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Match Preview: Milan Faces Rejuvenated Bologna

After a difficult December, Milan hopes to start 2016 with a win against Roberto Donadoni's revitalized Bologna side.

Giacomo Bonaventura celebrates with Andrea Poli
Giacomo Bonaventura celebrates with Andrea Poli
Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

As was the case in 2014, Milan struggled in 2015.

The optimism at the beginning of the season has largely dissipated, and, once again, Milanisti are left with the disheartening realization Milan is still lagging some way behind the teams battling it out at the top of the Serie A table.

With the winter break now at an end, Milan will look put a difficult 2015 behind it and work on climbing the table, beginning with the visit of Roberto Donadoni's rejuvenated Bologna side.

Milan finished the calender year in sixth place, with seven points between it and the Champions League places. The points dropped against the likes of Carpi and Verona are beginning to look all the more costly ahead of a tough January that includes matches against Roma, Fiorentina and Inter.

Bologna make for comparatively modest opposition, and the need to secure a win is essential with the difficult schedule. As limp draws against the likes of Atalanta and Carpi have shown, however, teams like Bologna are capable of causing problems for Milan. Bologna, at its best this season, has been disciplined and highly effective. Should Milan perform as poorly as it did throughout December, more points will be dropped.

Going into the new year, the 4-4-2 formation looks to be here to stay, although Sinisa Mihajlovic is likely to make a few changes to the starting line-up.

Luca Antonelli should finally return to the lineup following a lengthy injury layoff, and he will likely replace the erratic Mattia De Sciglio. Alessio Romagnoli will miss the game through suspension. Despite rumors linking him to a move away from Milan, Phillipe Mexes will likely take his place in the starting line-up alongside Alex. While Antonelli will add security on the right flank, the absence of Romagnoli will prove a big blow, given the lack of good defensive cover. Mexes will need to have a rare good performance.

Keisuke Honda should retain his place in the team, having impressed against Frosinone in place of Alessio Cerci. The strike partnership of Carlos Bacca and M'Baye Niang should remain unchanged. The understanding between the reliable Colombian and the mercurial Frenchman continues to improve with each match, and the mixture of precision and flair the two provide can be Milan's greatest asset in this match.

While the other promoted sides have faltered this season, Bologna has overcome a difficult start to find solidity under the stewardship of Milan legend Donadoni. There is a possibility the Rossoblu could punish Milan, if given the opportunity to do so.

A strong midfield, including the likes of Guinean enforcer Amadou Diawara and Cagliari-owned Godfred Donsah, will battle hard from the first minute. Former Milan striker Mattia Destro will be desperate to come back to haunt Milan, as he did Roma last year.

There's no room for slip-ups this time around. Starting 2016 with a win could give Milan the encouragement it needs to push on and qualify for Champions League.

Predicted Line-Ups:

Milan: 4-4-2 - Gianluigi Donnarumma; Ignazio Abate, Phillipe Mexes, Alex, Luca Antonelli; Keisuke Honda, Andrea Bertolacci, Riccardo Montolivo, Giacomo Bonaventura; Carlos Bacca, M'Baye Niang.

Bologna: 4-3-3 - Antonio Mirante; Luca RossettiniMarios Oikonomou, Daniele Gastaldello, Adam Masina; Saphir Taider, Amadou Diawara, Godfred Donsah; Anthony Mounier, Mattia Destro, Emanuele Giaccherini.

Score Prediction

Bologna won't make it easy, and Destro will almost certainly score. That's what happens with ex-Milan players. There's no doubting who the better team is, and Milan should come out on top, thanks to the usual suspects Bacca and Bonaventura.

Milan 3-2 Bologna