Italian giants AC Milan will be hoping to continue their Serie A title charge when they play hosts to Hellas Verona at San Siro on Saturday.

Following a weeklong international break, AC Milan are set to resume their Serie A campaign on Saturday, as they take on Verona on Saturday evening. It is going to be an important game for the hosts as they look to continue their excellent start to the campaign that saw them collect 19 points in seven matches so far.

While that has not been enough place them over league leaders Napoli, who are still enjoying a hundred percent winning record even after seven matches, securing another three points could certainly put the pressure on the Partenopei, who are facing a tricky encounter against Torino on the same day.

Verona are no slouch for Milan either and are coming on the back of an astounding 4-0 win over Spezia in the last matchday. Although dawdling in mid-table, Hellas Verona have been one of the entertainers in Serie A so far, with their tally of 15 goals in seven games only being bested by league leaders Napoli, defending champions Inter Milan and the high-flying AS Roma.

At the same time, the Gialloblu have conceded 14 goals, which has certainly played a key role behind their topsy-turvy form this campaign. They will be certainly hoping to get on the brighter side of things this weekend with a win over Milan and here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a look at their chances ahead of this crucial encounter in Serie A.

Team News & Tactics

AC Milan

The international break has not been kind to AC Milan, who are missing premier full-back Theo Hernandez while Davide Calabria and goalkeeper Mike Maignan are set to miss out due to their respective injuries.

Hernandez and Calabria’s absence means head coach Stefano Pioli will have to make do with backup full-backs in Pierre Kalulu and Fode Ballo-Toure. It should certainly change the dynamic of their play, with less attacking support from wider areas.

It should effectively force the wingers Ante Rebic and Alexis Saelemaekers to cover more ground in the final third. At the same time, it may make Milan much more resilient when defending counters, which could be useful as Ciprian Tatarusanu steps in for injured Maignan, riding on the cover for Simon Kjaer and Fikayo Tomori in central defence.

In midfield, Franck Kessie should continue alongside Sandro Tonali as the duo offers a perfect combination between control, technique and aggression. However, Pioli does have an excellent alternative in the form of Ismael Bennacer, who is capable of breaching opposition defences with his precise forward balls.

Moving forward, there might be one change with influential playmaker Brahim Diaz suffering from an illness. The former Manchester City starlet might be ruled out for this game, paving the way for the young Daniel Maldini to operate just behind the main forward Olivier Giroud while Zlatan Ibrahimovic is also poised for a potential return to the bench after making significant strides towards full fitness.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Tatarusanu; Calabria, Tomori, Kjaer, Ballo-Toure; Tonali, Kessie; Saelemaekers, Maldini, Rebic; Giroud

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Hellas Verona

Hellas Verona do not have a huge list of absentees heading into this game. But Davide Faraoni, Gianluca Frabotta and Ivan Ilic are the three doubts heading into this game, forcing Igor Tudor to find new options, particularly on the right flank.

Indeed, Faraoni was a crucial asset for the team at right wingback, though it appears the club captain is only a doubt and could return to full fitness in time. He could, therefore, continue to operate in the wing-back positions along with Darko Lazovic on the opposite flank.

Given the recent set of results, Verona will take up a more cautious approach, so it won’t be surprising to see their wingback dropping deep during defensive phases. It would transform their defensive setup into a back five, with the central defensive combination of Pawel Dawidowicz, Koray Gunter and Giangiacomo Magnani being aided by Faraoni and Lazovic.

Meanwhile, the visitors need to remain resilient in the second line of press as well. That is where Ivan Ilic, with his unmatched aggression and work ethic could be a huge miss. Verona do have Adrien Tameze lined up as a replacement, while Daniel Bessa remains a guaranteed starter in the middle of the park.

Finally, in the attacking third, the onus will be on Antonin Barak and Gianluca Caprari to offer the creative flair as well as the aggression on the counter, as they look to serve Giovanni Simeone upfront.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Montipo; Dawidowicz, Gunter, Magnani; Faraoni, Tameze, Bessa, Lazovic; Barak, Caprari; Simeone

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Key Stats

  • Following successive defeats under Eusebio Di Francesco, Verona have won two and drawn two of their four Serie A matches under Igor Tudor, netting 2+ goals in each game (12 in total). Under the Croatian, the club is averaging their highest points per game ratio in the three points for a win era (2.0 – higher than under any other manager).
  • Having lost successive league matches against Verona between 2016 and 2017, AC Milan have gone unbeaten in the following five against them (W3 D2).
  • AC Milan are undefeated in 29 Serie A home meetings with Verona (W16 D13); only against Inter and Juventus have the Gialloblu played more top-flight away matches without a single win in the competition.
  • The Rossoneri have won 19 points so far this season: in the three points for a win era, only in 2003/04 and in 2020/21 (20 points each) have they won more points after the first eight games in a Serie A campaign.
  • AC Milan have won all three of their home games so far this season: they last won their first four home matches in a Serie A season back in the 2005/06 campaign.

Player to Watch

 Ante Rebic

Croatia's forward Ante Rebic poses before the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Argentina and Croatia at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod on June 21, 2018. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)

Can Rebic make a difference this weekend? (Photo credit should read Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)

Despite being involved in just three goals in seven league matches, Ante Rebic has been a crucial outlet in Milan’s attacking department this season. His versatility, strength and a direct style of play make him quite a threat for the Rossoneri going forward.

Rebic could be critical for Milan now more than ever, as the Italian giants head into the fixture without the influential Hernandez on the left flank while Brahiim Diaz is likely to be ruled out as well. It makes the Croatian international one of the club’s main sources of productivity, thus making Rebic the one player worth keeping an eye on this weekend.

Prediction

AC Milan 2-1 Hellas Verona

Hellas Verona have transformed into a fearless attacking team under the tutelage of Igor Tudor. We are expecting the visitors to cause problems for the opposition, perhaps even net a goal or two against a Milan defence that will be missing out on two of their premier fullbacks.

The Rossoneri are the favourites nonetheless, due to the sheer quality of the game as well as the fact that the hosts do have a strong depth in their team. As such, they could come out as clear victors in this important Serie A encounter this weekend.

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