Serie A Preview: Hellas Verona - AC Milan

Matthew Rogerson
Serie A Preview: Hellas Verona - AC Milan

AC Milan will play its 4,000th competitive game when it faces Hellas Verona in Serie A's opening game at Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi on Saturday.

Massimiliano Allegri is likely to see this campaign as an opportunity to move on from what was a mixed season last time out. After a poor start, which saw Milan win just one of its opening four games, Allegri was quickly under fire.

However, he eventually secured a place in the UEFA Champions League playoffs thanks to a dramatic 2-1 win in the final game against Siena to ensure the Rossoneri finished third. 

Verona enjoyed a much more positive season as it finished second behind Sassuolo to secure promotion from Serie B. 

Milan fullback Ignazio Abate believes his opponent will see the arrival of the 18-time Scudetto winner as a "dream" matchup. Abate, who assisted Stephan El Shaarawy's header in Milan's 1-1 Champions League playoff draw with PSV on Tuesday, told the club's official website: "We will have a big game on a difficult pitch.

"We expect it will be sold out in Verona, it has been their desire and dream so we need to watch out."

The 26-year-old Abate also believes a boosted togetherness within the camp can help Milan improve on its third-place finish last season. 

"We are an amazing group, it is an adjective that is taken for granted, but it is. We are very united and we get on well," Abate said. "Since last year the group has cemented itself a lot, and Massimiliano Allegri has squared the circle. It will be a long season, and there will be difficult moments where we will suffer.

"Our objectives are to remain attached to the top teams, then we'll see what happens in the last two months."

Allegri could have defender Mattia De Sciglio (knee) and Brazilian forward Robinho (thigh) available after injury, with both players returning to training after Tuesday's draw in Eindhoven.

While Milan comes into the game having only managed a draw with PSV, Verona picked up a 1-0 win in the Coppa Italia over Palermo on Saturday thanks to a Luca Toni goal. 

Andrea Mandorlini has since strengthened his side with the loan acquisition of Samuele Longo from Inter, with the 21-year-old anticipating a challenge this season, starting with a clash against his parent club's fierce rivals.

"(Verona) was one of the first teams to look for me and I immediately accepted the offer to come to Verona," Longo told the club's official website. "It's a challenge that I'm ready to deal with, I cannot wait (to) start."