Both AC Milan and Lazio will be aiming to extend their 100% record in the 2021/22 season when they square off at San Siro on Sunday evening.

AC Milan will play hosts to rivals Lazio at San Siro in Matchweek 3 of the 2021/22 Serie A this weekend hoping to extend their winning start to the new campaign.

The Rossoneri, who finished second last season, are one among five teams that have maintained a 100% record in the Serie A this term. Stefano Pioli’s men began their campaign with a 1-0 win over Sampdoria before thrashing Cagliari 4-1 prior to the international break. And, Milan, who are currently fifth in the table, will be hoping to bag another three points and move level on points with leaders Napoli.

Lazio are also among the clubs that have made a winning start to the campaign. The capital club, under the management of Maurizio Sarri, defeated Empoli 3-1 in their first game before thrashing Spezia 6-1 more recently. And they will be aiming to carry that momentum forward and get another crucial win over one of the contenders for the title this season.

The corresponding fixture last season was a thrilling encounter that ended 3-2 in favour of AC Milan courtesy of a stoppage-time winner from Theo Hernandez. Ahead of their latest meeting at San Siro this Sunday evening, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

AC Milan

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is available for selection (Photo by Alberto Pizzoli/AFP via Getty Images)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is available for selection (Photo by Alberto Pizzoli/AFP via Getty Images)

AC Milan have some positive news on the roster front as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Franck Kessie have both completed their recoveries and are in line to feature against Lazio. However, Olivier Giroud will not be selected despite having returned a negative result on his Covid test after having been in isolation for the past ten days.

The fatigue from the international break and the huge clash against Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League in midweek may force Stefano Pioli into some changes following his side’s triumph over Spezia. No change is expected in goal, though, with Mike Maignan continuing under the woodwork.

Davide Calabria and Theo Hernandez are obvious picks in the full-back slots for the Rossoneri while Fikayo Tomori should also feature from the kick-off. However, Simon Kjaer could be given a breather on Sunday, with Alessio Romagnoli getting the nod in his place.

The fit-again Kessie, who is attracting widespread interest from clubs across Europe, ought to start his first game of the season in midfield. The Ivorian will have a key role to play with his ability to impact proceedings in both halves of the pitch. He will likely be partnered by Sandro Tonali, who could potentially act as a deep-lying playmaker for Milan.

Further up, the creative onus will lie on the shoulders of Brahim Diaz who had a good game against Cagliari. Rafael Leao, meanwhile, ought to feature out on the left. But, there could be a change on the right-wing, with Alessandro Florenzi in line for his debut ahead of Alexis Saelemaekers on Sunday. Despite Zlatan’s availability, Ante Rebic is expected to spearhead the attack, with the veteran star likely to be eased back into action.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Calabria, Tomori, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Kessie, Tonali; Florenzi, Diaz, Leao; Rebic

Lazio

Unlike Milan, Lazio have no injury or fitness issues whatsoever ahead of the trip to Lombardy. Maurizio Sarri has set his team up in a 4-3-3 formation since taking over, trying to implement the philosophies of ‘Sarri-ball’, which seem to be yielding positive results thus far.

Pepe Reina will be on goalkeeping duties on his return to Milan, shielded by the centre-back partnership of Francesco Acerbi and Luiz Felipe, who is likely to come into the side in place of Patric. Adam Marusic should also get a look-in at right-back, ahead of Manuel Lazzari while Elseid Hysaj, who was on target against Spezia, should retain his place on the left.

The onus of cutting out attacks and keeping things ticking along in the middle of the park will fall on the ageing shoulders of Lucas Leiva. On either side of him, star midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto will line up, providing the forward thrust and creativity when in possession.

Moving further ahead, Ciro Immobile is a certainty in the No. 9 role after having plundered a hat-trick against Spezia. Whether he can get similar returns against a much more solid AC Milan defence can have a telling impact on the outcome. Supporting him from the wide areas ought to be new signings Pedro and Felipe Anderson, both of whom can mix it up by either cutting in or staying wide on the flanks.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Reina; Marusic, Felipe, Acerbi, Hysaj; Milinkovic-Savic, Leiva, Alberto; Pedro, Immobile, Anderson

Key Stats

  • AC Milan have drawn more matches against Lazio than against any other side in Serie A (W67 D59 L30).
  • Lazio have scored nine goals in their first two league games, a record for the Biancocelesti in Serie A.
  • AC Milan could win their first three league games in two consecutive seasons for the first time in Serie A.
  • Lazio have won their first two league matches. Only in two campaigns have they managed to win each of their first three Serie A games – 1974/75 and 2012/13.
  • Ciro Immobile has scored seven goals in 13 matches against AC Milan in Serie A, with six of these coming in eight games while playing for Lazio. In addition, his first hat-trick for the Biancocelesti came against the Rossoneri in September 2017.

Player to Watch

Brahim Diaz

AC Milan made a concerted push to sign Brahim Diaz back from Real Madrid this past summer after the young attacking midfielder had had a decent season last time out on loan. With Hakan Calhanoglu having departed, the Spaniard has emerged as the chief creative force for the Rossoneri and has done a decent job so far in the first two matches of the season, scoring and assisting two goals apiece.

The 22-year-old has the knack of playing those defence-splitting passes while he himself can pose a goal threat. All those qualities will come in handy as Milan look to defeat Lazio this weekend and maintain their 100% record in the 2021/22 campaign.

Prediction

AC Milan 1-1 Lazio

This one is difficult to call, considering that both teams have made a fine start to the season and come into the game on the back of big wins. AC Milan will be boosted by having Franck Kessie and Zlatan Ibrahimovic back, but at the same time Stefano Pioli is set to make a few changes that could stifle their chances.

As for Lazio, they have come up against two teams that have been nowhere nearly as secure as Milan defensively, meaning it will be a big challenge for Maurizio Sarri & co. to continue their goalscoring spree. The Hard Tackle is, thus, predicting this contest to end in a tightly-contested scored draw.

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