Juventus-Frosinone: the Bianconeri quickly bounced back in Sassuolo after the 3-3 draw with Parma and have won four times in the last five fixtures, fortifying their lead in the standings. The Ciociari have been pesky recently and they are coming off a surprise win over Sampdoria, their second in a row on the road, and they are now within striking distance from the 17th spot. With Champions League just around the corner, Cristiano Ronaldo might be rested for the second time in Serie A, which would mean more scoring opportunities for Mario Mandzukic, Federico Bernardeschi and Paulo Dybala, or whoever will compose the front-line. Continue reading
AC Milan managed to beat Cagliari at the San Siro earlier this evening, completely dominating the opponents for a majority of the game. In fact, the Rossoneri set a new record for the number of shots on goal under Gattuso (11), which ultimately resulted in a 3-0 win.
Once again, the new boys Paqueta and Piatek proved to be the difference the Rossoneri have searched for. The first goal, however, was gifted by the away side’s captain, Ceppitelli, whose touch on Cragno’s rebound put Milan in front. The lead was then extended just ten minutes later as Calabria’s wonderful cross was met by Paqueta at the back post, with the Brazilian making no mistakes on the volley.
Of course, Krzysztof Piatek couldn’t leave the pitch without getting on the scoresheet. As luck would have it, after a scrappy situation, the Polish striker was at the right place at the right time, putting the game to bed with Milan’s third goal. Down below are three things we learned from this important win.
1. Calabria proving his qualities amidst all the debate
Davide certainly had a great game at right-back, further proving why he should be given the nod ahead of Conti, who’s a bit of a fan favourite. Defensively, the 22-year-old was absolutely flawless, closing down the right flank on numerous occasions.
When going forward, he wasn’t too shabby either. As previously mentioned, he was responsible for a beautiful assist to Paqueta, and he could’ve had a goal himself. However, Cragno just about claimed it after a nice flick by Calabria which beat the defender.
2. Paqueta once again crucial in every aspect
Since arriving, the Brazilian has started all of the games, which in itself is a sign of strength. Rightfully so, he’s been given the chance and boy has he taken it. Today’s game was no exception, as the midfielder continued to perform in the defence, midfield and attack.
His ability to link up with his new teammates, especially Calhanoglu, has quite frankly been stunning. This evening, he also got a goal to show for his efforts, making it all look so easy. Moving forward, he will continue to be crucial for Gattuso’s side.
3. Donnarumma’s 150th appearance – another clean sheet
Gigio, who’s arguably been the best Milan player in the last few weeks, made his 150th appearance (all comps) for the club this evening. Having kept 51 clean sheets ahead of the game, the Rossoneri defenders helped him add yet another to this tally.
Luckily for Milan, the number 99 has seemingly returned to consistently putting in great performances, as was further proven today. The defenders didn’t play poorly by any means, but their goalkeeper was called into action a few times, and he did everything right.
Overall, it was a great display by the entire team, and Gattuso should be happy with the efforts ahead of the important clash with Atalanta next weekend.
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The next Serie A round will start very early, on Thursday, and stretch throughout the weekend.
Lazio-Empoli: it was not necessarily pretty, but the Biancocelesti returned to winning ways against Frosinone after three unsatisfactory results and now are in the fifth spot, tied with Roma and Atalanta, one point away from Champions League. The Azzurri came back against Chievo, collecting the second draw in the last three fixtures after a slew of losses, but behind them Bologna have gotten closer. The Biancocelesti are really banged up and, considering the minuscule turnaround, there is growing pessimism about the presence of Ciro Immobile and Luis Alberto, who got hurt on Monday. Joaquin Correa should be able to play and in this scenario he and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic become very attractive fantasy assets and Felipe Caicedo could be a cheap plug considering he has scored in the last round. Valon Berisah and Riza Durmisi might be unlikely protagonists. Continue reading
There were a couple of compelling and down-to-the-wire matches in this round, but the most anticipated one did not disappoint, even though it was not the highest scoring one, so Roma-Milan gets the shout-out.
Roma were coming off four hellish days, as they wasted a three-nothing lead against Atalanta in Serie A play and more importantly were smoked by Fiorentina in Coppa Italia. The vultures have started gathering over Eusebio Di Francesco’s head, even though the recent results were actually fine, but obviously a 1-7 loss in a big black eye. Quite the opposite for Milan, who immediately reaped the benefits on their investment on Krzysztof Piatek, who carried them past Napoli in the domestic cup, and had tied with the Azzurri in the previous round. Continue reading
Napoli-Sampdoria: the Partenopei had a disappointing two-game meeting with Milan, as they did not manage to beat them in the weekend and then got got in Coppa Italia. They are undefeated at home, where they have won four games in a row, often scoring multiple goals. The Blucerchiati are coming off a thumping against Udinese, their fourth W in the last six fixtures and they lost only to Juventus since the beginning of December. While Lorenzo Insigne is stuck in a prolonged drought, Arek Milik has done most of the damage for the Azzurri up front, with Dries Mertens chipping in from time to time and some contribution from José Callejon, Marek Hamsik and Piotr Zielinski, but not in a consistent way. Continue reading
Sampdoria-Udinese: the Blucerchiati were pipped at the post in Florence last week, in a game that turned on its head a thousand times. They have won three straight at home. After three positive, or semi-positives, results Udinese took a tumble at home against Parma. They have managed to prevail just once on the road thus far. Fabio Quagliarella has found the target in ten straight appearances and is one shy of tying the record, so he is obviously a must-start, considering that the match-up is not that hard. Gaston Ramirez is suspended, so Riccardo Saponara will draw the start and could be worth a look. Even Jakub Jankto showed some life in the last game, but Karol Linetty might be able to return in the midfield. Continue reading
Serie A returned in full force with a gorgeous weekend of football. Here are the top performers.
Samir Handanovic (7 points): just five clean sheets in this round, by Inter, Sassuolo, Milan, Juventus and Atalanta. The veteran goalie had the best showing, denying two close range attempts by Kevin-Prince Boateng and Jeremie Boga to preserve the tie. Gianluca Donnarumma was not far behind.
Gianluca Mancini (9 points): he has already scored five goals thus far, which is more than most midfielders. He added a new wrinkle on Sunday, as he did not do damage on a set piece, but simply followed an offensive action by his side, then his teammates fed him with a solid cross. Continue reading
This evening, AC Milan will take on Sampdoria in the Coppa Italia round of 16, kicking off the second half of the season. However, it will not only be important to get the win in order to advance, but also to gain confidence ahead of the Supercup final against Juve on Wednesday.
Gattuso’s men ended 2018 with a crucial 2-1 win over SPAL, putting themselves back in the Champions League race after dropping points in the previous four games. The three points were also vital for the management’s continuous support for Gattuso, who’s certainly been given a second chance at the club. Continue reading
After four games of misery, AC Milan finally managed to get the win, taking on SPAL at the San Siro. With that said, Gattuso will feel a bit more relieved heading into the new year, with his job (probably) intact.
The Rossoneri hadn’t scored for an incredible four games ahead of tonight’s clash: a spell which they, fortunately, managed to break. However, it didn’t start in the best way possible, as a Petagna effort took a wicked deflection off Romagnoli, putting it out of reach for Donnarumma in goal. The home crowd was certainly stunned as they away side ran away in celebration. Continue reading
After a disastrous spell in the league, during which they haven’t won in four games, AC Milan are gearing up to face SPAL on Saturday evening. This will be the decisive test for Gattuso, who’s currently on the brink.
Not only have the Rossoneri failed to win in these games, but they’ve also failed to score. In fact, Gattuso’s men have failed to find the back of the net in their last four successive Serie A games, which is their joint-worst run since 1930 (six games). In other words, you could certainly say that the team is experiencing a crisis, as the top four is slowly slipping away.
Luckily for Milan, though, their rivals haven’t done too good either as of late, which certainly helps limit the consequences of their poor run. The Rossoneri are just three points off the fourth spot, although the draw against Frosinone saw them move down to sixth place. Therefore, at the moment, it’s not just a race between Milan and Lazio, but also with Sampdoria. Since the latter will face Juventus away from home on Saturday, the order could be restored, that is if Milan get their first win in four games.
It looks like Gattuso will rely on consistency against SPAL, as it could be the first time that he fields the same starting eleven twice in a row since the third round, when they played Roma and Cagliari. However, there is one question mark. Suso was originally ruled out for the game, but appeared on the squad list earlier today. It’s not expected that he will be risked, although it shouldn’t be ruled out either.
AC Milan (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessiè, Bakayoko, Calhanoglu; Castillejo, Higuain, Cutrone.
Andrea Conti made his comeback against Fiorentina last weekend and also played 16 minutes against Frosinone on Wednesday. Despite a bright impact, he’s not quite ready to start, as was revealed by Gattuso during today’s press conference. As said, though, he looked to be in good shape, offering something else to the Rossoneri attack.
“I want to see 23 determined players tomorrow, how we win does not matter to me, what matters is the final result,” Gattuso stated during today’s press conference.
After reports suggested that the 40-year-old would need a convincing display in order to keep his job, this certainly hints at the opposite. Perhaps, Maldini and Leonardo have decided that Gattuso is the right man for the job, although there were moments it seemed sacking was the only option.
In any case, Milan will need to put an end to their goal drought, as three points are absolutely crucial in order to stay within the top four teams. Should the Rossoneri not make top four this season, then that will have many consequences ahead of next season. Leonardo revealed that the redemptions of Bakayoko and Higuain are dependant on Champions League qualification, which means that the players really need to step up.
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