It was a successful start to the reign of new manager Clarence Seedorf, but will the good times keep rolling when AC Milan dukes it out with Udinese in the cup for our soccer picks?
For this quarter-final at the San Siro, the Rossoneri are favored at almost -230 to win outright. Udinese can be backed at a huge number of -890 and a draw (+440 or so) also doesn't seem like a likely outcome in the eyes of soccer oddsmakers.
The Bianconeri have been disappointing so far in 2013/14 and that's putting it nicely.
They currently take up the 15th spot in Serie A and are just three points clear of the relegation zone. Consecutive losses to Sampdoria (0-3 away) and Lazio (2-3 at home) certainly haven't helped the cause.
One of the highlights of Udinese's campaign was their Round of 16 win over Inter Milan a couple weeks back. Inter may not be quite the powerhouse they once were, but it was still a great performance regardless.
If the cup magic is to continue, the Bianconeri have to produce a similar display away from Stadio Friuli. The one to watch is Antonio Di Natale, an extremely experienced forward who leads the team with five league goals so far.
Unfortunately, playing away from home has produced awful results for Di Natale and friends. They've lost seven of ten matches and giving up eight more goals (17) than they've scored themselves (9). As if playing a talented team in AC Milan wasn't hard enough.
So far so good for new boss Clarence Seedorf. In his first match in charge, Milan won 1-0 over Hellas Verona.
It looked as if we were going to finish at a 0-0 deadlock, but a converted late penalty from Mario Balotelli ended up being the decider. Considering Milan had dominated possession and totaled almost twice as many shots as Verona, it was a fair result in the end.
With the Rossoneri still way off the pace in 11th place in Serie A, it was a much-needed three points. It's shocking to see such a world soccer power like Milan struggling like they are, but maybe this manager change will be just the jolt they needed.
In the Coppa Italia, Milan beat Spezia 3-1 at home in the Round of 16, thanks to goals from Robinho, Giampaolo Pazzini and Keisuke Honda, his first for his new club.
The level of competition goes up dramatically now with the arrival of Udinese to the San Siro. It hasn't been a total fortress for the Rossoneri this season, but they have lost just twice at home in domestic action.
Coppa Italia Pick
That cup win over Inter was a great accomplishment for Udinese, but we think it all comes to an end on Wednesday.
Milan has wiped the slate clean under Clarence Seedorf and we reckon the energy and mood around that camp has improved dramatically. We expect the Rossoneri to slowly make their way up the Serie A table, while also advancing into the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia with a win over Udinese.
With far more talent within their ranks and a wave of optimism arriving, we recommend backing Milan to win as one of your soccer picks for the week.
Soccer Pick: Udinese 0 AC Milan 2