Milan have started the season well with three wins out of three, albeit facing a few smaller teams in the Europa League qualifiers. Those games are known to be tricky, though, and the Rossoneri have certainly managed to build on their impressive form from last season despite several key absences.
Alessio Romagnoli is still recovering from his injury, Ante Rebic has been suspended in the Europa League and Zlatan Ibrahimovic is currently in isolation due to COVID. These are just a few of the blows that Stefano Pioli has had to deal with, highlighting that there is still some work to be done on the transfer market.
However, the players have done well to keep plugging on, relying on the foundations that were built during the second half of last season. Milan finally have a clear identity and this has become evident now that a few key players have been missing. By working together, the same results can still be achieved.
Tomorrow’s game against Crotone will be yet another important indicator as to where the Rossoneri stand, but you can certainly say that it has looked promising thus far. As mentioned, a few more reinforcements are still needed and hopefully, this will be taken care of by Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara.
Ante Rebic is back at Pioli’s disposal after serving his suspension in the Europa League, which is still valid for one more game. The Croatian international is expected to start up front for the Rossoneri, meaning Lorenzo Colombo will be on the bench despite doing so well last time out.
In addition to the No.12, Rafael Leao and Lucas Paqueta are also back in the squad. The former has recovered from COVID and is now working to return to full fitness, while the Brazilian has a lot to prove after Pioli left him out of the last two games as a technical decision.
Given the tight schedule, the manager is expected to make a few changes to the starting eleven. Sandro Tonali and Brahim Diaz, who both arrived earlier this summer, will make their first starts for the club as per Sky Italia. This will give Ismael Bennacer and Samu Castillejo some much-needed rest.
Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1): G. Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Gabbia, Theo; Kessie, Tonali; Brahim Diaz, Calhanoglu, Saelemaekers; Rebic.
Probable Crotone XI (3-5-2): Cordaz; Magallan, Marrone, Golemic; Rispoli, Eduardo, Cigarini, Zanellato, Molina; Messias; Simy.
- AC Milan are unbeaten in each of their four Serie A matches against Crotone (W3 D1).
- AC Milan are unbeaten in their last 13 league games (W10 D3), the longest current run in Serie A; it’s the Rossoneri’s longest run since April 2013 (14 games).
- Stefano Pioli has picked up 27 points in his first 15 Serie A away matches as Milan manager; the only Rossoneri coach to have collected more points (31) in his first 15 matches away from home in the three-point/win era was Massimiliano Allegri.
- AC Milan is the team against which Luca Cigarini has scored the most goals in Serie A (two, level to Inter), scoring with Napoli and Atalanta. His next appearance in Serie A will be his 350th in the competition.
- AC Milan will meet a Calabrian team within the first two matches of a single Serie A season only for the second time; the other instance was also against Crotone in the first match of 2017/18 (a 3-0 win).
On paper, this game should be easier than the one against Bologna. Then again, you could have said the same about Thursday’s Europa League clash against Bodo/Glimt. Therefore, it will be important for Milan not to underestimate their opponents, focusing on the task at hand. Sadly, though, I think they will concede.
Crotone 1-3 Milan
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