AC Milan will restart their 2019/20 Serie A campaign when they travel to Vla del Mare to face Lecce on Monday.

Following a three-month break from Coronavirus, AC Milan will hopeful of restarting their 2019-20 Serie A campaign on a positive note when they face Lecce in an empty Vla del Mare Stadium on Monday.

This isn’t the first game for the Italian giants back from the footballing break though as they had recently played out a 0-0 draw with champions Juventus in the second leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final. The draw means AC Milan are now knocked out of the competition, thanks to Juve’s away goal advantage.

In Serie A, however, the Rossoneri are trailing sixth-placed Napoli by just three points and could potentially overtake them if the results go in their favour. Hence, a win this week could be imperative in their bid to secure European football next season.

As for Lecce, they are among the clubs facing potential relegation threat. The minnows are currently 18th in the league table, trailing 17th placed Genoa only due to goal difference. But with the Rossoblu facing a tricky test against Parma on Tuesday, Lecce’s prime objective will be to salvage at least a point against Milan.

And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their crucial match-up in Serie A this midweek.

Tactics & Team News

Lecce

Lecce faced a 7-2 drubbing at the hands of Atalanta the last time they had played. But, head coach Fabio Liverani could still retain the services of a host of players from that lineup, especially in the offensive department, with Gianluca Lapadula set to lead the line.

Club captain Marco Moncosu has been the club’s top-scorer this season with eight goals. He should provide the creative support to Lapadula, in the number ten slots, alongside Ricardo Saponara.

In defence, however, Liverani’s men are likely to defend deep and invite pressure from the opposition. The central defensive duo of Luca Rossettini and Fabio Lucioni could be key. They could be provided additional cover by the central midfielders including Panagiotis Tachtsidis, who is likely to replace the injured Alessandro Deiola.

On the flip side, counter-attacks will be key for Lecce in terms of creating chances. But unfortunately, their star man Giulio Donati is facing a suspension and is set to be replaced by Andrea Rispoli. Marco Calderoni, however, is fit and should on the opposite flank.

Probable Lineup (4-3-2-1): Gabriel; Rispoli, Rossettini, Lucioni, Calderoni; Shakhov, Tachtsidis, Majer; Mancosu, Saponara; Lapadula.

AC Milan

AC Milan are set to miss out on the services of star man Zlatan Ibrahimovic heading into this encounter. The Swede is facing fitness problems. Ante Rebic, meanwhile, was red-carded against Juventus for a serious foul. But, he should be available for this encounter and could even spearhead the Milan attack. Rafael Leao is another option.

Head coach Stefano Pioli is likely to retain his trusted 4-2-3-1 formation this week, which should see Hakan Calhanoglu starting at left-wing, partnered by Rafael Leao and Lucas Paqueta in Milan’s creative trio. These players will look to provide support to lone striker Rebic upfront.

In midfield, Pioli has a host of options including Rade Krunic, Lucas Biglia and Giacomo Bonaventura. However, the Italian coach is likely to persist with the duo of Franck Kessie and Ismael Bennacer. Their contrasting style of play offers Milan much more versatility, especially in the build-up phase.

And finally, in defence, Alessio Romagnoli and Simon Kjaer are guaranteed starters at the heart of the club’s four-man backline. However, with Theo Hernandez being available, Davide Calabria could return to the bench while Andrea Conti is set to retain his place on the opposite flank.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Conti, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Kessie, Bennancer; Paqueta, Leao, Calhanoglu; Rebic.

Key Stats

  • Lecce have the worst defence in the league having conceded 56 goals this season
  • Lecce have only won one of the last 10 fixtures between these 2 clubs with 5 losses, 4 draws and a single win
  • Lecce currently sit in 18th with 25 points level with 17th placed Genoa in the last safety position.
  • The last time these two sides met was back in Round 8 in October, which was Pioli’s first game in charge of Milan. The points ended up being shared in a 2-2 draw following a 92nd-minute equaliser by Marco Calderoni for the newly-promoted club
  • Calhanoglu and Krzysztof Piatek, now no longer at the club, were the Rossoneri goal scorers last time out with Khouma Babacar opening the scoring for Lecce.

Player to Watch

Theo Hernandez

Sparking interest from Manchester (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

Looking to make his mark. (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

Hernandez will return from suspension this week, serving Pioli and Milan with a massive boost ahead of this fixture. His pace and energy on the flanks should provide more spark to the club’s wing-play, with the left-back often looking to support the wide attackers.

Indeed, Hernandez’s forays down the flanks have already caused a lot of problems for Milan’s opponents this campaign. And with Lecce particularly missing out on the services of their premier right-back in the experienced Donati, the Frenchman will have an excellent opportunity to impose his authority.

Hence, it is fair to say that Lecce need to take extra care when dealing with the threat of Hernandez this week. Addressing any of the midfielders to defend deep might minimise the overall influence of the Milan superstar.

Prediction

Lecce 0-1 AC Milan

Lecce are the obvious underdogs heading into this game. They aren’t having the best of seasons and with key players out injured, they are unlikely to salvage even a point. However, their disciplined defence could pose problems for the Milan attack. Hence, we expect a narrow 1-0 win for the Rossoneri.

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