On Saturday, Gennaro Gattuso’s flaming hot Milan side pay last place Chievo a visit at the Bentegodi with the goal of keeping the win streak alive and maintaining momentum heading into next weekend’s Derby della Madonnina.
The Rossoneri enter the tie having won four in a row during an overall nine-match unbeaten run, while the Flying Donkeys just look to play spoiler down the stretch here sitting in 20th.
Here is what you should be watching for in Chievo vs Milan:
Gauging Milan’s midfield effectiveness without Bakayoko: The Chelsea loanee has been reborn wearing the red and black shirt this season, becoming a top player in Rossoneri’s current quest for top four. However, Gattuso will hand Bakayoko a much needed rest ahead of the Milan Derby next Sunday to ensure full fitness, freshness and functionality as the holding midfielder in a 433. Lucas Biglia is likely to relieve him, so it will be interesting to see how Lucas Paquetá and Franck Kessié get on without the Frenchman’s tenacity and armouring presence as cover.
Opportunity awaits Rossoneri reserves to convince Gattuso: According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Gattuso could make four changes to his usual XI: Fabio Borini, Lucas Biglia, Diego Laxalt and Andrea Conti. With this in mind, these reserves have a golden opportunity to convince why they deserve a hike in minutes, and perhaps even prove why they belong in the club’s plans beyond this season – especially if Milan do qualify for the UEFA Champions League.
Suso’s desperation to regain form ahead of Milan Derby: The Spaniard is currently in a winter slump, contributing little to nothing in terms of goal involvement during the club’s unbeaten run. While Suso remains a threat and capable of more beyond goals and assists, he could certainly benefit from a stat padding performance ahead of the Derby, much like the first meeting with Chievo back in October where he had 3 assists.
Piątek set to strike once again while the iron is hot: The Pole has been Europe’s hottest striker since joining Milan in January, bagging 7 goals in 8 appearances. Piątek was unfortunate to have been kept off the scoresheet last weekend in the 1-0 win over Sassuolo when Andrea Consigli pulled him down with a clear chance. But with Chievo averaging 2.5 goals against in their previous 5 meetings with Milan, the 23-year old will look to feast and returning to scoring ways ahead of his first Derby Milano.
Rossoneri’s response after underwhelming performance vs Sassuolo: It was ugly, and no doubt unflattering, but Milan’s victory last week saw them climb into 3rd place, the first time they have occupied the spot in the second half of the season since 2012/13. But make no mistake about it, Gattuso was not pleased with the performance and understands his group will not achieve its objectives if that becomes the norm the rest of the way. Milan are heavy favorites on Saturday, and expected to make it five wins on the trot, but the UCL hopefuls must respond with a much improved outing to carry into their clash at the San Siro vs. Inter.
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