This evening, AC Milan will take on SPAL away from home, in what will be their final game of the season. As expected, it will also be a very important one, as the Rossoneri are in need of a win in order to keep their Champions League dream alive.
Since Juventus failed to beat Atalanta last weekend, the Bergamo side still have the upper hand against Milan, currently sitting one point ahead of Gattuso’s men with 66 points in third place. Inter, meanwhile, are in fourth with the same amount of points. In other words, it’s not only in the Rossoneri’s hand this evening, as they will need help from either Sassuolo or Empoli.
There are several different scenarios that would guarantee Milan Champions League qualification. Should they win against SPAL, then it would be enough if either Atalanta or Inter drop points, whereas a draw would only be enough for the San Siro side if Atalanta lose and Inter claim at least one point (if they all finish on the same points, Milan will miss out on UCL). With that out of the way, three points is a must this evening.
Gattuso is expected to continue with the starting eleven he fielded last time out, going for consistency in what will be the most important game of the season. At the back, Abate will play his last game for Milan, as his contract expires this summer. With that said, his teammates will be looking to give him a night to remember, celebrating Champions League qualification for the first time since 2013.
As mentioned, nothing will be changed in the line-up, with Bakayoko once again being trusted in the regista role ahead of Biglia. As Paqueta is serving a three-game ban, Calhanoglu will drop down to midfield as usual, while Borini will occupy the left-wing role. Hopefully, the Italian will be able to provide Piatek with yet another assist, offloading some responsibility off Suso’s shoulders.
Likely AC Milan XI (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Abate, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Bakayoko, Calhanoglu; Suso, Piatek, Borini.
Historically, Milan have had no issues with SPAL, losing only one of the last 35 encounters with the Ferrara side. In addition to this, the Rossoneri have won their last two away Serie A games at the Stadio Paolo Mazza, scoring exactly four goals in each of these (4-1 in September 1967; 4-0 in February 2018).
Taking a look at some individual numbers, Milan’s Krzysztof Piatek (12) and SPAL’s Andrea Petagna (eight) have scored the most opening goals in the current league season; the last player to net more opening goals in a single Serie A campaign was Antonio Di Natale in 2011/12 (13).
The Polish attacker (currently on nine goals with the Rossoneri), could become the first player in Serie A history to score at least 10 goals with two different teams in the same league season (scored 13 with Genoa).
Given the importance of the game, one will have to hope that the Rossoneri are motivated enough to get the job done quite easily. However, they could just as well crumble under the pressure, throwing away the only chance they have of returning to Champions League football next season. Therefore, it’s a tough game to call, though Milan should get there in the end. Will they get Champions League, though? Well, that remains to be seen.
SPAL 0-2 AC Milan