or the other, I know where Milan’s hearts will be. Having not successfully pulled off the win on Wednesday for their teammate, they will likely stop at nothing to ensure a solid victory for their beloved teammate. Making sure the parade of elephants does not go on will be as important as any match so far, with three points going to a nearby hospital for a teammate who would love nothing more than to be out their battling elephants himself. Forza Cassano and Forza Milan!




The Milan-Catania match will be played at 15:00 CET (or 9:00 a.m. EST - US fans remember to set your clocks back 1 hour Saturday night!) It is being shown on both FSC and ESPN3 in the US.



This post inspired by the music of AC/DC