Following a very disappointing start to the year, managing just one point at home against Sampdoria, AC Milan have a lot to prove as they take on Cagliari at the Sardegna Arena tomorrow afternoon. Certainly, the pressure is on them to show that they really are on the right track.
The Rossoneri’s performance last time out was dreadful overall, and although there were some positive glimpses, they will need to drastically improve as tomorrow’s clash won’t be an easy one. Sure, Cagliari’s impressive start has hit a roadblock as of late, but Milan have enough of their own problems to deal with.
In that spirit, Stefano Pioli has decided (by the looks of it) to change the formation of the team. Instead of the 4-3-3 – heavily used by the manager ever since his arrival – he will field a 4-4-2 tomorrow which, if everything works out as expected, should suit the players better.
Although it would probably be needed, there will be no changes in the backline for this game, simply because Pioli doesn’t have any competitive alternatives to field instead. Hopefully, the defenders will keep their focus this time out, as Sampdoria easily could have scored a winner with several chances given to them.
As a result of the formation change, of course, the midfield won’t be what we are used to seeing. Bennacer and Kessie will form the tandem, while Castillejo and Calhanoglu will offer support on either side of them. Suso will be dropped to the bench after his nightmare against Sampdoria.
In attack, Ibrahimovic will be paired up with Leao. The two came on with 35 minutes to go last time out and they seemingly linked up well. With the Swede acting as the focal point, he will be able to make use of the Portuguese youngster’s pace, flicking the long balls towards him.
Likely Cagliari XI (4-3-2-1): Olsen; Farago, Pisacane, Klavan, Pellegrini; Nandez, Cigarini, Rog; Nainggolan, Joao Pedro; Simeone.
Likely AC Milan XI (4-4-2): Donnarumma; Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Castillejo, Kessie, Bennacer, Calhanoglu; Ibrahimovic, Leao.
Historically, the Rossoneri haven’t had many issues with the Sardinia side. In fact, their record is very good against Cagliari, both home and away. However, as I have said so many times already, you just can’t tell this season. Thus far, it’s been hit or miss. Take a look at the top five facts and stats below.
- Cagliari have won only one of their last 31 Serie A meetings against AC Milan (D7 L23): a 2-1 win in May 2017.
- AC Milan have lost only one of their last 15 away games against Cagliari in Serie A (W8 D6), a 1-2 defeat in 2017.
- Cagliari have lost each of their last three league games, after going unbeaten in their previous 13 (W8 D5).
- AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored 11 goals from direct free-kicks in the top-5 European leagues (three in Serie A, one in LaLiga and seven in Ligue 1): the only one of these he scored with the Rossoneri was in January 2012, against Cagliari.
- Cagliari striker Giovanni Simeone has scored five Serie A goals this season, only one fewer than in the whole of the last campaign.
As previously mentioned, it’s really hard to predict the outcome of Milan’s games this season. There is always a feeling – or perhaps we should call it hope – that things will turn around for the red and black side, but it never pans out. Therefore, for this game, I will have to say a draw.
Cagliari 1-1 AC Milan
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