AC Milan will be hoping to strengthen their grip on the third place in the Serie A table when they pay Chievo a visit at Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi.

Matchday 27 of the 2018-19 season is underway, with champions Juventus having kicked the weekend off on Friday. AC Milan will be in action on Saturday, when they travel to Verona to take on rock bottom Chievo at Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi, hoping to continue their fine run of form.

At no point this season, have Chievo looked like a side that was going to avoid relegation. Sitting at the bottom of the Serie A table, the Gialloblu are currently an elephantine 12-point gap to safety, with their only win of the season coming against second-from-bottom Frosinone back in December.

AC Milan, on the other hand, have been on a stellar run of form since the turn of the year, with their last defeat coming way back in December, when Fiorentina beat them 1-0. Since then, the Rossoneri have gone nine league games without ending up on the wrong side of the result, climbing up to third on the Serie A table ahead of local rivals Inter Milan.

The reverse fixture, played at San Siro back in October last year, ended in a 3-1 win for AC Milan, with former striker Gonzalo Higuain scoring a match-winning brace. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Chievo

With relegation staring Chievo in the face, Domenico Di Carlo is running out of time to turn things around. (Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images)

With relegation staring Chievo in the face, Domenico Di Carlo is running out of time to turn things around. (Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images)

Domenico Di Carlo has a number of pressing roster issues hampering his preparations ahead of the visit of the visit of AC Milan. On Saturday, the Chievo boss will be without four first-team players due to injuries and suspension.

Goalkeeper Andrea Seculin (cruciate ligament rupture) and Ezequiel Schelotto (knee) are out with long-term injuries. Club captain Sergio Pellisier misses out with a thigh injury, while Nicola Rigoni is unavailable due to a one-match ban after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season in last week’s defeat at Torino.

Seculin’s absence has been a blow for Chievo, with the 28-year-old being replaced by veteran goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino between the sticks. In front of him, Chievo are likely to be lined up in an orthodox 4-4-2 formation against AC Milan by Di Carlo.

Fabio Depaoli ought to be the right-back for the hosts, with Pawel Jaroszynski lining up on the opposite flank. At the heart of the Chievo defence, Mattia Bani and Federico Barba should continue, although the duo need to put up a better fight against a confident AC Milan attack.

Up ahead in midfield, January signing Assane Diousse has become a certain starter as the defensive midfielder, and his primary responsibility will entail him to neutralise Lucas Paqueta. Perparim Hetemaj should be the Senegalese’s partner in the middle of the park, with Emanuele Giaccherini and Lucas Piazon being the two wide midfielders.

Sergio Pellisiser, as iterated earlier, is unavailable and will be sorely missed. In his absence, Filip Djordjevic should lead the line for Chievo against AC Milan, with Riccardo Meggiorini being his partner.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Sorrentino; Depaoli, Bani, Barba, Jaroszynski; Piazon, Hetemaj, Diousse, Giaccherini; Meggiorini, Djordjevic

Chievo

AC Milan

Gennaro Gattuso only has one fresh concern to deal with ahead of the trip to Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi, with Ricardo Rodriguez suspended due to an accumulation of yellow cards. In his absence, Diego Laxalt is likely to deputize on the left side of the AC Milan defence.

On the opposite flank, Andrea Conti is likely to be handed a rare start, with Davide Calabria, who has recently been linked with Manchester United, being rested ahead of next week’s derby against Inter. At the heart of the defence, however, there are unlikely to be any shuffles, with Alessio Romagnoli and Mateo Musacchio continuing.

The other two absentees, meanwhile, are Cristian Zapata (thigh) and Giacomo Bonaventura, who has seen his season end prematurely due to a long-term knee injury. Back to the team selection, and Lucas Biglia is likely to return to the starting lineup.

The Argentine should replace Tiemoue Bakayoko, who is due a rest after starting 16 successive games in all competitions. But, Franck Kessie and Lucas Paqueta should hold on to their places in the side, with the former being the creative force for the visitors.

Up ahead in attack, Gattuso is likely to make one final change, with Suso expected to start on the bench before coming on in the second half for some minutes. The Spaniard ought to be replaced by Samu Castillejo, with Krzysztof Piatek leading the line for AC Milan, while Hakan Calhanoglu will be deployed on the left flank.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Conti, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Calabria; Kessie, Biglia, Paqueta; Castillejo, Piatek, Calhanoglu

AC Milan

Key Stats

  • Chievo and AC Milan have met each other on 35 occasions, with the Rossoneri dominating the head-to-head record between the two sides with 26 wins (D7 L2).
  • Since the beginning of December, AC Milan have conceded the fewest goals in the top five leagues in Europe (five).
  • In the same period, only Barcelona and Liverpool (nine each) have kept more clean sheets than AC Milan’s eight.
  • No side in Serie A has scored fewer goals than Chievo (19), who also have the worst defence in Serie A (51 goals conceded).
  • Gennaro Gattuso has overseen 50 Serie A matches as AC Milan manager (W25 D17 L8). The last Rossoneri boss to win at least 50 per cent of his first 50 matches was Massimiliano Allegri.

Player to Watch

Andrea Conti

Eager to make an impression. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Eager to make an impression. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Conti was regarded as one of the most promising right-backs in Italy when he moved to AC Milan from Atalanta. But, after a promising start to life at San Siro, a long-term knee injury ruled him out until October 2018, when the current campaign had already begun. Upon recovering from the injury, however, the 25-year-old has not managed to become a regular.

With Davide Calabria proving to be a reliable customer on the right side of the AC Milan defence, chances have come few and far between. But, with Conti likely to get a rare start on Saturday, he now has the chance to impress Gennaro Gattuso.

The Italian international has already iterated that he would like to secure more regular game time (h/t Calciomercato), but will need to come to the party in the final third against a sub-par Chievo defence. A key game beckons for Andrea Conti.

Prediction

Chievo 0-3 AC Milan

It has been quite a forgetful season for Chievo, who are primed to drop down to Serie B, with safety looking like a distant dream. Domenico Di Carlo’s third stint at the club has not quite gone as per plan, with the manager yet to even win a game. And, the losing streak is unlikely to end against AC Milan.

A switch seems to have been turned on for the Rossoneri, who are yet to lose a league game in 2019. And, ahead of the Derby della Madonnina next weekend, Gennaro Gattuso will be desperate to continue building up further momentum with a big win over the worst side in Serie A.

With Chievo yet to win at Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi so far this season, it looks like there is only one way the game will head, with the hosts likely to have a long day at work. The Hard Tackle predicts a run of the mill 3-0 win for AC Milan that should see them consolidate their place in the table.