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Novara-Milan Preview: Here It Goes Again

Something about that Novara team seems strangely familiar… Didn’t we just play them on Wednesday? Yes. Yes, we did. But that was Coppa Italia, and at the San Siro. This time we travel to the Stadio Silvio Piola to play a league match. (Translation: 3 points are at stake.) Oh... That’s cool.


Pippo: "Are you following me? You've been on my back since Wednesday."

It feels like just the other day I wrote a preview for Novara. Oh, yeah. It was. But that was for the Coppa, a competition I’m not sure even the Coppa itself cares about. This is for real, or at least for 3 points. Milan will want redemption for our derby loss, and Novara, sitting in 20th, just want some freaking points already. So whereas some of the play on Wednesday seemed a bit lackadaisical, I have a feeling that this one will be played with a lot more intensity (or shall we say desperation?)

Novara have just 12 points in 18 matches so far, and have a -17 goal differential, which puts them below Lecce, who are tied on points but only -16 on goal differential. I bet Novara are happy Lecce finally gave up that last spot, where they have sat much of the season, to share with them. Or maybe not. Novara have an interesting record: 10 losses, 6 draws, and 2 wins (vs. Inter & Parma.) As we saw on Wednesday, they have dogged determination, scoring their equalizer in the 88th minute. And with that kind of determination, anything can happen. So we must be careful (and make sure we maintain our walls on free kicks.)

Novara makes Ambrosini a deja vu sandwich.

Wednesday I think even Novara manager Attilio Tesser may have rested a few players. The starting lineup was Fontana; Morganella, Dellafiori, Paci, Centurioni, Garcia; Marianini, Radovanovic, Pesce; Granoche, and Morimoto. While he may stick to his apparent 3-5-2 formation, I am willing to bet that he will tinker with his lineup based on what he saw on Wednesday.

Only on Wednesday, Allegri seemingly went down the list of who hadn’t had much playing time and threw them out onto the pitch for either an audition or bloodsport, I’m still not sure which. But with injuries and a desperate need for 3 points, I’m willing to bet he will pick his best standing 11. My magic 8-ball tells me it might look a little something like this: Amelia (Abbiati is still injured); Abate, Mexes (Nesta is suspended) Silva, Mesbah in the back. Then Merkel, Van Bommel, Nocerino, Robinho; Ibra, El Shaarawy. I know it’s going out on a limb, but I think he’ll put Mesbah out as a sub, if not to start. Merkel did well enough to earn a start, as did El Shaarawy. He may hold Robinho back as a sub and start Seedorf or Urby, but it’s hard to know. He’s putting a lot of faith in Urby and we could use Robinho on the bench, too, to come on and make a real difference.

Antonini thinks this thigh in his face seems awfully familiar.

What will be completely different is the pitch. The Stadio Silvio Piola has a synthetic pitch. I know Allegri has had them training on the synthetic pitch at Milanello since Wednesday to try to prepare them. But sometimes, something seemingly so little can make a big difference. It certainly gives the boys in blue a bit of an advantage. But I hope that our quality and experience will prove to be a much bigger advantage and Milan will make us proud.

Our injury crisis is in full effect again, so we cannot be complacent for even a second. We must band together again like we did last year and play all out, even against the underdogs. Well, especially against the underdogs. As fans, we should also band together and support our team. These are tumultuous times, on and off the pitch, where there are a lot of questions and accusations flying and a lot of distractions to be found. The only thing that is certain is that at 15:00 CET, 11 players wearing the Milan jersey will be on the pitch in Novara. We can band together, whether alone in front of a computer or TV screen, with friends, or at the Stadio Silvio Piola. And once the whistle blows, those are our boys. Regardless of who Allegri lines up, regardless off transfer rumors or whatever. On Sunday, it is Milan time. Time to stand proud and cheer our boys to victory. We’ll have 4 days in between matches to gossip. Forza Milan!


Novara vs. Milan
Sunday, January 22 • 15:00 CET (9am EST)
You can see it LIVE on ESPN3 (or maybe on RAI) in the U.S.
This match is being DELAYED on FSC until 11am EST in the U.S.


This post inspired by the music of OK GO: