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Udinese-Milan Preview: Zebrette Crossing

On Sunday we are away to Udine to face a team almost as unlucky as us. They were squeezed out of the Champions League on penalties, and lost Luis Muriel for 2 ½ months to injury. Of course, they did pull out a 1-1 draw to Russian side Anzhi yesterday in the Europa League. And they didn’t lose 14 players over the summer, even if they sold 2 of their best like us. And Guidolin’s job isn’t being micromanaged by their sporting director, nor is his job under pressure from fans and the media. Nor did Guidolin have a very public argument with a former Udinese legend and current youth coach to make matters worse. Nor do they already have more than 1 injury per game average after having a season of 307 injuries, amongst other things. So maybe they are not so unlucky, and I guess we should be prepared to be trampled by some little zebras. Beware of Zebrette crossing.




Udinese are a team that is tough to hate. They have an amazing business model and the best scouts anywhere, which always results in quality play on the pitch. Guidolin is a fantastic manager, and who could say anything bad about their captain, Di Natale? But for this Sunday, the Zebrette are sharpening their hooves, getting ready to take advantage of our current shambolic state. So for Sunday, we need our boys to be i leone, or the lions, and take down these little zebras… if we can.

Udinese’s lack of luck has seen them to two losses and a draw in the league. I am sure that being at home and watching us have the same results, they are looking to keep all three points at the Stadio Friuli. Guidolin will have to do without Lazzarri, who earned himself a couple of yellows and was sent off in their draw vs. Siena. But other than that, I would guess he would start a lineup like this: Padelli; Danilo, Domizzi, Benatia; Maicosuel, Allan, Pinzi, Pasquale, Basta; Di Natale, and Barreto. Watch out in attack, Di Natale may be old, but you can never count him out. He’s looking to add to his collection of Capocannoniere titles, we must do everything to stop him.

The man knows how to score

Milan, on the other hand, are getting unsolicited advice from past coaches, players, ultras,  fans, the media on how to resolve our current poor form. As the brilliant fsun said, “we’re getting 1/3 of the points for only 2/3rds the wages.” I’m not sure mere advice will solve that problem. And the rumors surrounding Allegri’s job aren’t helping, either. With so many distractions, it will be a miracle if they are able to focus and pull off a win.

It will also be a miracle if I can guess what Allegri will do as far as tactics and lineups are concerned. He’s got Montolivo back, but Bonera is unlikely after being injured on Tuesday. Will he play Zapata against his former club? I wouldn’t hold my breath. He’s never been sentimental, does not seem to care about that intangible extra something that a player gets when he faces a former club. He’ll more likely put Acerbi in the start. I assume Mexes, De Sciglio, and Antonini will start, even if one of these is not like the other.

Don't you have another lip sync/dance number you could work on?

I would expect some kind of midfield formation involving Montolivo, De Jong, Nocerino, and possibly Urby or maybe Constant. Although Boateng seems to have bewitched Allegri, so don’t rule him out. And then Pazzini and either El Shaarawy or Bojan in attack, although that could change depending on what formation he goes with, too. I’m going to leave the guesswork to all of you on this one.

One thing is for certain, until something changes, this team is going to be overscrutinized and under a lot of pressure. We call it “too many cooks in the kitchen,” and it is a shame, because Milan’s season is going to pay for it. Every day that goes by it seems more likely that Allegri will soon be unemployed. Whatever your views on this are, you must admit that the longer the circus goes, the more damaging it is to the mentality of the team. If he’s going to go, let him go. If you are truly going to stand by him, then stop sending Galliani to every freaking training session and do a better job managing the media. Some of us want this to be about football.

Are you ready for some football?

This is the biggest mess I can remember, with the club’s dirty laundry hanging out for everyone to see. So I hope that for 90 minutes on Sunday, it can just be about football again. That our boys are inspired rather than distracted by the circus and that they manage the seemingly impossible: defeat Udinese at home. They will be tired from yesterday’s Europa League match, so one thing is in our favor. We need to pull it together and show the world what Milan are truly made of. That we’re not just some fodder for Zebrette crossing.

This post inspired by the music of The Clash

Udinese vs. Milan
Sunday, September 23rd • 15:00 CEST (9am EDT)
This match being broadcast on BeIN Sport and RAI in the U.S.
Streams will be posted before the match