The Christmas break is coming towards an end and Milan are ready to continue what has been a fantastic season thus far. On Sunday evening, they will take on Benevento away from home and the goal is very clear: to preserve their lead at the top of the league standings for at least one more week.
After two consecutive 2-2 draws, against Parma and Genoa, Stefano Pioli’s men managed to pick themselves up with two strong wins since. Most recently, of course, the dramatic clash against Lazio which was settled in stoppage time as Theo Hernandez scored the winner with his head.
Although Inter have won their last seven games in the league, Milan are still in first place and will be looking to keep it like this for as long as possible. It won’t be easy, especially with the injury struggles that never seem to end, but the Rossoneri have shown before that they are up for the task this season.
As we have become used to in the last few months, Pioli will have to deal with a few key injuries. Matteo Gabbia, Ismael Bennacer, Alexis Saelemaekers and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will all miss the game due to injuries, with the Belgian picking up an injury in the game against Lazio just before the break.
Theo Hernandez will also sit in the stands as he’s serving a one-game ban, following the yellow card he received against Lazio. Diogo Dalot will replace him on the left-hand side. On a positive note, though, Simon Kjaer has recovered from his injury and should be able to play from the first minute on Sunday.
Franck Kessie is back from his suspension and will start in the midfield tandem alongside Sandro Tonali, who has improved a lot lately. It’s obviously hard to replace Bennacer, who has been such a key player for Pioli’s side, but the Italian youngster has grown into the Rossoneri’s play and will hopefully improve further.
In the attacking trio, there was some doubt as Samu Castillejo struggled with a minor injury in the last few days. He has been called up but despite this, Brahim Diaz is set to team up with Hakan Calhanoglu and Ante Rebic. The latter scored his first goal of the season last time out and will be looking to continue on this positive path.
Rafael Leao is set to start up front and will have a point to prove, as he wasn’t able to replicate his positive performance against Sassuolo for the encounter with Lazio. Down below is the full probable XIs, as per the newspaper of Gazzetta Dello Sport, which usually is very accurate.
Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Dalot; Tonali, Kessie; Diaz, Calhanoglu, Rebic; Leao.
Probable Benevento XI (4-3-2-1): Montipò; Letizia, Glik, Tuia, Barba; Improta, Schiattarella, Hetemaj; Caprari, Ionita; Lapadula.
- AC Milan have scored at least 2 goals in their last 16 matches (Serie A).
- AC Milan are undefeated in their last 26 matches (Serie A).
- AC Milan have been winning at both half time and full time in 8 of their last 9 away matches (Serie A).
- There have been over 2.5 goals scored in 11 of AC Milan’s last 12 games (Serie A).
- There have been under 2.5 goals scored in Benevento’s last 7 games (Serie A).
Milan are the clear favourites heading into the game, despite what has been a very positive start to the season by Benevento. The return of Kjaer is a big boost for the Rossoneri and they should be able to make it three consecutive wins, which would certainly big a sign of their strength.
We can expect the home side to give Pioli’s men a run for their money, but my prediction is that they will be able to keep a clean sheet despite this. Furthermore, with Ante Rebic finally off the mark, the attackers perhaps won’t need the defender to score the goals for them.
Benevento 0-2 AC Milan
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