AC Milan will look to make their way up in the Serie A ladder, when they take on Cagliari on Sunday
AC Milan will face off against Cagliari in the matchweek 21 of the Serie A at the Stadio Sant’Elia, on Sunday.
The Rossoneri currently occupy the eleventh place in the Italian top-flight, having accumulated just 28 points from 20 games this campaign. Having spent the big bucks in the summer, Milan have failed to translate the spending into on-field success and new manager Gennaro Gattuso will be keen on changing the fortunes of his team.
They come into the game on the back of a 1-0 win against Crotone and are unbeaten in their last three fixtures all competitions.
Cagliari, on the other hand, are struggling towards the bottom-half of the table and find themselves in the 16th place in the standings, just five points above the drop zone. Their previous game ended in a 1-0 loss to reigning Serie A champions Juventus and haven’t been enjoying the best of home forms.
The last time the two teams met at the San Siro in August last year, Milan beat Cagliari 2-1 courtesy of goals from Patrick Cutrone and Suso.
Team News and Tactics
Cagliari manager Luis Diego Lopez will be without the services of forward Joao Pedro, who had found the net for them at the San Siro. There are no other major concerns for the Rossoblu as far as injuries are concerned. Leandro Castan has joined the club from AS Roma and will be hoping to make an appearance for his new club.
Lopez is likely to call back Alessio Cragno in the goal, after having started with Rafael in the previous fixture against Juventus. The three-man backline that did a more than decent job of stifling Juve last week is likely to take the field once again as Filippo Romagna, Luca Ceppitelli, Fabio Pisacane are set to start.
The wing-back slots will be occupied Paolo Farago and Simone Padoin to provide the width in the attack going forward. In the middle of the park, the trio of Nicolo Barella, Artur Ionita and Luca Cigarini should retain their starting spots.
Leonardo Pavoletti, who is the second highest scorer for Cagliari this season, should start again at the top of the attack. He is likely to be partnered by Diego Farias, in the absence of Joao Pedro.
Probable Line-up (3-5-2): Cragno; Romagna, Ceppitelli, Pisacane; Farago, Barella, Ionita, Cigarini, Padoin; Pavoletti, Farias;
The only player missing for the Rossoneri for the weekend clash is full-back Andrea Conti, who is ruled out at least until March with a cruciate ligament injury. Apart from him, Gattuso has a full-strength squad at his disposal and will look to field his strongest XI possible.
Teenage sensation Gianluigi Donnarumma is the obvious choice between the sticks for Milan. Davide Calabria, who has been in decent form should occupy the right-back slot, while Switzerland international Ricardo Rodriguez will take the left-back position. The two will be needed to provide safety from the Cagliari wing-backs, while also trying to provide some threat going forward.
In the heart of the defence, summer signing Leonardo Bonucci will start once again, alongside Alessio Romagnoli and look to keep the threat of Pavoletti and Farias in check.
Lucas Biglia should occupy the deep-lying playmaker role in the middle of the park, ahead of veteran midfielder Riccardo Montolivo. He is likely to be partnered up with Giacomo Bonaventura and Franck Kessie who will be tasked with providing the forward thrust.
The three-pronged attack will comprise of Spanish winger Suso on the right-flank, Turkish playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu on the left, with young striker Patrick Cutrone operating through the middle. Whiel the attack does look dangerous, Milan have been quite goal-shy of late and will want to boost up their returns.
Probable Line-up (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Calabria, Bonucci, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Bonaventura, Biglia, Kessie; Suso, Cutrone, Calhanoglu;
- Cagliari have conceded one goal in each of their last four league games, losing three of these (W1).
- AC Milan are undefeated in 26 of their last 27 matches against Cagliari in all competitions.
- Cagliari have managed just two wins in their last eight fixtures across all competitions (2D, 4L).
- Milan have failed to register a single win in their previous four away fixtures across all competitions (2D, 2L).
- The Rossoneri have scored just 25 goals in the Serie A campaign this term, which is the second-worst tally among the top twelve clubs in the league.
Player to watch
Suso (AC Milan)
The former Liverpool attacker has been linked with a move back to the Premier League, despite having signed a new contract with Milan in the summer. Suso began the season in fine fashion and has already notched up 7 goals and 9 assists in 27 appearances across all competitions.
However, the 24-year old has failed to score a single goal in his last seven games in the Serie A. He will be keen on finding his scoring boots once again as Milan look to get back into the top ten of the competition.
Cagliari 0-0 AC Milan
Both teams haven’t been able to score freely this season and Cagliari have it in them to repeat their impressive performance against a mighty Juventus attack last weekend.
Milan’s attack has been lacking the bite in recent weeks, but their defence should manage to see the game out without much difficulties. So, here at The Hard Tackle, we predict a goalless stalemate at the Stadio Sant’Elia on Sunday.