After two consecutive defeats in the league, as well as two draws in Europa League, Milan will take on Roma away from home tomorrow evening. It’s a big opportunity for Stefano Pioli’s men, who with a win would regain some much-needed confidence and secure more safety standings-wise.
It hasn’t been easy for the Rossoneri in recent weeks and it’s clear that a reaction is needed, not just for themselves but also to calm down the fans. After sitting in first place for so long, while continuing to play well, it’s certainly normal that the reactions are strong when performances suddenly drop. Especially when they drop like this.
The game tomorrow, therefore, is important on so many levels for Milan and a win could set them up for what will be a demanding period. Of course, the nightmare would be yet another defeat as it would be very hard to bounce back from that. Nevertheless, a reaction is needed from the Rossoneri.
Milan have just three first-team players on the injury list, one of which hasn’t really played much this season. That is Daniel Maldini, who was promoted from the Primavera side ahead of the season. In addition to him, Ismael Bennacer and Mario Mandzukic are also injured and updates on them will arrive early next week.
According to multiple outlets, Pioli will revert to the XI he used against Inter in the derby, thus relying on the usual starters. Alessio Romagnoli has been heavily criticised by the fans in recent weeks, but as the captain, he will get another chance to prove that he still deserves his starting spot in the back four.
Sandro Tonali was rested against Red Star Belgrade but will return to the starting XI for tomorrow’s clash, partnering up with Franck Kessie in the midfield tandem. Ahead of them, Alexis Saelemaekers, Hakan Calhanoglu and Ante Rebic will form the attacking trio, with the latter currently ahead of Rafael Leao.
That leaves just Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has made the headlines recently as he will be present at the Sanremo Music Festival next week. Therefore, he will have a point to prove, more specifically that it won’t affect his commitment on the pitch. Us Milan fans, of course, already know this by now.
Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Kessie, Tonali; Saelemaekers, Calhanoglu, Rebic; Ibrahimovic.
As for Roma, they will be without their star striker Edin Dzeko, who got injured in their Europa League clash on Thursday. The likes of Chris Smalling and Ibanez will also miss out, which means that it could be a makeshift backline with Bryan Cristante as the deep-lying centre-back.
Probable Roma XI (3-4-2-1): Pau Lopez; Mancini, Cristante, Fazio; Karsdorp, Villar, Veretout, Spinazzola; Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan; Mayoral.
- After the 3-3 draw in the reverse fixture, AC Milan and AS Roma could draw both Serie A games in a season for the first time since the 1999/2000 campaign.
- AS Roma won their last Serie A home meeting against AC Milan: the last manager to win two successive league matches at home against them was Fabio Capello in 2003.
- AC Milan could lose three Serie A matches in a row without scoring for the first time since April 1967.
- AS Roma’s Jordan Veretout has scored nine Serie A goals this season: he could become the first French midfielder to score 10+ goals in a single campaign in the Top-5 European Leagues since 2018/19 (Pogba, Thauvin and Oudin).
- AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic has failed to score in two successive Serie A appearances: since his return to the club in January 2020, only once has he gone goalless in three league games in a row (against Napoli, Parma and Bologna in July 2020).
The reverse fixture ended 3-3 after Milan squandered a lead three times and the feeling is that this game will be tight as well. Certainly, taking their form into consideration, the Rossoneri are considered the underdogs for this clash and they need to up their game a lot to bring something back to Milan.
Having said that, Roma have struggled against the top-six sides this season and this could be a determining factor in tomorrow’s game. In fact, they have only collected three points from these games (2L, 3D). Considering that they are fighting for a top-four finish, that certainly isn’t good enough.
Roma 1-2 AC Milan
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