AC Milan have an excellent opportunity to pull away from rivals AS Roma in the race for the top four, when the two teams clash on Sunday night.
AC Milan will travel to Rome this weekend, as they are set to face off against AS Roma in matchweek 22 of the 2018-19 Serie A, at the Stadio Olimpico.
Gennaro Gattuso’s side are currently occupying fourth spot on the Serie A table, with 35 points from 21 matches, a point and a place ahead of their opponents Roma. A win against Eusebio Di Francesco’s men would see Milan widen the gap between the two teams and establish a solid grip on their position, while a defeat could see Roma pip them to the fourth spot.
The two teams come into the game on the back of contrasting results in their midweek Coppa Italia fixtures. While Milan will be buoyed by their 2-0 win over rivals Napoli, Roma will be looking to bounce back from the demoralizing 7-1 defeat to Fiorentina.
The Rossoneri got the better of the Giallorossi the last time they clashed in September last year, beating them 2-1 at San Siro. And ahead of the much-anticipated clash this weekend we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Roma will be without the services of midfielders Steven Nzonzi and Bryan Cristante, both of whom are suspended for the game. Juan Jesus, Cengiz Under and Diego Perotti are all out with injuries. Edin Dzeko has been hit with a two-match ban in Coppa Italia after he appeared to spit at the referee during the hammering at the hands of Fiorentina. He will, however, be available against Milan.
The manager will be hoping for a strong reaction from his team after their capitulation in the midweek. Swedish stopper Robin Olsen should continue between the sticks for the home side and will be guarded by a back four comprising of Rick Karsdorp and Aleksandar Kolarov as the full-backs with Federico Fazio and Kostas Manolas at the centre.
Seasoned campaigner Daniele De Rossi will partner up with Lorenzo Pellegrini in the middle of the park, looking to shield his defence and keep the Milan midfielders at bay. Attacking threat from the wide areas for Roma will come from Alessandro Florenzi and Stephan El Shaarawy, with Justin Kluivert providing options from the bench.
Nicolo Zaniolo will provide the creativity in the final third, starting as the No.10 for Roma, with Edin Dzeko spearheading the attack. He will be looking to add to his tally of just four league goals this season.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Olsen; Karsdorp, Fazio, Manolas, Kolarov; Pellegrini, De Rossi; Florenzi, Zaniolo, El Shaarawy; Dzeko
Backup goalkeeper Pepe Reina and defender Cristian Zapata are the latest injury issues for Gattuso to worry about. They join Mattia Caldara, Lucas Biglia and Giacomo Bonaventura on the treatment tables. Andrea Conti is back into the scheme of things after missing out in the last game with an injury scare.
Gianluigi Donnarumma is the obvious choice in goal for Milan with captain Alessio Romagnoli and Mateo Musacchio shielding him at the heart of the defence. Regular full-backs Davide Calabria and Ricardo Rodriguez will start on Sunday night, after being rested for the cup tie against Napoli.
No alterations are expected in the middle of the park from Gattuso, however, with on-loan midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko set to start once again, partnering Franck Kessie and January signing Lucas Paqueta. Spanish playmaker Suso will walk back into the lineup on the right flank, while Hakan Calhanoglu should also return on the left side.
Patrick Cutrone will contest with January signing Krzysztof Piatek for a starting berth as the striker, but the latter is likely to edge out the Milan academy product, after his performance against Napoli earlier in the week.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Bakayoko, Paqueta; Suso, Piatek, Calhanoglu
- AC Milan have won their last two Serie A games against AS Roma. The last time the Rossoneri won three on the bounce against the Giallorossi was back in 1996.
- In the last five games between Roma and Milan at the Olimpico, there have never been more than two goals scored: two wins for the Giallorossi, two draws and a win for the Rossoneri.
- For the first time in Serie A this season, Roma have gone four games unbeaten (W3 D1), scoring at least two goals in each of those games.
- Milan have conceded the fewest goals in Serie A since the start of December (only three in eight games).
- Edin Dzeko netted a brace in his last Serie A game against Atalanta – he has not scored in two consecutive Serie A games since October 2017.
Player to Watch
Having sealed a €35 million switch to Milan from Genoa in the January transfer window, Piatek made his full debut for Milan in the cup tie against Napoli earlier this week and made a huge statement. The Poland international grabbed a double as Milan ousted the Partenopei to advance to the semifinals of Coppa Italia.
The 23-year-old has scored 13 times in the Serie A so far this season and is currently the fourth-highest goal-getter in the competition. Piatek has scored on both of his previous visits to the Stadio Olimpico with Genoa this season, against Roma and Lazio. He will be aiming to extend his excellent record in the capital on Sunday.
AS Roma 1-2 AC Milan
It has been a torrid week for Roma, as they let slip a three-goal lead to come away with just a point against Atalanta in Serie A, following which they were battered by Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia. Manager Eusebio Di Francesco is under severe pressure to get things back on track at the earliest.
Milan, on the other hand, have pulled off a couple of impressive results, holding Napoli to a goalless draw in the league, before eliminating them from the cup competition with an impressive 2-0 victory.
There is a sense of new-found defensive resolve about this Milan side, considering that they have kept four clean sheets in their last six matches, conceding just twice. This solidity at the back, coupled with an in-form Piatek leading the line should be enough for Gattuso’s side to come away with a win from Rome this weekend.