Friday, January 31, 2014

AC Milan-Torino Preview: Balotelli banned but Essien could debut for resurgent Rossoneri

Milan coach Clarence Seedorf (L) and striker Mario Balotelli

If Clarence Seedorf is to continue AC Milan's recent resurgence against Torino on Saturday, he must do so without striker Mario Balotelli.

While the Rossoneri bowed out of the Coppa Italia at the hands of Udinese last week, their new Dutch coach boasts a 100 per cent record in Serie A since taking over from Massimiliano Allegri earlier this month.

Balotelli has been a key figure in Milan's revival, scoring in each of the three games under Seedorf, while also grabbing the winner in the corresponding fixture at San Siro last season.

However, the Italy international striker will miss out on the visit ofGiampiero Ventura's men this time round after triggering a suspension with his booking in the 2-1 win over Cagliari last Sunday.

Seedorf's two Serie A wins have propelled Milan up to ninth in the table, but even another victory on Saturday will not move them any further up the standings.

Three points, however, would put Milan within a point of their opponents in sixth, and captain Riccardo Montolivo feels Seedorf's arrival has already had a positive effect on the squad.

"With Seedorf we have begun a new era at the club. Hopefully, everything will go well," the midfielder said.

"I think we have a good team, but Clarence's impact has been great."

This promises to be Seedorf's biggest test yet as Milan boss, though, with Torino flying in Serie A - just a point off Inter, who occupy the final European qualification spot.

Torino have lost just once in their last nine matches in all competitions and are unbeaten in three, having not conceded a goal since January 6, against Parma.

It is the first time Torino have kept three consecutive clean sheets in Serie A since May 2007, but, historically speaking, it is Milan who have the upper hand in this fixture, especially at San Siro.

Five of the sides' last eight meetings in Milan have ended in victories for the hosts, with the Granata scoring just twice on their last six visits to the Giuseppe Meazza.

Michael Essien could make his debut for Milan, having completed his first training session at the club on Wednesday following his move from Chelsea, while Torino will begin life without defender Danilo D'Ambrosio, who has joined Inter.

AC Milan-Torino Preview: Balotelli banned but Essien could debut for resurgent Rossoneri Rating: 4.5 Posted by: Unknown

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