AC Milan will look to register their second win of the campaign as they travel to MAPEI Stadium to face US Sassuolo on Sunday evening.
AC Milan have endured a stuttering start to their Serie A campaign, having secured only one victory in five league matches. The Serie A giants are also winless in their last three league fixtures and are coming on the back of a disappointing draw with Empoli a couple of days ago. Thus, a win will be imperative for Gennaro Gattuso’s men as they lock horns with US Sassuolo at the MAPEI Stadium on Sunday.
The Rossoneri will need to pull their weight defensively this weekend, having conceded eight goals in their five matches so far this season. But at the same time, attack will also be an issue, which was evident in their game against Empoli. And, with Gonzalo Higuain set to miss out once again after taking a knock, it will be interesting to see how they operate in the final third this weekend.
Sassuolo, on the other hand, have enjoyed an excellent start to the campaign, recording four wins in six matches. Their only defeat of the season came against table-toppers Juventus. However, they have secured wins in their last two matches and are coming on the back of a convincing 2-0 win against SPAL in midweek.
Sassuolo’s stunning attack is by far their biggest asset, having scored more goals than any other team in the league so far, including Juventus. Therefore, they will look to take full advantage of Milan’s defensive vulnerability as they aim for their third consecutive league win on Sunday evening.
The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over both the sides before their highly anticipated clash this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
Sassuolo head coach Roberto De Zerbi rung in the changes to his starting lineup in the midweek clash against SPAL and the young manager could once again rotate his squad against Milan this weekend.
Andrea Consigli will retain his place between the sticks, having secured a well-deserved clean sheet in midweek. But, we could expect Sassuolo to revert to a 4-3-3 formation this weekend in order to mirror Milan’s own formation.
Therefore, Pol Lirola will return to the side as the right-back with Rogerio being deployed on the opposite flank. At the heart of the Sassuolo defence, Marlon should retain his place, partnering Gianmarco Ferrari.
In midfield, Manuel Locatelli will likely be deployed at the base of Sassuolo’s three-man midfield unit. The young midfielder will be looking to make a good impression against his parent club. He should be partnered by Mehdi Bourabia and Alfred Duncan while Kevin-Prince Boateng will operate as the lone striker upfront, after being named on the bench against Empoli.
The Ghanaian has made a huge impact since joining the club this past summer, scoring three goals in five matches and the Sassuolo fans will hope he can maintain his scoring form as they look to beat Milan this weekend. Boateng will be partnered by Filip Djuricic and the highly influential Domenico Berardi in the final third.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Consigli; Lirola, Marlon, Ferrari, Rogerio; Bourabia, Locatelli, Duncan; Berardi, Boateng, Djuricic.
Milan will be without new signings Gonzalo Higuain and Mattia Caldara in this game, making the job even more difficult for the Rossoneri against the high-flying Sassuolo.
However, Ricardo Rodriguez is expected to return to the starting lineup, replacing Diego Laxalt in the left-back slot, while Davide Calabria will start on the opposite flank. Alessio Romagnoli will partner Mateo Musacchio at the heart of the AC Milan defence with Gianluigi Donnarumma in goal.
Biglia’s fantastic goal against Empoli will automatically make him an integral part of Milan’s midfield setup with the Argentine set to be deployed at the base of the midfield trio along with Franck Kessie and Giacomo Bonaventura.
Things do get complicated in attack, however, with Gonzalo Higuain sidelined with an injury. But, coach Gattuso is unlikely to repeat the mistake of starting with Fabio Borini as the lone striker this weekend.
As a result, Patrick Cutrone will shift into a more central role in order to operate as the false nine while the wide-duo of Hakan Calhanoglu and Suso will look to provide him with the necessary support. Samu Castillejo also remains an option for Gattuso, should the Italian opt for more attacking flair in the latter stages of the game.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Calabria, Romagnoli, Musacchio, Rodriguez; Kessie, Biglia, Bonaventura; Suso, Cutrone, Calhanoglu.
- Sassuolo boast a fantastic home record, having won five of their last six matches at the MAPEI Stadium.
- Sassuolo have been the most efficient team in front of goal this season, scoring 14 goals with just 85 shots. Milan have scored only eight, despite attempting 11 more shots.
- This will be the 39th meeting between the two sides with Milan winning 18 of them compared to Sassuolo’s 11 while the remaining 10 matches have ended in a stalemate.
- Sassuolo have seen under 2.5 goals in their last 3 matches against AC Milan in all competitions.
- Milan have drawn all of their last three matches in the league.
Player to Watch
Sassuolo’s offensive play will undoubtedly revolve around Kevin-Prince Boateng this weekend. But most importantly, it will be a special game for Boateng himself as he will face his former club for the first time in a while. Milan are the only club he has had over 100 appearances with, during his journeyed career. Thus, it will be interesting to see how he performs against the Rossonerri.
Boateng will be deployed as the lone forward, who will be supported by pacy and dynamic wingers in Filip Djuricic and Domenico Berardi. Boateng and Berardi, in particular, have made a solid offensive partnership this season, combining five goals between them. Therefore, stopping him will be imperative as Milan look to get back to winning ways.
Sassuolo 2-0 AC Milan
It’s difficult to foresee AC Milan winning this game, especially considering Sassuolo’s form as well as the absence of star striker Gonzalo Higuain. The visitors also don’t have an adequate back-up for the Argentine, making it even more difficult for Gennaro Gattuso’s side to provide a substantial threat to the Neroverdi. As a result, the hosts should seal an easy victory this weekend.