Football: Milan look to history

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The Independent Online
THE Milan coach, Fabio Capello, may lament the plague of injuries that has denuded his side ahead of Sunday's key clash with Parma - but at least he still has history on his side.

Capello's resurgent squad risk missing five starters on Sunday but he can take solace from the fact that Milan usually leave Parma's Tardini Stadium with at least a point, if not more.

Parma boast only one home victory over Milan, the 2-0 defeat they handed the then European champions in January 1991, in their first Serie A season. While that win heralded Parma's rise to the top of European soccer, it proved a lone episode.

Patient Parma fans are still awaiting a second victory over their big- city rivals at the Tardini stadium. Milan have dominated there in league clashes with a record of three wins, three draws and just one defeat.

Were that legacy not enough to boost Capello's morale, he could also take comfort from Milan's away record this season. They have won four of their seven league matches on the road compared to two victories from eight at their San Siro Stadium.

The Italy defender Alessandro Costacurta put Milan's indifferent home form down to the poor pitch at the San Siro: "We're a team that likes to play the ball and the horrible conditions of that pitch do not help us," Costacurta was quoted as telling the Gazzetta dello Sport daily.

He said that the pockmarked pitch may have also contributed to the string of injuries. When Juventus played Milan at the San Siro earlier this season their striker Nicola Amoruso snared his foot and broke a leg. He reportedly threatened to sue Milan over the state of the pitch.

Milan's own injuries have ruled out the striker George Weah and the defenders Andre Cruz and Steinar Nilsen from Sunday's match.

Parma, meanwhile, appear to be physically in good shape, although not as much can be said for their game. Defeated 5-2 at Sampdoria last week, Parma appear set to confirm their usual starting line-up with Nestor Sensini and Dino Baggio providing the muscle in midfield and Enrico Chiesa the inspiration in attack.

Chiesa, for the moment, will be without Faustino Asprilla, Newcastle United's Colombian striker who was due to arrive in Parma on Friday afternoon and appears certain to re-sign for his old club early next week. Asprilla has to undergo medical tests and, assuming he signs, would not start practising with the team until next week.

"It's too bad he won't be ready for the Milan match," the Parma coach Carlo Ancelotti told Gazzetta.