AC Milan will look to pile more pressure on arch-rivals Inter Milan as they host Sassuolo at San Siro on Saturday.
Champions League aspirants AC Milan will look to extend their run of seven unbeaten games in all competitions to eight when they host US Sassuolo this weekend.
The Rossoneri have had a positive year so far, which has escalated them to fourth in the league standings. And with arch-rivals Inter Milan dropping points in the last matchweek, they will look to pile more pressure on Luciano Spalletti’s men as they aim to secure Champions League qualification.
Milan are currently trailing Inter by just two points but a slip up against Sassuolo will allow AS Roma to overtake them in the league standings. The Giallorossi are currently trailing Milan by a just a solitary point.
As for Sassuolo, they have hit a rough patch of form, of late, having failed to secure a single win throughout the month of February. In fact, their 3-0 triumph over Cagliari in January was their only win since the turn of the year and Roberto De Zerbi will be hoping for a turnaround as he looks to maintain his side’s mid-table status.
Sassuolo’s most recent game ended in a 1-1 draw with SPAL while Milan are coming on the back of a goalless draw with Lazio in midweek, in what was the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final.
And here, at the Hard Tackle, we take a glimpse at both of these sides ahead of their highly anticipated match-up on Saturday.
Team News & Tactics
Gennaro Gattuso could make a few alternations from the side that drew with Lazio in midweek though the Italian will continue to miss out on the services of Mattia Caldara and Giacomo Bonaventura.
Andrea Conti could return to the starting eleven, replacing Davide Calabria in the right-back slot while Gattuso may also shuffle the left-back slot by bringing in Ricardo Rodriguez at the expense of Diego Laxalt.
The central defensive combination, however, will remain the same with Mateo Musacchio and Alessio Romagnoli starting at the heart of the Milan backline. Their dogged defensive nature could be important in dealing with the bulky Khouma Babacar.
Minimal changes are expected in midfield, thus we expect Tiemoue Bakayoko to operate at the base of Milan’s 4-3-3. He will be partnered by Franck Kessie and Lucas Paqueta, who has made a great impact since arriving in January.
Suso, on the other hand, is eligible to feature against Sassuolo, after serving a one-game suspension last weekend. The former Liverpool starlet, who has been the club’s leading playmaker, will be deployed on the right flank while Hakan Calhanoglu will replace Fabio Borini on the opposite flank.
Those two creative outlets will look to feed the main striker Krzysztof Piatek, who has been in terrific form since moving to Milan in January.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Conti, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Paqueta, Bakayoko, Kessie; Suso, Piatek, Calhanoglu.
De Zerbi is expected to revert to a conventional 4-1-2-3 setup in order to mirror Milan’s own formation. Thus, Giangiacomo Magnani could return at the heart of the Sassuolo backline, where he will be partnered by the ever-present figure of Federico Peluso.
Claud Adjapong, who featured as a wingback against SPAL last weekend, will make way for Pol Lirola in the right-back slot while Rogerio will retain his place on the opposite flank.
We can also expect a lot of changes in midfield, with Milan loanee Manuel Locatelli returning at the base of Sassuolo’s 4-1-2-3.
The young midfielder will look to impress against his parent club and will be tasked with the responsibility of clearing out the loose balls and creating turnovers, which could be beneficial for his side in counter-attacks.
Locatelli will be partnered by Mehdi Bourabia and Stefano Sensi, both of who will play a key role against Milan’s midfield duo of Kessie and Bakayoko.
The Sassuolo attack will be led by Babacar this weekend and the former Fiorentina striker will be supported by the wide-duo of Domenico Berardi and Filip Djuricic.
Probable Lineup (4-1-2-3): Consigli; Lirola, Magnani, Peluso, Rogerio; Locatelli; Sensi, Bourabia; Berardi, Babacar, Djuricic.
- AC Milan have scored nine goals in their last three matches in the Serie A.
- The hosts have also found the net in 10 out of their 11 Serie A games against Sassuolo, during which they have scored 22 goals.
- Milan and Sassuolo have both found the back of the net in all five meetings at San Siro in Serie A.
- Sassuolo have won only three of their last 19 league games – in the first six, they had won four.
- AC Milan are undefeated in their last 5 matches against Sassuolo in all competitions.
Player to Watch
After returning from a suspension, Suso will once again become the focal point of the Milan attack as they aim to brush aside the Sassuolo defence this weekend.
The Spaniard has thrived under Gattuso and his creativity coupled with his ability to manipulate the ball as well as the opposition defenders are exactly what Milan need in order to collect all three points against the Neroverdi.
Suso will be deployed in his preferred right-wing slot, where he will look to link up with the likes of Conti, Piatek and Kessie while the 25-year-old is also a threat from long-range – making him arguably the most dangerous attackers in this crucial encounter.
AC Milan 2-0 Sassuolo
Milan are definitely the favourites here, having secured three back to back wins in the league while also having the home advantage that could certainly help them blaze past a lacklustre Sassuolo side, who haven’t been convincing, of late. A comfortable 2-0 win for the hosts!