Bologna vs. AC Milan: Team news, stats and prediction

Following the confident, albeit narrow, win against Parma, AC Milan are gearing up to take on Bologna away from home on Sunday evening. For the Rossoneri, three points is more or less a must, considering where they currently sit in the league standings. 

Stefano Pioli’s men did very well last time out, dominating the game from start to finish. However, they lacked composure in the final third and as a result of this, they won by just 1-0. Hopefully, they have practised their shooting, heading into the 15th round of Serie A action.

TEAM NEWS

Don’t fix what isn’t broken. This seems to be the thought in Pioli’s head, as he won’t make any changes to the starting eleven, at least according to the latest reports. Given how well they performed against Parma, you can certainly understand the manager, as consistency also is important for the players.

Milan conceded an impressive zero shots on target against the Gialloblu, which the defence deserves praise for. Hopefully, they can build on the strong display, preventing the opponents from finding the back of the net once again. Theo Hernandez will start on the left, of course, having scored the winner last time out.

Despite rumours of Rade Krunic replacing Franck Kessie in the midfield, the latter will keep his spot in the starting eleven. After a slow start with the red and black shirt, Bennacer has certainly picked himself out, cementing his spot in the holding midfield role. Italian veteran Bonaventura will complete the trio.

In attack, Kris Piatek will get yet another chance to break his goal drought. Of course, this decision hasn’t been received too well among the Rossoneri faithful, who would like to see Rafael Leao instead. However, Pioli defended the Polish international during today’s press conference, which indicates that he will start.

Likely Milan XI (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Conti, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Theo Hernandez; Kessie, Bennacer, Bonaventura; Suso, Piatek, Calhanoglu.

STATS

As you would expect, Milan are the favourites in this fixture. In fact, the Rossoneri have been very successful against the Renato Dall’Ara side in recent history. Take a look at the top five facts and stats down below.

  • AC Milan have only lost one of their last 19 Serie A meetings against Bologna (W13 D5), a 0-1 defeat in January 2016 under Sinisa Mihajlovic (with Roberto Donadoni in charge of the Rossoblu).
  • Bologna’s last Serie A victory against AC Milan was back in March 2002; since then, nine wins for the Rossoneri and four draws.
  • AC Milan, who won their last league game against Parma, are looking to win back-to-back Serie A games for only the second time this season (between August and September against Brescia and Verona)
  • AC Milan have gained just 17 points this term, no side has ended the season in the top-4 of the table with 17 points or less at this stage of the Italian top-flight (three points for a win era).
  • Bologna have lost the highest points from leading situations in Serie A this season (10) – indeed, they only lost 13 such points through the whole of the 2018/19 campaign.

 

PREDICTION

Milan seem to be on the up. In recent weeks, they have performed well, showing all the right signs. Against Parma, they finally got paid for all of their hard work. Therefore, their confidence will be pretty good ahead of this game, which should be relatively easy for Pioli’s men. Even if it turns out to be very tough, they should manage to grab the three points.

Bologna 0-2 AC Milan 

Parma 0-1 AC Milan: Hernandez rewards the Rossoneri in the dying minutes

AC Milan managed to get back to winning ways as Hernandez came up big for the Rossoneri, scoring his third goal of the season. However, it certainly wasn’t easy for Pioli’s men, as their lack of composure in the final third was painful to watch this afternoon. 

The Rossoneri started the first half really well, looking like a much better team than what we have seen in the last few weeks. After just two minutes, they created their first chance as Piatek did well to find Calhanoglu in the box. The Turkish international struck it well, but the goalkeeper didn’t have to intervene as it went wide. Continue reading

Parma vs. AC Milan: Team news, stats and prediction

After an impressive 1-1 draw against Napoli, AC Milan will be looking to build on that display as they take on Parma in the 14th round. However, even though the performance was good last weekend, it still didn’t give the Rossoneri what they so desperately need: three points. 

Thanks to the point, Pioli’s men went from 14th to 13th place in the standings, but there is still a long way to go. As the winter break is just four games away, it would be good to finish off the first half of the season strong. In Milan’s case, it might be better to replace good with necessary in that sentence.

TEAM NEWS

Compared to the game against Napoli, Pioli will have a few more players at his disposal. In addition to Bennacer and Calhanoglu, who are back from suspension, the likes of Borini, Castillejo and Suso have recovered from their respective injury struggles.

Given that they did perform well against Napoli, the manager will be looking to make as few changes as possible, and this shows in the probable line-ups that have been reported in the media as of late. In fact, there won’t be any changes in the defence, as Conte remains ahead of Calabria in the pecking order.

In the middle, on the other hand, we will see some rotation, mostly because Bennacer and Calhanoglu are back. According to Sky Italia, Paqueta isn’t fully fit and could miss out on the game, likely to be replaced by the Turkish international (who usually plays on the wing). Krunic or Kessie will complete the trio.

As a result of this, Bonaventura looks set to keep his spot on the left-wing, which really shouldn’t even have been a question given how crucial he was for the Rossoneri against Napoli. Once again, Piatek will get another chance to redeem himself from a very poor start, hoping to get the right service from the Italian and Suso.

Likely AC Milan (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Conti, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Calhanoglu, Bennacer, Krunic (Kessie); Suso, Piatek, Bonaventura.

STATS

As you can imagine, Milan are clear favourites to win this game, at least based on the stats. Then again, their start to the season has been far from good, which makes it hard to justify their position with numbers that are based on previous season (during which they have done well, most of the time). Down below are the top five facts and stats.

  • Milan have found the net in each of their last 12 Serie A meetings against Parma: the Rossoneri have won eight of those matches (D2 L2).
  • Parma have won four of their seven league games at Tardini Stadium this season (L3) – in the 21st century only twice have they won more games at this stage of the season at home in Serie A.
  • Milan have picked up only one point in their last three games, they could go four league games without a win for the first time this season.
  • Milan have lost the most points (six) with goals conceded in the last 20 minutes of play in Serie A this season. Parma are yet to lose a point during this period of play.
  • Giacomo Bonaventura has been directly involved in three goals in his last three Serie A games against Parma (two goals, one assist).

 

PREDICTION

Even though I got last week’s prediction right (1-1 against Napoli), it’s very tough to get things right with Milan this season. Under Giampaolo, it was more or less impossible to understand the team’s form, but I must admit that Pioli has managed to shake things up. With that in mind, although tomorrow’s game will be tough, the Rossoneri should be able to grab the win.

Parma 1-2 AC Milan

Lazio’s sensational form is no coincidence – they’ve fixed two long-standing issues

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Nothing beats a late winner.

That’s what Lazio have learned lately, most recently when Felipe Caicedo swivelled his hips and fired a shot into the bottom corner to snatch victory at Sassuolo last weekend.

It was a crucial goal, one that saw the capital club pull two points clear of Roma and Cagliari in third place and continue their outstanding domestic form with a fifth consecutive Serie A victory.

But after the dust settled, there was another great positive to take from the game. Continue reading

Questions that will shape January Transfer Window in Serie A

Will there be enough playing time at Inter to tempt Kulusevski?

Serie A’s breakout player of the season had a clear vision for what he wanted to get out of the 2019/20 season after excelling in Atalanta’s youth system- his priority was to play regularly at professional level on a team that could get the most out of him. Parma checked all of the boxes and there’s no doubt the Swedish midfielder has made the most out of the opportunity in the first third of the season.

So while Inter are rather interested in bringing him in January as a way to bolster Conte’s squad while anticipating the competition for such an exciting asset, It remains to be seen if Kulusevski is willing to take a gamble and leave a team where he can start every game rest of the way.

 Inter would likely be able to convince Parma to let him go by offering a player or two (Politano and or Di Marco) especially since they are also interested in signing his teammate Darmian. Atalanta have made numerous deals with Inter in recent years and would be more than happy to make a significant capital gain on a player currently not on their squad.

Will Milan desperately need more experience?

Except for the dreadful match against Lazio, overall Milan have looked better under new manager Pioli but the results are still lacking. Certainly a point against Napoli under normal circumstances would be nothing to sneeze at, but considering that the partenopei are dealing with as much chaos as the guest on the birthday party featured on “Parasite, maybe a bit more was to be expected especially when you consider Milan’s position in the standings.

Does the fact that the rossoneri are much closer to the relegation zone than a spot in European competitions next season give them more urgency to bring in some veterans to get the team on track? Or does Milan see this as a lost season standing wise where the focus is just to develop their young players as long as there’s no danger of a shocking relegation? The next few games will likely determine this.

Will Juventus be forced to integrate more of their surplus players?

The bianconeri spent the last few weeks of the summer transfer window trying to offload veterans to lower their enormous wage bill. Their inability to get it done forced them to exclude Emre Can and Mario Mandzukic from their Champions League list, while new addition Adrien Rabiot has struggled so much to find consistent playing time that there’s talk he could be sold in 2019.

But considering the age of Juventus’ squad, there’s chance some injury or Sarri coming to his senses with Khedira that we could see a fairly significant radical change in the pecking order. But if the status quo remains, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Can, Mandzukic and Perin all leaving in January as Juventus tries to lower their wage bill before the end of their fiscal year. 

Will Napoli be able to start cleaning house in January?

“If things didn’t end badly, they wouldn’t end at all” is how you can sum up Mertens and Callejon’s current situation. The two pillars of the club dating back to the Benitez administration have expiring contracts, and even before the squad mutiny and public threats of lawsuits from De Laurentiis, it seemed rather likely this would be their final season under the Vesuvius.

Napoli have to figure out if making a push for a Champions League spot is worth it and if Mertens and Callejon can help them get there at the cost of losing them for nothing in June. Two summer acquisitions have also the chance to make the decision easier- Lozano and Elmas could become Mertens and Callejon’s permanent replacements sooner rather than later. 

Will Roma get enough of a boost from their returning players? Will they need to make some January signings?

Adriano Galliani would be in heaven if he were in charge at Roma- with so many key players returning from injury in recent weeks (Under, Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan, Cristante to just name a few) he could tell us how he doesn’t need to do any work in January because there are so many players who feel like new additions. 

You have to hand it to Fonseca, the fact that he kept Roma right in the mix for a Champions League spot despite a catastrophic spell of injuries is rather impressive. But does the fact that so many are coming back make sporting director Petrachi less likely to make moves in January? At the beginning of the season center back looked like a massive need, but Smalling has arguably been best new addition in Serie A and Mancini has established himself after a slow start, and his ability to play in the midfield gives Fonseca even more options on top of all the players returning from injury.

With Florenzi itching to get more regular playing time in light of the upcoming Euros, Petrachi will however be very active on the wing back marker with Hysaj as a logical target. Roma could also use another striker because Kalinic has not surprisingly not made an impact and Dzeko showed signs of slowing down after a very fast start.

Will the battle to avoid relegation make it impossible for Udinese to move Rodrigo De Paul?

The Friulani are just 3 points above the relegation and are still waiting to name the permanent replacement for manager Tudor who was sacked a few weeks ago. Can they afford to consider losing their best player in January considering their place in the standings? This is the decision Genoa had to make last year with Piatek, and while on one hand Preziosi got a great return on a striker who is really struggling now, the team had to wait until the conclusion of the final match of season to avoid relegation.

While De Paul did sign an extension about a month ago, Udinese sporting director Marino did recently state the club doesn’t have the resources to turn down a huge offer for him. The Argentine international has been linked to Inter, Napoli and Fiorentina.

AC Milan 1-1 Napoli: Bonaventura rescues the Rossoneri from all-time low

After two consecutive defeats, AC Milan at least managed to avoid a third as they claimed one point in the game against Napoli at the San Siro. However, it wasn’t the result that Pioli so badly needed, as the Rossoneri are still struggling in the bottom half of the standings. 

On the other hand, it was a good result against a side that Milan historically have had problems with. Then again, that doesn’t mean much as they desperately need to turn the situation around, although this result will surely give the players some sort of confidence boost ahead of Parma next week. Continue reading

AC Milan vs. Napoli: Team news, stats and prediction

The international break has come to an end (finally) and AC Milan are gearing up to take on Napoli at the San Siro on Saturday evening. After a positive display against Juventus which, however, resulted in a loss, the Rossoneri will be looking to grab the three points this time out. 

Pioli’s side are currently sitting in 14th place in the standings, having claimed just 13 points in the first 12 games of the season. Of course, the manager didn’t start the campaign with the club, but there hasn’t been a significant improvement since he arrived either.

Therefore, the game against Napoli will be very important, as now is the time to exit the crisis and make sense of the season. In short, they certainly need to bounce back even without the necessary reinforcements, as it might be too late after the January transfer window.

TEAM NEWS

For Pioli, it might be tough to replicate the performance against Juventus, as three of the players who played from start will miss this game. Bennacer, Borini, Calhanoglu, Castillejo, Duarte and Rodriguez are all excluded from the squad the list. On the other hand, Kessie and Musacchio are back after missing out on the game in Turin.

According to today’s edition of Gazzetta Dello Sport, Pioli has opted to just make the necessary changes, which you can understand given that three changes are already a lot. Coming off what might have been their best display of the season, it would be foolish to try and tweak too much.

Musacchio will slot in at the back alongside Romagnoli, having just returned from the injury that paved the way for Duarte in the first place. Other than that, the defence will remain intact, with Conti and Hernandez occupying the flanks. It will be interesting to see how they can cope with Napoli’s speed on the counter-attacks.

Per the newspaper, Biglia will play in the holding midfield role, as he is the natural replacement for the suspended Bennacer. Just like against Juventus, Paqueta and Krunic will offer support to the regista on each side. The two performed very well at the Allianz Stadium and further cemented their respective spot in the starting eleven.

Tonight’s clash will be a big chance for Piatek to prove the management wrong, as there have been rumours of a potential loan exit in January. Hopefully, he can build on his goal for Poland during the international break. Suso and Bonaventura will offer support on the flanks, with the latter replacing the suspended Calhanoglu.

AC Milan (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Conti, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Theo Hernandez; Paquetà, Biglia, Krunic; Suso, Piatek, Bonaventura.

STATS

In recent years, the Rossoneri have struggled against Napoli. Therefore, fans shouldn’t get their hopes up too much, although they have beaten the Partenopei under worse circumstances. Down below are the top five facts and stats for the game, provided by Opta.

  • Milan have won none of the last four matches at Meazza against Napoli in Serie A (D2 L2): their longest winless streak on home soil against Napoli since the ‘80s.
  • Napoli have lost just one of their last 16 matches against Milan in Serie A (W9 D6): a 0-2 defeat in December 2014, whilst Milan were managed by Filippo Inzaghi.
  • Milan have lost seven of their opening 12 matches in a Serie A season, for the first time since 1941/42: Milan have never lost eight of their first 13 matches in the league.
  • Napoli striker Lorenzo Insigne has scored six goals against Milan in Serie A, against no side has he scored more.
  • Napoli (9 pts fewer) and Milan (8 pts fewer) both have fewer points than at this stage last season.

 

PREDICTION

Milan, and Napoli as well to some extent, can’t afford to lose tonight’s encounter. Therefore, it should be an exciting clash, which hopefully can result in three points for Pioli’s men. The game against Juventus certainly sparked some hope, although they will need to be very focused to replicate that performance. Given that both sides are struggling, I would say that a draw is a fair prediction.

AC Milan 1-1 Napoli

Time for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to wake up from hibernation and join in the fun at Lazio

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Lazio passed their autumn test with flying colours.

A demanding run of league fixtures between the October and November international breaks, interspersed with Europa League outings, promised to be the make-or-break moment of the season for Simone Inzaghi’s side after a mixed start.

It’s safe to say that taking 13 points from a possible 15 in games against Atalanta, Fiorentina, Torino, Milan and Lecce exceeded expectations.

Not only that, but it left the Biancocelesti in third place, albeit on goal difference, restoring their Champions League dream. Continue reading

Zlatan Ibrahimovic being linked to Liverpool tells you how great a player he is

At 38 Zlatan Ibrahimovic should be looking back at his career and hanging his boots up. He has had a fantastic time in  football won multiple trophies and scored tons of great goals. He is Sweden’s best ever player and has earned a fortune in the game, and yet he wants another challenge.

Zlatan as he is commonly known by has left LA Galaxy after 2 seasons where he didn’t win a trophy but was involved in some memorable games, so good that LA fans took him to their hearts. He also scored plenty of goals, 53 in all competitions for the Galaxy in just 58 games, and he ended his time this season with 30 goals from 29 games. Now whilst might say that the MLS is not a top league, to do what he is doing at 38 is still quite remarkable and one is reminded of another great sport athlete in Roger Federer whose body refuses to give up.

Even at this age when Ibrahimovic  announced he was leaving the Galaxy a whole host of elite teams from Europe threw their name in the hat. He has been linked with a return back to PSG and AC Milan. In the Premier League his former club Manchester United have shown some interest and then there is Liverpool in first place and looking for their first title since 1990. Ibrahimovic has an incredible record of going to different clubs and winning league titles and for that Liverpool could suit him.

Possibly though the front runners are AC Milan. Ibrahimovic has a special relationship not just with the club but also in Italy where he has also played for Juventus and Inter Milan. The truth is at Milan Ibrahimovic would get more game time and could well be drafted into the first team. One would feel that at a club like Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp isn’t going to upset the apple cart and chop and change his forward line to accommodate the Swedish star. Instead Zlatan would be used as a super sub and in cup games, is that what he would want? Again his qualities on the pitch over the years have earned him that choice.

What will be fascinating as Ibrahimovic returns to Europe is can he still get goals at a higher level? He has scored 30 in his final season in the MLS and it would be interesting to see if he can keep some sort of consistency. The biggest factor being is that his professionalism and attitude is paving the way for strikers to continue on to their very late 30′s and maybe even 40′s. Now that is football evolution.

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AC Milan should bring back Ibrahimovic – Three reasons why

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of talk about a potential return to Serie A for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Just a few days ago, the Swede confirmed that he won’t renew his contract with LA Galaxy, which of course fueled the rumours in question.

Multiple Serie A clubs have shown their interest in the player, from his former side Milan to the underdogs Bologna. Recently, though, it seems the Rossoneri have overtaken the competitors in the race.

For many, it’s a no-brainer, but should the Rossoneri bring back the big man ahead of the second half of the season? In my opinion, the management has a great opportunity on the table, and down below are three reasons why they should sign the 38-year-old.

1. Goals, goals, goals…

At the start of the season, Milan have struggled to find the back of the net, bagging just 11 goals in 12 games. Many have blamed this on their style of play, but the problem has remained even after Pioli replaced Giampaolo. Therefore, it’s clear that they need some new energy.

Even though he’s older than he was during his last spell at the club, Ibrahimovic still knows how to score. And yes, MLS clearly isn’t as good as Serie A, but the Swede scored some spectacular goals with LA Galaxy to prove that he’s still got it.

The bottom line is that he will guarantee goals (hopefully) for the Rossoneri, who are in desperate need of it to turn the negative situation around. Furthermore, he should be able to raise the overall quality of Milan’s attack.

2. His experience is vital

Ibrahimovic has played on the highest level for a very long time now, and his experience would arguably be very useful for Milan. It also helps that he’s been at Milan before, as he knows the environment and what the club expects from the players.

It’s been said before, but the Rossoneri’s squad is simply too young for the time being. They need some experienced figures, and bringing in Zlatan will get them a long way. Above all, he will certainly raise the bar in the team, pushing the players to the max.

You can ask any of his former teammates, but they will all say the same. Ibrahimovic is just as important off the pitch as he is on it, constantly letting the players know about the demands in place.

3. It would be no holiday for ‘Ibra’

Should the deal go through, then it’s safe to say that it won’t be a holiday for the big Swede. He knows this, and after spending some time in the MLS, he will want to show his best side to the European crowd as well. Challenges drive the striker, which is perfect in this situation.

No doubt, he will be eager to prove that he can still do well at the top. Turning Milan around would certainly be a great testament to this. Therefore, the Rossoneri should sign him before it’s too late.

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