As a result of several key injuries and some bad luck, Milan have only collected two points from the last two games, drawing both 2-2. They had to come back from behind on both occasions, more prone to conceding now after what was an impressive defensive start to the season.
In other words, the Rossoneri need to improve and find their rhythm again, starting with Sunday’s clash against Sassuolo. The latter have started the season very well and are currently in 6th place with 23 points, five points behind the league leaders. This game could change the look of the standings, meaning it’s very important.
For the first time in a few weeks, Milan are at risk of losing their spot at the top, seeing as Inter are just one point behind them. The city rivals will take on Spezia, so the Rossoneri should assume that three points are needed to preserve their lead and regain some form ahead of the Lazio clash.
Since the start of the season, Stefano Pioli’s men have struggled with injuries here and there, above all in defence. Simon Kjaer and Matteo Gabbia will miss the game and this means that Pierre Kalulu could get yet another chance Alessio Romagnoli. On a positive note, Theo Hernandez is back in full training and will be back for the game.
Ismael Bennacer is injured and will also miss the game, with Sandro Tonali keen on proving his qualities alongside Franck Kessie in the midfield tandem. Not a bad replacement, for sure, but Bennacer has been a key player for the Rossoneri this season and his absence has been felt lately.
In the attacking trio, Pioli has almost all of the players available as Alexis Saelemaekers has recovered, making an appearance against Genoa mid-week. The Belgian should start to the right, while Hakan Calhanoglu will keep his spot in the middle. Brahim Diaz or Jens Petter Hauge will get the chance on the left.
Rafael Leao will start up front as Ante Rebic has been left out of the squad due to a foot injury. Hopefully, the Portuguese youngster will get on the scoresheet and regain some confidence after what has been a few negative games. It’s clear that the only thing that can bring his form back is a goal.
Unfortunately, Zlatan Ibrahimovic picked up another injury during the training session on Friday. He will have new tests in ten days and it’s been reported that he will miss at least a month, meaning he won’t be available for the Juventus game. Unless Leao starts performing, it will be necessary to sign a striker in January.
Likely Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Calabria, Kalulu, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Tonali, Kessie; Saelemaekers, Calhanoglu, Diaz (Hauge); Leao.
- After four wins in their first six Serie A matches against Milan (L2), Sassuolo have lost six of their last eight games (D2). The Neroverdi also failed to score in four of their last seven matches against the Rossoneri in the competition, after having found the net in each of their first seven meetings.
- Milan have drawn their last two league games. The last time they went on a longer such streak was in January (three).
- Each of AC Milan’s last nine goals in Serie A have been netted by midfielders (four) or defenders (five) – the last AC Milan’s striker to have found the net is Zlatan Ibrahimovic v Napoli on November 22.
- AC Milan are Domenico Berardi’s favourite opponent in Serie A. He has scored eight goals against the Rossoneri (more than any other current player) in his 12 appearances. However, none of these goals have come in his seven last matches against Milan in the competition.
- Milan are the team with the most goalscorers (five) born from 1/1/1999 in Serie A this season: Pierre Kalulu, Jens Petter Hauge, Brahim Díaz, Rafael Leão and Alexis Saelemaekers.
This won’t be an easy game for Milan, that’s for sure. Even with all of their stars fit and available, it wouldn’t have been easy as Sassuolo have started the season very well. It’s very hard to predict, in other words, especially since the Rossoneri have the players to succeed but many of them are out of form.
Away from home, at Mapei Stadium, with a 3 pm kick-off time just doesn’t sound good for any Milan fan. Therefore, the most likely outcome remains a draw, though it wouldn’t be a surprise if the unbeaten run comes to an end tomorrow.
Sassuolo 1-1 AC Milan