Milan could secure their spot in next season’s Champions League tomorrow evening, taking on Cagliari at San Siro. It would save them some trouble as Atalanta are the opponents in the final round, which is a game that is far from a certain win for the Rossoneri. In other words, tomorrow’s clash is crucial.
As Atalanta won against Genoa earlier today, Milan only need three more points to secure their return to the Champions League. And considering the form they are in, it must be said that Cagliari are a side they should beat. Either way, Stefano Pioli’s men have everything in their own hands.
It’s the biggest game in several years for the Rossoneri, which inevitably will come with some pressure, but it’s also a good opportunity to show off their improvement over the last year or so. Getting the job done comfortably tomorrow would be the icing on the cake of what has been a very good season.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic will miss the rest of the season due to his knee injury, which was announced today, and he will follow a six-week recovery plan. He has also withdrawn from playing the Euros with Sweden, meaning he can concentrate on his recovery in peace and prepare for the 2021/22 season with Milan.
In addition to the Swede, Sandro Tonali is also expected to miss out after sustaining an injury in training. He hasn’t quite recovered yet and his presence is in doubt, although he wouldn’t have started anyway. Other than that, Stefano Pioli will be able to rely on a strong squad that is in good form.
There will be just one change to the starting XI as Alexis Saelemaekers is back from suspension, which kept him out against Torino. The Belgian is a key player in Pioli’s Milan and he will replace Samu Castillejo on the right flank, which is indeed an upgrade for the Rossoneri.
Given that the goal difference in the last two games was 10-0, it’s not exactly surprising that the manager has decided to stick with the usual starters, not wanting to jeopardise anything at this point. As for Cagliari, the likes of Gaston Pereiro, Marko Rog and Riccardo Sottil will miss out on the action.
Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Tomori, Hernandez; Bennacer, Kessie; Saelemaekers, Diaz, Calhanoglu; Rebic.
Probable Cagliari XI (3-4-1-2): Cragno; Ceppitelli, Godin, Carboni; Nandez, Marin, Duncan, Lykogiannis; Nainggolan; Joao Pedro, Pavoletti.
- AC Milan have won each of their last 15 home league games against Cagliari – it’s their longest such streak against a single opponent in the competition.
- Cagliari are unbeaten in their last six league matches (W4 D2); the last time they went on a longer such run in Serie A TIM was back in December 2019 (13 under Rolando Maran).
- AC Milan have won each of their last four Serie A TIM games against Cagliari with a 10-0 aggregate score; the last time the Rossoblù found the net against the Rossoneri was back in September 2018 (João Pedro).
- AC Milan’s Simon Kjaer has scored five goals in Serie A TIM, with his latest in the Italian top-flight coming in December 2009 against Cagliari with Palermo.
- João Pedro has scored three goals against AC Milan in Serie A TIM; the Cagliari striker is the top-scoring Brazilian in the last three top five European leagues this season (41 goals, Neymar 36).
As mentioned, Milan are in fantastic form – better than anyone could have imagined a few weeks ago – and this should help them a lot in tomorrow’s game. Sure, there is always the risk of getting too comfortable but Pioli pretty much debunked that hypothesis during his press conference earlier today.
In addition to the positive spell, the Rossoneri have been very successful against Cagliari in the last few years, especially at home. It’s very clear that they are the favourites to win this game, therefore, but maximum concentration will still be needed to pull this off.
AC Milan 3-1 Cagliari