Thursday, April 24, 2014

Roma-AC Milan Preview: El Shaarawy closing in on return as Serie A's form sides clash

Stephan El Shaarawy Milan
Two of Serie A's in-form sides collide at Stadio Olimpico on Friday as a rampant Roma host the resurgent AC Milan.

Roma have kept the pressure on league leaders Juventus with an outstanding run of eight successive wins that has seen them clinch second position in the table.

They have secured a berth in the group stages of next season's Champions League as a result, and although they are unlikely to catch Juve - who lead by eight points with just four matches left, Rudi Garcia has still done a tremendous job in his first campaign in charge.

Roma have lost just twice in the league this season, and beat fourth-placed Fiorentina 1-0 away last time out.

Radja Nainggolan's first half goal was enough for the capital club, who have had 10 different players score during their winning streak.

The Giallorossi are without the suspended Mattia Destro, who has scored seven goals in six games, but Garcia has the likes of Gervinho and veteran captain Francesco Totti to rely on to fill the void.

However, Milan have every reason to feel confident of pulling off an upset after five Serie A wins in a row lifted them to seventh.

Key to Milan's run has been defensive stability, with Clarence Seedorf's side conceding just once in their winning streak.

Mario Balotelli has returned to form, while Brazilian Kaka is showing the sort of class that made him such a hit in his first spell at the club.

Milan have a tricky fortnight ahead, with the trip to Roma followed by a derby against Inter - who sit just five points ahead of them in fifth.

Despite the potential stakes in the cross-town clash in terms of a European berth, though, midfielder Sulley Muntari says all their energy is going into stopping Roma.

"The whole squad is doing well and we hope to continue this run until the end of the season," Muntari told Milan Channel.

"These next two games are going to be difficult, but we can't get ahead of ourselves - we must focus first on Roma. Only after that game can we think about the derby.

"We'll go to the Olimpico and do what Mr Seedorf tells us. Thankfully, everything is going well for us at the moment. We're going match by match."

Muntari returned from a calf injury to make an appearance off the bench in the club's 3-0 win over Livorno on Saturday.

Nigel De Jong will be suspended for Milan, while Keisuke Honda (ankle), Mattia De Sciglio (ankle) and Michael Essien (thigh) are doubtful.

Young striker Stephan El Shaarawy could also feature off the bench for his first Milan appearance since December after recovering from a foot injury.

Roma-AC Milan Preview: El Shaarawy closing in on return as Serie A's form sides clash Rating: 4.5 Posted by: Unknown


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