Serie A Week 22 – 29 Jan 2017 (14.00 UK)
Udinese – Milan
Stadio Friuli

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Udinese vs AC Milan Preview

Udinese welcome what could be a weary Milan side to the Dacia Arena this weekend in a tricky clash for both sides.

Gigi Del Neri’s Udinese are somewhat out of form having lost three straight, while Vincenzo Montella’s Milan are coming off an intense and physical Coppa Italia loss Wednesday against Juventus. On the road again and on less than five days rest, the Rossoneri face off against a 12th-placed Udinese side searching for consistency.

Del Neri has yet to win a match in 2017, with losses to Empoli, Roma, and Inter. The Bianconeri will hope to put together a quality match in attempts to find the form that allowed them to win three straight in December. Udinese are without starting right back Silvan Widmer and have Molla Wague and Emmanuel Badu on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations.

On the transfer market, only a medical is necessary before signing Inter’s Assane Gnoukouri, but he likely will not have any role in the match this weekend. Two 21-year-olds Seko Fofana and Jakub Jankto are expected to play outside the experienced Emil Hallfredsson in the Zebrette midfield. In the attack Udinese continue to rely to their number nine Duvan Zapata, likely flanked by Cyril Thereau and Rodrigo de Paul.

Although Milan have played spirited and attractive football, they have lost their last two matches 2-1 to Napoli last weekend and to Juventus Wednesday. On both occasions they were 2-0 down within 20 minutes and a comeback wasn’t quite enough to recover from the dismal start.

Their new signing Gerard Deulofeu looked impressive as a substitute against Juve, and should hope to play a more prominent role considering the departure of M’Baye Niang to Watford. In defence the rested Gabriel Paletta looks poised to return to partner Alessio Romagnoli.

Montella will need another strong effort from his players, they have dropped to seventh position (with a game in hand against Bologna) and need to look for all three points this weekend to stay with the pack challenging for the Champions League positions.

This match is a challenging one to approach for both teams. Del Neri’s Udinese will be well rested and have prepared all week for this match. On the other side, Milan enter the clash on less rest, but are equally as desperate to win. Both sides want to play smart without risking too much and giving their opponent easy opportunities.

The Zebrette will rely on their home field advantage and should they play a physical high tempo match, they could produce a surprise. Montella’s players will be put to the test both physically and psychologically after such a tense match in Turin on Wednesday. Should they come out on top, it will prove how legitimate their run this season can be.

Keep an eye on: Gerard Deulofeu (Milan) – The technically gifted young Spanish winger comes fresh off his transfer from Everton. The former Barcelona youth player was skilled and dangerous attacking for Milan off the bench days ago, and this weekend’s trip to Udine is a great opportunity for him to prove his worth right away for his new team.

Form Guide: Udinese (L L L D W) Milan (L D W D L)

Last season: Udinese 2-3 Milan

Stat fact: Milan have only managed to win in Udine twice in their last eight Serie A fixtures.

Toptip: Carlos Bacca to score anytime

Udinese (probable): Karnezis; Faraoni, Danilo, Felipe, Samir; Fofana, Hallfredsson, Jankto; De Paul, Duvan Zapata, Thereau

Milan (probable): Donnarumma; Abate, Paletta, Romagnoli, Antonelli; Kucka, Locatelli, Pasalic; Deulofeu, Bacca, Bonaventura

Prediction: over 2.5