NEWS
Saturday August 24 2013
Line-ups: Verona-Milan

Mario Balotelli, Stephan El Shaarawy and M’Baye Niang take on Luca Toni’s Verona in the Serie A 2013-14 opener.

The campaign finally kicks off at 17.00 UK time (16.00 GMT) at the Stadio Bentegodi. Click here for a match preview.

This is Verona’s first top flight game in 11 years, but it’s a familiar place for Milan supporters, as they famously lost the Scudetto in the ‘Fatal Verona’ 5-3 defeat in May 1973, handing the title to Juventus.

Massimiliano Allegri is under pressure again after a 1-1 Champions League play-off draw at PSV Eindhoven and his men could well be distracted by that upcoming second leg.

Sulley Ali Muntari sits out a ban, while Kevin-Prince Boateng, Giampaolo Pazzini, Daniele Bonera, Riccardo Saponara, Luca Antonini, Bakaye Traore, Gabriel and Jherson Vergara are injured.

Mattia De Sciglio and Robinho returns for spots on the bench, while Niang’s pace completes the trident with El Shaarawy and Balotelli.

There are fears of racist abuse aimed at Balotelli, who reacted this week by mocking the Verona fans on Twitter, reiterating the historic rivalry with his home town Brescia.

From the pre-match warm-up, it seems as if the ultras are going for ‘ironic applause’ rather than ‘monkey noises.’ Other options mentioned include making random sounds whenever he touches the ball.

Hellas Verona are back in Serie A after 11 years, having finished runners-up in Serie B last season behind Sassuolo.

Their new star striker is Toni, while Bosko Jankovic arrived from Genoa and Jorginho is a promising Italy Under-21 international.

Samuele Longo joined on loan from Inter this week and is on the bench.

Alessandro Agostini and Daniele Ragatzu are unavailable for Coach Andrea Mandorlini, who spent several years playing for Inter.

Verona: Rafael; Cacciatore, Maietta, Moras, Albertazzi; Jorginho, Donati, Romulo; Jankovic, Toni, Martinho

Milan: Abbiati; Abate, Zapata, Mexes, Constant; Poli, Montolivo, Nocerino; Niang, Balotelli, El Shaarawy

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