THREE winners from Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) from Serie A on Wednesday night. Can he deliver the goods again on Thursday night?
AC Milan v Carpi | Thursday 19.45 | BT Sport Europe
Cristian Brocchi is Milan’s fourth head coach since Max Allegri was sacked by Silvio Berlusconi back in January 2014. You do wonder whether the Rossoneri president regrets such a decision.
The move to axe Sinisa Mihajlovic last week was just another episode in the sacking circus at the San Siro. Berlusconi is desperate for Milan to be back in Europe but his vanity project is suffering from the lack of stability or vision at the club.
Mihajlovic was never Milan’s best tactician but he’s well capable of producing performances from a mediocre bunch of players. The Serbian was sent packing after a five-match winless streak since February, a run of results that brought Sassuolo within a point of sixth-placed Milan and the final European qualification spot.
But Brocchi guided the Rossoneri to a scratchy 1-0 success at Sampdoria in his debut match on Sunday night and with Sassuolo stuttering, Milan bow boast a three-point cushion ahead of seventh.
Brochi switched systems from 4-4-2 to a 4-3-1-2 at the weekend but it’s fair to say Milan were far from convincing in victory. Emiliano Viviano did pull of an incredible save from Carlos Bacca before the Colombian netted the only goal of the game but Samp were denied an early goal by a wrong offside call.
Juraj Kucka is now suspended for Thursday night’s match but Brochi has options available as he bids for back-to-back wins. The new man in charge is keen to release the shackles in the home camp with the Rossoneri’s biggest problem in 2015/16 clearly their lack of creativity going forward.
Bacca’s hit he target with 67% of his shots this season but the star striker is only averaging 1.90 shots-per-game and Milan need to address that statistic. Provide opportunities to the former bus conductor and the Rossoneri should reap the rewards.
This won’t be a walk in the park for the Italian giants. Carpi upset the odds to smash Genoa 4-1 on their travels at the weekend and have now lost just twice in eight (W3-D3-L2) to sit a point above the Serie A relegation zone.
The Biancorossi haven’t been higher than ninth this term and although they’ve taken just three points from a possible 42 (W0-D3-L11) when taking on the top-eight, Fabrizio Castori’s spirited troops are awkward opponents.
An aggressive high-tempo pressing game has caused the likes of Inter, Fiorentina, Lazio and Napoli major problems whilst their December clash with Milan saw Carpi claim a well-earned 0-0 draw. With a tricky run-in that includes home games against Empoli and Lazio and a daunting trip to Juventus, the Biancorossi will be determined not to leave empty-handed.
Scoring has been Castori’s charges’ biggest issue. Saturday’s win was the he first time all year they had scored more than twice in a game, and they've scored the league's sixth-fewest goals this season. On eight occasions already they’ve fired blanks on their travels.
The Serie A debutants aren’t normally accustomed to playing twice in a week and I do have concerns over whether the plucky visitors will be ready and conditioned for another 90-minute slog after their weekend efforts.
Despite playing against 10 men, Carpi still offered Genoa opportunities on Saturday and their high line could easily be exposed at San Siro. Considering Milan have returned W18-D6-L4 results when entertaining bottom-half teams since 2013/14, the Rossoneri deserve to be favoured as hosts.
But with 16 of those 28 fixtures featuring fewer than three goals, I’m not expecting a one-sided contest.
Since Carpi settled in the Italian top-flight, the Biancorossi have recorded Under 2.5 Goals winners in seven of their last 11 road trips so I’m going to have a wee interest in the 11/8 offered from SkyBet on Milan to win 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1 – four of the guests five losses at top-half teams would have seen this selection pay out.
AC Milan v Carpi – AC Milan to win 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1 (11/8 SkyBet)
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