On the other side, Udinese has lost three of its first four games and shown a lot of problems with finishing in front of the goal. These issues came out after a surprising win over Juventus (one goal with six shots). Udinese lost 1-0 against Palermo despite shooting 25 times during. It is currently on a three-match losing streak characterized by bad performances.
Projected Milan XI
Projected Udinese XI
Project lineups via La Gazzetta dello Sport
Milan: Antonelli (knee), Niang (foot), Menez (back), Bertolacci (groin), Kucka (ankle), Abate (hamstring), Mexes (knee)
Udinese: Guillherme (knee), Merkel (knee)
Balotelli Starts, Luiz Adriano Benched
Mario Balotelli is finally going to start his first game of the season thanks to the midweek round and the—relatively—poor performances by Luiz Adriano in the last two matches. Balotelli showed flashes of class and talent during the Derby but this won't be enough for Mihajlović, regardless of the outcome of the game. He is looking for someone who can bring some consistency to Milan's offense. Balotelli has already scored four times against Udinese so Milan fans should be optimistic about his performance.
Both Teams Lack In Accuracy
As we said just after the Derby, Milan is one of the least accurate teams in the Serie A but Udinese is not much better, putting fewer than 25 percent of their attempts on target, proving that their accuracy is actually a problem, but what's most shocking is Udinese's scoring percentage, which is an awful 12.5 percent (two goals on 16 shots on target). Fortunately Milan's forwards are way better at finishing in front of the goal thanks to a 33 percent conversion rate.
Calabria Starts For The First Time In His Career
The 18-year-old right back (19 on Sept. 30) played 73 solid minutes against Palermo due to Ignazio Abate's injury early in the first half, but Mihajlović will be forced to send him on the field from the beginning of the game at Stadio Friuli. Starting for the first time in Serie A might be difficult due to the storm of emotions related to this important event, so Calabria should stay focused on the game if he wants to show all his qualities.
De Sciglio vs. Di Natale/Edenilson
Mattie De Sciglio is the cause of the last three goals conceded by Milan, all in the last two games so he will have the opportunity to redeem himself from the mistakes he made recently. Unfortunately for him, he is going to face Antonio Di Natale, one of the best forwards of the Serie A at 38 years old. Di Natale loves playing behind the striker starting both from a wide position or a central one. He's not as quick as he was in his prime, but he overcomes his lack of athleticism with his excellent technique and could create some real problems for Milan's defense if he attacked on the right side of the field. At the same time, De Sciglio will have to pay attention to Udinese's right midfielder, Edenilson, who could take advantage of Udinese's numerical superiority in that area and attack De Sciglio.
Aerial Duels against Duván Zapata
The Zapata vs. Zapata duel is going to be interesting. They are both great in aerial play but Duvàn has already shown he is one of the strongest, most athletic players in Serie A and won't be an easy opponent for Milan's defender. Alessio Romagnoli could provide some help to his teammate with his great elevation and covering abilities, but it won't be easy for him since he will be covering Di Natale, too. Also, Duvàn is one of the most efficient strikers in the league, thanks to his absurd 0.75 goals per 90 minutes rate.
Will Udinese Take Advantage of Its 5-Man Midfield?
As usual, midfield will be the key of the match. Mihajlović will send out his classic 3-man midfield with the trequartista in front of them. Colantuono will try to outnumber Milan with a 3-5-2 formation, as he knows Milan struggles when its opponents put pressure on its midfielders and then attack on the wings. Theoretically, Udinese should easily dominate Milan in that position but it will strongly depend on the tactical adjustments prepared by Mihajlović for this game. For that reason, Andrea Poli will start, along with Giacomo Bonaventura and Riccardo Montolivo, in order to provide the athleticism and energy Milan needs against crowded midfields.