The last time AC Milan faced Roma at the San Siro it was a mild May evening and the 2012-13 Serie A season was drawing to a close. Milan were on the cusp of confirming a Champions League finish while Roma were set for an unremarkable top half place under caretaker manager, Aurelio Andreazzoli. A goalless draw was distinguished by two red cards and the unedifying sight of a stoppage for racist abuse aimed towards Milan’s Mario Balotelli. The fortunes of both clubs have diverged since but the result when they meet again is likely to be the same, with the spoils shared once more.
Milan to win – 2.26
Draw – 3.10
Roma to win – 3.05
(Odds provided by GEObet.com are current as of today but subject to change.)
The Rossoneri are enduring their worst start to a league campaign since 1981-2 when the team was relegated. History repeating itself is improbable but this is a disjointed side led by the beleaguered Massimiliano Allegri. Their first 13 games this season returned a meagre 14 points, drawing the ire of the hardcore in the Curva Sud.
Following a 1-1 home draw against Genoa last month, Milan’s Ultras blockaded the team bus’ exit from the San Siro in protest. The iconic Kaka and club stalwart Christian Abbiati eventually relented, engaging with the supporters to ease the situation. Adding to the soap opera there has been a public power struggle for the day to day running of the club between the owner’s daughter, Barbara Berlusconi and the current vice president Adriano Galliani. This resulted in the latter’s resignation which was duly rejected by Barbara’s father, Silvio.
Recovering from a sluggish start may well be Milan and Allegri’s forte, however, as it was the hallmark of their previous season. Those signs could be revealing themselves again. After six weeks without a win they managed a 3-1 victory away to Catania. From a one goal deficit the spine of the team finally showed some resolve. Goals from Riccardo Montolivo, Mario Balotelli and Kaká provided a comfortable win. The returning Brazilian who now has 99 goals from Milan has injected some desperately needed creativity, while the talismanic Balotelli rescued a 2-2 draw last weekend at newly promoted Livorno. Meanwhile there is optimism that the prodigiously talented Stephan El Shaarawy and Mattia De Sciglio will feature more following injuries.
Reaching the glided Champions League places seems unlikely for Milan but there are loftier ambitions in the capital where Roma broke Italian football history to record 10 wins from their first 10 league games this season. The Giallorossi sold Erik Lamela, Dani Osvaldo and Marquinhos but their loss was mitigated by the club’s most important summer business, the appointment of the urbane Frenchman, Rudi Garcia as manager. Canny acquisitions followed in the form of Kevin Strootman, Gervinho and Mehdi Benatia. Quick, transitional football with a watertight defence has been their strength thus far. A vintage season from their all time top goalscorer Francesco Totti hasn’t hurt either.
At 37 years of age it is remarkable how reliant Roma remain on Totti for that touch of brilliance and invention in tight games- his absence through injury coincided with four consecutive draws, halting their astonishing start to the campaign. Il Capitano returned to the bench last weekend for a home tie versus Fiorentina where Mattia Destro, fresh from returning from injury himself, scored the winner and immediately raced to the bench, embracing Totti.
Despite remaining unbeaten, Roma are now second in the division with Juventus three points clear. A first Scudetto since 2001 may be a step too far for the Romans but with a stingy defence, a well balanced midfield and the attacking intent of Gervinho and Alessandro Florenzi, this is undoubtedly an exciting side.
Monday night sees ninth clash with second. The slowly recovering Milan are without a home win since beating Udinese in October. Coincidentally Roma have not won away since travelling to Udine in October. A draw seems the best bet with both teams to get on the scoresheet.
Betting Instinct tip – Milan 1-1 Roma is 7.00 with AllYouBet.ag
JACK HOWLETT spends most of his time following the ups and downs (mostly downs) of West Ham United. To find some solace he takes a keen interest in foreign leagues, especially Italy’s Serie A.