AC Milan will be looking to continue their surge towards the top end of the Serie A table as they go up against a Torino side that are intent on doing the same.
From calamitous to captivating, AC Milan’s season has taken a turn for the positive in the recent couple of months. From talks of replacing Gennaro Gattuso doing the rounds, the manager has not just stabilised the roster but also gotten the attack to start firing.
Their spending spree is finally starting to make sense, with the players gelling in well and the squad harmony is there for all to see. The fighting spirit that Gattuso has managed to instill is a throwback to the AC Milan sides of yesteryear.
4 points behind Inter Milan, who are third on the table, AC Milan have the opportunity to close it down to merely a point, with Inter having suffered a narrow 1-0 loss to Juventus on Friday night. Defeating Torino though, will not be an easy proposition for AC Milan.
Undefeated away from home, Torino are dangerous going forward. Their ability to score even against the run of the play is something that has seen them snatch points every now and then. For Torino, they have the prospect of getting into the European qualification places with a point on Sunday night.
Torino’s last trip to San Siro yielded a 0-0 draw and AC Milan would hope to improve upon the mentioned scoreline.
We take a closer look at the squads.
Team News & Tactics
Gennaro Gattuso has continuously shifted between a two-pronged attack to three in the forward line. But, with AC Milan receiving more success while being deployed in a 4-3-3 setup, we expect the manager to go with the same for Sunday night.
Mattia Caldara, Alessio Romagnoli, Mateo Musacchio and Ivan Strinic are all on the list of casualties, which means AC Milan are down to their bare bones in defence. Gattuso has had to field Ricardo Rodriguez as a centre-back and could be forced into doing the same against Torino, with Cristian Zapata partnering him.
Davide Calabria should start on the right side of the defence, with Diego Laxalt likely to be forced to play a withdrawn role as the left-back.
With Giacomo Bonaventura and Lucas Biglia injured, Gattuso also has limited options for the three spots in midfield. Franck Kessie is guaranteed to start and so is Tiemoue Bakayoko after his upsurge in form in recent weeks. The third spot could likely go to Hakan Calhanoglu, who could be played in a withdrawn role in central midfield.
Samu Castillejo should start on the left, should Calhanoglu start in central midfield. Suso is guaranteed a starter on the right, with Gattuso preferring the young Patrick Cutrone upfront, instead of cultured forward Gonzalo Higuain.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Calabria, Zapata, Rodriguez, Laxalt; Kessie, Bakayoko, Calhanoglu; Suso, Cutrone, Castillejo
Torino have a clean bill of health going into the match. 3-5-2 has been the preferred formation for Walter Mazzarri and while there are murmurs of the manager likely to go with a single striker, we expect him to retain the two-pronged attack, especially with AC Milan likely to field a makeshift defence.
Nicolas N’Koulou, Amando Izzo and Koffi Djidji were all rested for the Coppa Italia tie and should return to the backline for Sunday. Cristian Ansaldi and Lorenzo De Silvestri should start as the wing-backs.
With AC Milan rediscovering their attacking form, Mazzarri could go with two defensive midfielders, with Tomas Rincon and Soualiho Meite likely to assume the roles.
The last spot in midfield is important as it will be the focal point of all things creative going forward. Daniele Baselli is the likeliest to be given the start in the said position, with Andrea Belotti and Simone Zaza likely to start upfront.
Zaza though, could be on the bench, with Mazzarri converting the lineup into a 3-5-1-1 or a 3-4-2-1. In such a case, we should see Iago Falque start in the Italian’s stead, especially with Zaza having played the full ninety minutes during the midweek.
Probable Lineup (3-5-1-1): Sirigu; Izzo, N’Koulou, Djidji; De Silvestri, Rincon, Baselli, Meite, Ansaldi; Falque; Belotti
1. Torino are yet to taste defeat away from home this season. (2W, 5D)
2. AC Milan are on a streak of 20 games without defeat against Torino in all competitions.
3. AC Milan have conceded in each of their last five matches in all competitions.
4. After a dry run early on in the season, Andrea Belotti has contributed towards four goals (3G, 1A) in the last four Serie A games.
5. Suso has already surpassed his tally for assists in the league from last season (7), with eight assists to his name so far in Serie A in 2018-19.
Player to Watch
There is a chance that the attacker will be deployed in a withdrawn role in central midfield. But, that is pnothing new for the former Bayer Leverkusen star, who has started in central midfield previously in Bundesliga. It will be interesting to see if and how Calhanoglu is able to adapt to the role, should he be deployed in central midfield.
With Torino likely to crowd up the midfield, set-pieces might just be the way to unlock their defence. Calhanoglu’s expertise in dead-ball situations could well be the difference on Sunday.
AC Milan 1-1 Torino
Torino are no pushovers and their undefeated run in away games so far this season is a testament to the same. Possessing a potent striker like Andrea Belotti, Walter Mazzarri is aware of the limitations of his squad and will thus, look to crowd the midfield so as to not provide space for AC Milan to build their attacks.
AC Milan will be fielding a makeshift defence and will have to be wary of the threat posed by Belotti. We expect Torino to break through the defence and get themselves up on the scoreboard. But, AC Milan have been on the up and ideally, should not end up on the losing side.
A 1-1 draw is what we are going for. But, AC Milan are slight favourites for Sunday, according to us.