Third time’s the charm, right? This evening, Stefano Pioli will look to grab his first win with the Rossoneri, having collected just one point from his first two games in charge. However, given how poor the team has performed as of late, it certainly won’t be an easy task.
The defeat against Roma last weekend highlighted Milan’s main issue: individual mistakes. Both of the Giallorossi’s goals were created by Pioli’s men, who could have conceded more if the home side had been a bit more composed. For the Rossoneri faithful, it was painful to watch, as the players threw away the game.
As a result of the most recent outing, Pioli is expected to make four significant changes to the line-up, hoping to get a reaction from his squad this evening. In defence, he will experiment with a new solution, putting Duarte at the right-back position. Most likely, this means that they will play with a back-three when in possession.
Calabria and Conti have failed to impress on the right flank and you can understand Pioli’s decision. However, it remains to be seen if it will be an improvement, although it’s certain that Hernandez will get even more freedom to move forward down the left-hand side.
Further up the pitch, Bennacer will finally get the nod ahead of Biglia. The latter has been the preferred starter under both Giampaolo and Pioli. Therefore, it will be an important opportunity for the young Algerian to prove his worth this evening, expected to add a more dynamic touch to the midfield.
Just like the initial report suggested this week, Suso will be on the bench for the first time this season. The Spaniard hasn’t been able to replicate his performances from last season, failing to find the back of the net in the first nine games. Instead, Pioli will opt for Castillejo, who isn’t exactly a fan favourite either. However, it might be enough to motivate Suso to try harder.
In addition to the former Liverpool man, Leao will also start tonight’s clash on the bench. The Portuguese striker has been one of the few highlights for Milan thus far. However, since being moved to the centre-forward role, he has struggled to get his finishing right. Therefore, Piatek will play from the first minute this evening, ready to build on his goal against Lecce.
Likely AC Milan XI (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Duarte, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Paqueta, Bennacer, Kessie; Castillejo, Piatek, Calhanoglu.
At this point, we can’t rely too much on stats. The Rossoneri have been consistently poor at the start of the season and of course, this matters a lot more than what happened last campaign, when they were actually quite good. Down below is a list of the top five facts and stats about the fixture, so make what you will from it.
- SPAL have won only one of their 36 Serie A encounters against AC Milan (2.8%): their lowest win percentage against a single opponent in the competition (min. 6 games played).
- AC Milan have lost only one of their last five Serie A games played on a Thursday (W2 D2), whilst they have been managed by five different managers in this run.
- AC Milan have lost five games in Serie A this season (W3, D1), only twice in their history have they lost six of their opening 10 league games of a season: in 1938/39 and in 1941/42.
- Franck Kessié has scored three goals in four Serie A appearances against SPAL, including a brace back in May: against no side has he scored more in the competition.
- Andrea Petagna made his Serie A debut with Milan in August 2013, against Verona – he scored in his last league game against Milan at San Siro (December 2018).
Normally, Milan would be the favourites in this fixture, and they still probably are to some extent. However, an upset certainly can’t be ruled out, given how the Rossoneri have performed as of late. That said, though, I think that Pioli will be able to claim his first three points by a narrow margin.
AC Milan 1-0 SPAL