AC Milan take on AS Roma at the San Siro on Sunday night in one of the Italian season's glamour ties, although the recent struggles of both sides means the clash has lost some of its usual lustre.
Sunday's match has been portrayed as make or break for Milan's Leonardo. With just nine points from seven games in Serie A and an unexpected loss to FC Zurich in the Champions League, the pressure is on Milan's fledgling manager to achieve a result.
The Rossoneri's problems in front of goal have been evident this season: losing top scorer Kaka to Real Madrid in the summer has not helped, but with just four goals from seven games, they have the third worst attack in Serie A. Striker Alexandre Pato grabbed two goals on the opening day of the season against Siena but has failed to score since. “Things have changed and we are lacking a little luck”, the twenty year-old Brazilian told Sky Sport 24 ahead of this weekend's clash, understating the scale of Milan's troubles.
Roma suffered their own attacking blow on Friday with news that Francesco Totti is unlikely to overcome a knee injury in time for the Sunday evening encounter. The news comes at a bad time for the Giallorossi who, after a shaky start, have seen a surge in form recently. Roma are unbeaten in Serie A since Claudio Ranieri replaced Luciano Spalletti at the start of September. The Giallorossi are a more toothless proposition without their talisman Totti, who is responsible for six of Roma's fourteen goals this campaign.
Sunday's clash, then, will be a tussle between two wounded giants of Italian football; both sides are a far cry from their strength of two years ago, when Roma finished runners up in Serie A and Milan won the Champions League. Yet whereas Roma under Ranieri look to have turned a corner, the signs are ominous for Leonardo: Roma have won their last three games at the San Siro against Milan and will go into the game as deserved strong favourites.
Last five in Serie A: Milan (D W L D D) Roma (W W D D W)
Last season: Milan 2-3 Roma