Milan suffered a heavy defeat away at Lazio on Monday evening and are now desperately scrambling for points to make the top four. Taking their schedule into consideration, as well as their rivals’, it won’t be an easy fight for the Rossoneri with just five games to go.
Stefano Pioli isn’t the most popular man right now as the down-fall in 2021 has been horrendous, even for a team with that many injury struggles. Not only are Milan failing to collect the points necessary, but they are also lacking ideas on the pitch and we have seen this recently, failing even with a strong team.
A win against Benevento would thus do them good although it wouldn’t be enough to relax, as they will take on Juventus in the next round. Without a win tomorrow, it might even be possible to rule them out of the Champions League race, which says a lot about the importance of the game.
Pioli will be able to rely on a strong squad for this clash as Zlatan Ibrahimovic is back from his injury. The Swede has obviously been missing and it’s clear that he could help Milan a lot in the attacking department. In other words, as far as the squad goes, the manager has no excuses and will have to get the tactics right.
In defence, Alessio Romagnoli is expected to get a chance from start after fully recovering from his injury. The captain will be eager to prove his worth after Fikayo Tomori and injuries forced him to let go of his starting spot. Tomorrow’s game will give us a good indication of his status.
Some reports have suggested that Ismael Bennacer could be on the bench, as Milan will face Juventus next, but it appears he will play from the first minute anyway. After some poor performances, raising some questions about Sandro Tonali not starting, the Algerian must perform better tomorrow.
In attack, Ibrahimovic is back as already mentioned but there will also be another change, more specifically in the trio. Instead of Ante Rebic, Rafael Leao could get an important chance to show his qualities after receiving a good amount of criticism this season, failing to perform consistently.
At the time of writing, there are some question marks as Simon Kjaer and Davide Calabria had flu symptoms today. However, they should be able to recover and if they can’t, then Fikayo Tomori and Diogo Dalot will start in their place. In other words, Pioli has solid options available.
Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Theo Hernandez; Bennacer, Kessie; Saelemaekers, Calhanoglu, Leao; Ibrahimovic.
Probable Benevento XI (4-3-2-1): Montipo; Depaoli, Glik, Caldirola, Barba; Hetemaj, Viola, Ionita; Insigne, Iago Falque; Lapadula.
- The head-to-head record between Milan and Benevento in Serie A is perfectly balanced, with one win for each side and one draw.
- Milan have suffered two consecutive league defeats and have not recorded three in a row in the competition since September 2019, with Giampaolo on the bench.
- Benevento’s points-per-game ratio has halved from the first part of the season (1.2) to the second part (0.6) – in the second phase of the season they have won only one match out of 14 (1-0 against Juventus).
- With a goal against Benevento, Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic would become the first player to score against 80 different teams in the top five European leagues since 2000.
- Gianluca Lapadula could score a goal in three consecutive Serie A appearances for the first time since November 2019 – the Benevento forward made his Serie A debut with Milan but has never scored against them since leaving the club.
It has to be said every week nowadays: it’s incredibly hard to determine where Milan stand and you can only imagine that the Lazio loss has made it harder. On the one hand, it’s a big blow for the team but it could also act as a wake-up call, given that a top-four finish is now out of their hands.
Having said that, Benevento haven’t been in brilliant form and the reverse fixture is a pretty good symbol of this, as Milan managed to win despite going down to ten men. They should be able to make it 2/2 tomorrow but it won’t be a walk in the park, with maximum concentration needed.
AC Milan 2-0 Benevento