An Opportunity for AC Milan to extend their lead at the top of the table and continue their push for the Serie A crown as they face bottom tabled Spezia on Saturday.

AC Milan will hope to continue their fine form away from home, with their unbeaten run on the road stretching for more than 400 days, when they face the lowly positioned Spezia at the Alberto Piccolo Stadium on Saturday night.

After dispatching Crotone in their last game with a 4-0 victory, Milan will try to increase their gap over rivals Inter Milan to five points. Having lost only twice this season, Milan will consider themselves as genuine title contenders given their current form.

Newly promoted Spezia will be high on confidence after their comeback 2-1 victory away from home against Sassuolo last weekend. Although Spezia have been a tough team to beat, especially for big teams, the 16th placed minnows have a terrible home record this season winning only 29% of their games at the Alberto Piccolo stadium.

In the reverse fixture, AC Milan recorded a comfortable 3 – 0 win. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, let us take a closer look at both the teams.

Team News and Tactics:

Spezia

Le Aquile will be without their star striker M’Bala Nzola. The absence of Nzola will be a huge loss for Spezia as he is currently their topscorer in the league with 9 goals in 13 games. Spezia will also be without long term absentees Federico Mattiello and Roberto Piccoli. Salva Ferrer will have to undergo a late fitness test ahead of this fixture. Midfielder Ricardo Saponara will return to the fold after serving a one match ban for his red card against Udinese last month.

Ivan Provedel will start in goal, with Luca Vignali, Martin Erlic (goalscorer against Sassuolo),Claudio Terzi, Simone Bastoni  retaining their places in defence from their previous fixture. Matteo Ricci, Giulio Maggiore and Riccardo Saponara will form the three man midfield and upfront Daniele Verde, Emmanuel Gyasi and Kevin Agudelo will continue to spearhead the Spezia attack with pace and tenacity.

Vincenzo Italiano will play the 4-3-3 formation with Erlic continuing to be a goalscoring threat from set pieces, Ricardo Saponara will take over the creativity and Gyasi and Verde will look to exploit the gaps left in Milan’s defence by their marauding fullbacks.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Provedel; Vignali, Terzi, Erlic, Bastoni; Maggiore, Ricci, Saponara; Verde, Gyasi, Agudelo

AC Milan

Gianluigi Donarumma will take his position between the sticks. Milan will be without Brahim Diaz and Simon Kjaer as both are set to miss the clash due to injury. Stefano Pioli will be without his first choice right back Davide Calabria, who will have to serve a one game suspension after he received his 5th yellow card of the season against Crotone.

Diogo Dalot is expected to take his place in the starting eleven. Fikayo Tomori, Alessio Romagnoli and Theo Hernandez will retain their positions in defence from the previous fixture. We can expect Hernandez to be a thorn for Spezia’s backline with his constant bombardment of crosses in the opposition box.

After missing the game against Crotone due to injury, Sandro Tonali will hope to be picked to partner Frank Kessie in the heart of midfield, with Hakan Calhanoglu, who came on as a sub in the last game, expected to make the return to the starting eleven and take over the creative role.

Upfront, Pioli will continue to play his in-form forwards in Ante Rebic and Zlatan Ibrahamovic, both of whom scored a brace in the 4-0 win against Crotone. Alexis Saelemaekers will retain his place on the right hand side of the attack, even after being subbed early in the last game for Samu Castillejo.

Pioli will continue to employ his 4-2-3-1 formation with Dalot and Hernandez expected to be a constant threat going forward as attacking wingbacks. Kessie has scored 7 goals in the league from midfield this season and he will hope to continue his goalscoring run.

Tonali will be expected to set the tempo, with Calhanoglu being tasked with the creativity from the centre. Saelemaekers will play the role of the wide playmaker, while Zlatan and Ante Rebic will give Spezia’s defence a tough time all evening with their movements and killer instinct.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1):  Donnarumma; Dalot, Tomori, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Kessie, Tonali; Saelemaekers, Calhanoglu, Rebic; Ibrahamovic.

Key Stats

  • Spezia have never beaten AC Milan in the Serie A (P2 L2 W0).
  • Milan have an 85+ win percentage since Zlatan Ibrahamovic joined them in January 2020. Milan have lost only one game this season with Zlatan in the team.
  • Hakan Calhanoglu, the prime creator for Milan, has 8 assists and 1 goal in the Serie A.
  • Spezia have a terrible home record with only 29% wins at the Alberto Piccolo stadium. (P10 W1 D3 L6)
  • Spezia have a very poor disciplinary record in the league this season, having been shown 64 yellow cards and 5 red cards.

Player to Watch

Zlatan Ibrahamovic

Even at the age of 39, Zlatan Ibrahamovic is still going to be the biggest attacking threat that Spezia will have to find a way to deal with on the night. With 14 goals in only 11 league games to his name, Zlatan is the joint second highest goalscorer in the Serie A and will look to add to his tally on Saturday as he tries to win the Capocannoniere this season. He will have the opportunity this weekend to level Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal tally of 16 goals.

Prediction

Spezia 1 – 3 AC Milan

Even though Spezia won their last game away from home against Sassuolo, AC Milan will be a really difficult team to conquer given Milan’s irresistible form away from home this season and Spezia’s poor home form. We expect AC Milan to beat Spezia with relative ease, with Zlatan scoring a goal or two.

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