What: Italian Serie A
Who: AS Roma vs AC Milan
When: Saturday 22nd December, 2012, at 19:45 UK time
Where: Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy

Holding On

AS Roma prepare for their last league game of 2012 with an important meeting against Milanese giants AC Milan. The capital side know that this game is a must-win one, as three points against their Lombardy visitors would open a five-point gap between the two clubs, as well as potentially sending them up the standings should Fiorentina or Napoli slip up in their respective matches against Palermo and Siena.

Ever since their 3-2 defeat in the Derbi Della Capitale against Lazio on 11th November, Roma have turned their form around and managed five consecutive wins against Torino, Pescara, Siena, Fiorentina and Atalanta, only for their luck to run out as they could not topple Chievo in their last league match.

Against Milan, the home side did have fitness doubts over Daniele De Rossi and Pablo Osvaldo for this and it remains to be seen how fit they are. However, they will be buoyed by the fact that their adversaries on the night have only managed three wins at the Olimpico whenever the two sides met in the league in the last 15 years. However, the Giallorossi’s last win on their own turf dates back to March 2008, and they will need to display a serious side of their game should they want to end the year on a high.

Ending 2012 on a Positive Note

Massimiliano Allegri’s side will have one objective in sight when they travel to the country’s capital in order to meet Roma, and that is beat their adversaries and end the year on a good note. With the Giallorossi just two points ahead of them, a win would allow the five-time Champions League winners to snatch 6th place just before the league stops as the festive season gets under way.

Milan continue to struggle after the departures of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, as a seventh-place spot is not at all worthy of their extensive and decorated pedigree. Against Pescara in the team’s last match – a 4-1 win for the Rossoneri – the visiting side were able to score following some careless defending. Allegri was less than pleased with the way his team handled this particular situation, declaring that his side cannot afford mistakes against the 2001 league champions.

“We need intensity from all our players at the moment and then on Saturday we’ll see where we are. It’s a tough match as they’re one of the two best teams in the league in terms of technical skill. In Catania we made our lives difficult with some carelessness defending from a corner. Today that happened again and we have to do something about it. Against Roma, we won’t be able to afford to concede anything”, declared the ex-Cagliari boss after the Pescara game.

Recent form

AS Roma:
Roma 4-2 Fiorentina (08/12; Serie A)
Roma 3-0 Atalanta (11/12; Coppa Italia)
Chievo 1-0 Roma (16/12; Serie A)

AC Milan:
Torino 2-4 Milan (09/12; Serie A)
Milan 3-0 Reggina (13/12; Coppa Italia)
Milan 4-1 Pescara (16/12; Serie A)

Key absences

AS Roma: Leandro Castan; Marquinhos (doubt); Alessio Romagnioli (doubt); Rodrigo Taddei (doubt); Junior Tallo (doubt)

AC Milan: Nigel de Jong; Alexandre Pato; Didac Vila; Daniele Bonera (doubt); Bakaye Traore (doubt)

Players to watch

Roma – Francesco Totti: The captain is nothing short of a legend at Roma, even at 35 years of age and with the presence of Eric Lamela and Pablo Osvaldo. Totti has been his side’s most used players this term and much will rest on his shoulders ahead of this one.

AC Milan – Stephan El Shaarawy: The role of the young forward has increased this season and he has come to life. His 14 goals in 17 Serie A games say a lot about a young player that is expected to carry Ibrahimovic’s mantle at some point.

Match Prediction

Both teams have shown irregular form at home and on the road, and little separates them, in terms of points or ability at the moment. Milan need to find a winning streak before meeting Barcelona in the Champions League, but that remains unlikely against Roma. Expect an entertaining draw.

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