Rejuvenated AC Milan host Hellas Verona at home on Sunday as they look to extend their lead at the top of the Serie A table.

AC Milan and Hellas Verona clash in what is the battle of the Serie A’s best defences. While Milan have conceded 5 goals in 6 matches, Verona have conceded just the three.

Under manager Stefano Pioli, Milan are undergoing an impressive transitional period. The Rossoneri are unbeaten in the league and flying high in first place. Before the shocking 3-0 loss to Lille in the Europa League, Milan were on a 23 game unbeaten run in all competitions – a record that is no joke.

AC Milan would be hoping to bounce back from the Europa League loss and continue their improve upon their impressive domestic campaign.

Hellas Verona have been the surprise package of the season. Despite a host of absentees, Verona sit on 7th place at par on points with the likes of Napoli, Inter and Roma. It has been a positive start to the season for Verona who would look to build on it with an upset at the San Siro.

Verona’s last league win on the road came as long ago as January, however, they would be looking to change that statistic and add to Milan’s misery after the drubbing at the hands of Lille.

Team News & Tactics

AC Milan

To Pioli’s luck, some key men have returned from injury and he can select a strong side for this crunch clash. Mateo Musacchio is the only notable absentee but his starting berth was unlikely anyway. Davide Calabria and Alexis Saelemaekers have recovered after missing out against Lille; while Saelemaekers looks fit to start, Calabria could be eased into the squad with the international break now upon us.

Simon Kjaer and Alessio Romagnoli, the centre-backs, will have a stern test up against Nikola Kalinic. Meanwhile, youngster Sandro Tonali should settle for a spot on the bench with Ismael Bennacer returning to the team alongside Franck Kessie.

The attacking midfield trio of Alexis Saelemaekers, Rafael Leao and Hakan Calhanoglu will operate behind the 39-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Ibrahimovic has become the face of the rejuvenating AC Milan, and when he said that if he was at AC Milan from the start of last season, they would have won the title, he was not kidding.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Dalot, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Bennacer, Kessie; Saelemaekers, Calhanoglu, Leao; Ibrahimovic

Hellas Verona

Hellas Verona continue with a depleted squad as they travel to Milan without six injured players. Captain Miguel Veloso is the most notable of those. Alongside the captain, Marco Bennasi, Davide Farano and Andrea Favilli are all sidelined as well. To add to their woes, Koray Gunter has picked up a hamstring injury, and Ronaldo Vieira is out till the end of the year.

Antonin Barak is the in-form forward for Hellas Verona, scoring 2 goals in the previous match. Barak would be looking to exploit the space left behind the attack-minded Theo Hernandez. Alongside him, Kalinic, signed from Atletico Madrid, would be hoping to break his duck and score versus the Rossoneri.

Ivan Juric’s men are usually aggressive and intense in their style of play. They would be looking to press high with their 3-4-2-1 shape and win the ball high up the pitch. It will also be a really interesting battle between midfielders Adrien Tameze, Ivan Ilic and their Milan counterparts in Kessie and Bennacer.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Silvestri; Lovato, Ceccherini, Empereur; Lazovic, Tameze, Ilic, Dimarco; Zaccagni, Barak; Kalinic

Key Stats

  • Three of the last seven Serie A meetings between AC Milan and Verona have been draws, with each side winning twice in that run.
  • AC Milan have scored in each of their last 26 league games, they could equal their second-longest such streak in the Italian top-flight (27 matches in 1949).
  • Verona’s last win on the road in Serie A was in January 2020 (2-0 v SPAL): indeed they’ve picked up only eight points in their last 13 away games in the competition.
  • AC Milan (five) and Verona (three) have conceded the fewest goals in Serie A this season – this will be also the match among the two goalkeepers with the best save percentage this term (88.5% for Marco Silvestri and 84.6% for Gianluigi Donnarumma).
  • Before Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the last AC Milan player with at least seven goals in the Rossoneri’s first six seasonal Serie A matches was George Weah in 1996.

Player to Watch

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

They say some things age like fine wine. Don’t know about things, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic certainly does. At 39 years of age and a retirement-like stint in the MLS, the Swedish star arrived at Serie A and completely changed the fortunes of the Rossoneri.

Ibrahimovic has 7 goals and an assist in 4 matches this season. A record that is second to none. He was also named MVP for October in the Serie A. His killer instinct and key contributions in the final third would be key for AC Milan, as they look to score goals past the most stubborn defence in the league.

Prediction

AC Milan 2-1 Hella Verona

Hellas Verona have enjoyed a fantastic start to the season and seem really resolute from back to front. However, given how well AC Milan have fared in the league so far, they will be able to put the loss to Lille behind them and come to this game with full strength and aim for three points. This fixture will be a test of their mentality and will see how far have Milan come as a team in the past year.

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