AC Milan and Lazio are both eyeing a place in the top four come the end of the season, although their recent struggles make it for a crunch clash.
AC Milan looked set to finish in the top four about a month or so ago. In recent weeks Gennaro Gatusso’s men have floundered their boots to lose three of their last four games which has seen the gap to fifth-placed Atalanta reduce to zero. The San Siro outfit will look to impose themselves over Lazio and restart their quest to hold on to their Champions League place when the season ends.
Milan have the additional pressure from Atalanta, Roma and their next opponents, Lazio, all of whom are breathing down their neck as the battle for a top-four place intensifies in Italy. With Juventus and Napoli well ahead on the table, acquiring the top two spots, its all up to Milan to make it count, especially in games such as against Lazio.
Lazio, on the other hand, are also not flourishing in their quest to be among Champions League teams. The Rome based side are still in better form compared to Milan and sit in the seventh position, three points below the Rossoneri, with a game in hand over all the teams above them.
Lazio have won three of their last six games in the league, with their most recent fixture in Serie A ending in a 2-2 draw against Sassuolo. Before that result, they lost to SPAL, and now when they face Milan, they hope to close the gap on the San Siro outfit. A win would take them level on points with them although a draw or loss, in particular, could be a blow for their ambitions.
Team News & Tactics
Gattuso has a few injury problems to deal with ahead of their crunch clash with Lazio. Giacomo Bonaventura is already a long-term absentee, and other stars like goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and midfielder Lucas Paqueta are set to miss the game. Bonaventura is not expected to play again this season, while Paqueta is nursing an ankle problem. Donnarumma has a strain to contend with that keeps him out.
These injuries could prompt Gatusso to make some tweaks to is starting lineup. For instance, Hakan Calhanoglu will play in central midfield to replace Paqueta and will do so for the time the injured star returns. On the goalkeeping front, Pepe Reina is expected to replace Donnarumma.
The regular backline featuring Davide Calabria, Mateo Musacchio, Alessio Romagnoli and Ricardo Rodriguez is expected to take the field at the weekend. In attack, Fabio Borini and Patrick Cutrone are back in contention for the side, while Samu Castillejo could find himself again on the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Reina; Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Bakayoko, Calhanoglu; Suso, Piatek, Cutrone
Lazio also have their share of injury troubles ahead of the Milan clash. For the side Jordan Lukaku is out and as are Valon Berisha and Milan Badelj. Additionally, Lazio have to deal with two suspensions for the game and midfielder, Badelj, who is anyway injured, will miss the game. Lukaku, on the other hand, is not expected to return before the end of the season.
Lazio, however, have their best players available for the game with the likes of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Lucas Leiva set to play in midfield, while the likes of Joaquin Correa and Ciro Immobile set to form the attack. The visitors will go with a three-man central defence comprising of Luiz Felipe, Stefan Radu and Francesco Acerbi.
In midfield joining Lucas and Milinkovic-Savic would be Luis Alberto, while Romulo and Nenad Lucic will slot in as the wing-backs. Thomas Strakosha will take his position as the side’s goalkeeper.
Probable Starting Lineup (3-5-1-1) – Strakosha; Felipe, Acerbi, Radu; Romulo, Milinkovic-Savic, Leiva, Alberto, Lulic; Correa, Immobile
- AC Milan have scored in each of their last 13 games against Lazio in Serie A,
- Lazio have failed to score only twice during this period.
- AC Milan are unbeaten since 1989 against Lazio at home in Serie A (P28 W17 D11).
- AC Milan have picked up just one point in their last four Serie A matches – the last time they went five consecutive games without a win in the league was in April 2018.
- Lazio have lost four of their last eight matches away from home in Serie A (W3 D1).
Player To Watch
The Polish striker has hit the ground running at the San Siro since joining Milan in the January window. Arriving in the aftermath of Gonzalo Higuain’s move to Chelsea, his goals have helped Milan to push for a top-four finish in the Serie A.
Piatek has scored 10 goals in his 13 games with Milan in all competitions and has become a player who cannot be dropped from the lineup. It will be him and the many other Milan players on whom the club will be dependent to qualify for the Champions League next season, and against Lazio, he would be needed to arrest Milan’s recent slump in form and get back to their objective.
AC Milan 1-1 Lazio
With neither side in the form that could dictate the prediction meter, we expect Milan and Lazio to play out a draw at the San Siro. It’s not to say either side can edge the other out of the contest, but by way of their recent form, a tense atmosphere is expected but the contest is unlikely to be a goal-fest.
Both teams have the required talents in all positions on the pitch, but with some injuries and recent form could blamed for their slump in form. That said, expect Milan to compete for a draw in this game, although the complexion of the match could change depending on who draws first blood.