After kicking off their season on Thursday with the Europa League clash against Shamrock Rovers, Milan are now preparing for what will be – as always – an interesting league opener. Bologna will visit the San Siro and for Stefano Pioli’s men, it will be important to start on the right foot.
The Rossoneri comfortably secured their spot in the third round of the Europa League qualifiers, beating Shamrock Rovers with minimum effort. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Calhanoglu picked up where they left off last season and combined very well throughout the game, both getting on the scoresheet.
That being said, it’s clear that the players haven’t reached full fitness yet and it will be interesting to see tomorrow’s game in this sense. The situation is the same for Bologna, of course, and there is not much more the managers can do with the little time they got for the pre-season preparations.
Milan will have to do without their captain Alessio Romagnoli, who is expected to be back in action towards the end of this month. Mateo Musacchio is also injured and this means that Matteo Gabbia will team up with Simon Kjaer in the defence, as we saw for the final games of last season.
The youngster, Gabbia that is, looked promising last term but hasn’t had the best of starts to this season. Playing in a three-man backline with Italy’s U21 side, the 20-year-old looked very uncomfortable and this seems to have affected his performances with Milan as well. It’s just a confidence thing, though, I’m sure.
Ante Rebic is back in the squad after missing the Europa League clash due to his three-game ban in the competition. He’s expected to start on the left-wing tomorrow, where Alexis Saelemaekers didn’t exactly impress last time out. Rafael Leao is still in quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19 and will miss the game.
Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Gabbia, Hernandez; Kessie, Bennacer; Castillejo, Calhanoglu, Rebic; Ibrahimovic.
Probable Bologna XI (4-2-3-1): Skorupski; De Silvestri, Danilo, Tomiyasu, Dijks; Poli, Dominguez; Orsolini, Soriano, Barrow; Palacio.
- AC Milan have won eight of their last nine Serie A matches against Bologna (D1), including the most recent three.
- AC Milan have lost their opening game in each of the last two Serie A seasons, while they have never previously lost in three consecutive seasons in the top-flight.
- In opening games of the season within the top five European leagues, AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been involved in 14 goals in 15 such appearances (10 goals and four assists)
- Bologna’s Nicola Sansone has netted four goals against AC Milan in Serie A (including one in the league last season) – against no other side has he scored more in the competition.
- Since Serie A resumed in June, AC Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu has been involved in more goals than any other player in Serie A (14 goals – six goals and eight assists)
When Milan faced Bologna two months ago, they enjoyed a goal-fest at San Siro and easily claimed the three points with a 5-1 scoreline. Pioli opted for Saelemaekers and Romagnoli instead of Castillejo and Gabbia back then, but other than that the starting eleven was the same.
Yes, it’s a new season and Sinisa Mihajlovic’s side are arguably better than what we saw in July, but the feeling is that the Rossoneri will win. My guess is that they will play well but perhaps not create as many chances as last time out.
AC Milan 1-0 Bologna