AC Milan make the trip to the Mapei Stadium to face Sassuolo on Tuesday night, looking to extend their unbeaten run of 19 Serie A games.

Serie A returns to action this midweek with clubs in for the first stretch of competition as Matchday 4 arrives right upon the heels of Matchday 3. The pick of the bunch, though, is defending champions AC Milan, coming up against bogey side Sassuolo when the teams clash in Tuesday night’s encounter at the Mapei Stadium.

After having flattered to deceive last season as they finished in the middle of the standings, Sassuolo are expected to have another similar season after losing several key members of their first team this summer. They have made an inconsistent start to their season, having lost a game, winning another, and drawing one, to rack up four points on the board, and are currently sitting 12th in the standings.

On the other hand, Milan’s defence of the Scudetto has so far gone as planned, with the reigning champions sitting in the top-two spots after three rounds thanks to topsy-turvy starts for both Juventus and Inter. The Rossoneri thumped Udinese 4-2 at home on the opening weekend.

Then they played out a 1-1 draw with Lombardy rivals Atalanta at Bergamo before securing a comfortable 2-0 victory over Bologna back at San Siro. Stefano Pioli’s side have been impressive so far this season and holds the upper hand as they get on the road to lock horns with Sassuolo, who sit with only four points so far.

The last meeting between these two teams at Mapei Stadium was in the final round of last season when AC Milan won 3-0 to secure their first Serie A title since 2011.

This encounter is not as crucial because it is still early in the season, but the visitors will certainly want to win again to get a head start on their title-rivals, especially with Napoli currently in red-hot form and a blockbuster fixture against city-rivals Inter later this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

Sassuolo

Sassuolo defender Mert Muldur picked up an injury against Juventus on the opening weekend and has joined the likes of Filippo Romagna and Hamed Junior Traore in the treatment room. Otherwise, Sassuolo head coach Alessio Dionisi has no fresh injury concerns and can name the same starting XI that started against Spezia last weekend.

Dionisi has gone with a 4-3-3 attacking formation in all games this season. He is likely to once again embrace the familiar setup against Milan. Andrea Consigli is sure to start in goal, while the duo of Martin Erlic and Gian Marco Ferrari will form the centre-back pairing. The Brazilian ace, Rogerio, and Jeremy Toljan will be deployed on the flanks to complete the four-man defence.

The midfield trio of Matheus Henrique, Maxime Lopez, and Davide Frattesi will be key on the night as they head into a direct battle with Milan’s double-pivot and can overload the middle of the park.

Sassuolo’s ever-enterprising attack has been obliterated by some major departures this summer. Nonetheless, loyal captain Domenico Berardi remains at the club, and after another summer of speculation, he has reinstated his commitment by recently penning fresh terms with the club.

The Italy forward will be joined up front by Andrea Pinamonti, who will lead an attacking trio in which Giorgos Kyriakopoulos — a left-back pushed forward since Giacomo Raspadori’s initial loan departure to Napoli — will slot into the left-wing position on Tuesday night.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Consigli; Toljan, Erlic, Ferrari, Rogerio; Frattesi, Lopez, Henrique; Berardi, Pinamonti, Kyriakopoulos

AC Milan

AC Milan will remain without the services of Bosnian international Rade Krunic due to a muscle injury, and he is not expected to be back in first-team action until September. Aside from that, manager Stefano Pioli has other injury concerns as well with both Ante Rebic (back) and Divock Origi (inflammation on old injury) unlikely to be heading south to Emilia-Romagna due to respective injury issues.

AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli was set to ring a host of changes to his starting XI for the clash at the Mapei Stadium given there are so many games coming up in very quick succession but given the injuries to depth players, it is likely he will stick with the majority of the team that took to the field against Bologna.

There is a very high chance that Olivier Giroud will lead the line for the second game in a row, despite Pioli wanting to manage the injury-prone Frenchman’s minutes this season. Rafael Leao is also likely to keep his spot on the left wing in the absence of Rebic. The only change in the attacking unit will be the induction of Alexis Saelemaekers, who will displace Junior Messias from the starting XI after a bright cameo last time out.

Belgian sensation Charles De Ketelaere was withdrawn at the hour-mark against Bologna, so he should be fresh to start here, although Pioli also has Brahim Diaz at his disposal as another option to call upon if needed.

There is no looking past the formidable duo of Sandro Tonali and Ismael Bennacer in the double pivot, with the two instrumental in handing AC Milan the control over Sassuolo, but they will have to match the opposition midfield’s tenacity and work rate.

Mike Maignan will take his place in between the sticks for the visitors, who will line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in front of him. The rest of the back four is likely to remain unchanged as well, with Fikayo Tomori and Pierre Kalulu forming a solid central defensive partnership at the heart of the AC Milan defence, while Davide Calabria and Theo Hernandez will also retain their spots in respective full-back positions.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Calabria, Kalulu, Tomori, Hernandez; Tonali, Bennacer; Saelemaekers, De Ketelaere, Leao; Giroud

Key Stats

  • The hosts have conceded eight goals in their first four competitive games of the season, and as ever, are a bit leaky at the back thanks to their all-out attack policy.
  • Sassuolo have won just twice in the last 10 meetings between both sides. Milan, on the other hand, have won six of them, drawing the other two.
  • Milan have won their last 6 away matches against Sassuolo across all competitions.
  • The Rossoneri are undefeated in their last 19 Serie A matches (W13 D6), the longest active unbeaten run across Europe’s top five leagues.
  • Sassuolo’s Domenico Berardi has scored more Serie A goals against AC Milan than any other side (10 goals from 17 appearances).

Player to Watch

Charles De Ketelaere

There are plenty of contenders on this Milan side, from Olivier Giroud to Rafael Leao and many more. The same goes for Sassuolo, with players like Domenico Berardi set to take the pitch. However, for the sake of this section, the AC Milan player profiled here is none other than Belgian wonderkid Charles De Ketelaere, the man of the moment.

 Embed from Getty Images

The Belgian playmaker made his full debut for AC Milan against Bologna, and he certainly took the opportunity with both hands. He created the first goal all by himself, winning the ball back in the middle of the park before driving at full pace towards the penalty box and feeding Rafael Leao for an easy finish.

He played really well during the 60 minutes he was on the pitch, and put on a highly impressive display. Known for his composure on the ball and exceptional game-reading ability, the Belgian prodigy is a richly talented youngster and, by the looks of it, Stefano Pioli has found his long-last No.10 after what has been a long-drawn summer transfer saga.

Prediction

Sassuolo 2-3 AC Milan

Despite losing their big-hitters, Gianluca Scamacca and Giacomo Raspadori, Alessio Dionisi’s Sassuolo have retained the commitment to attacking football engrained in their club philosophy and are capable of pulling off an upset on their day. Both sides have a few defensive issues to solve, and the last five meetings between these two sides have all contained over 2.5 goals.

With entertainment always likely when Sassuolo are involved, a goal-mouth action is certainly on the cards, and a high-scoring game is expected. AC Milan are the better team on paper, however, and should be able to get the job done against the Neroverdi, with a 3-2 scoreline not an outlandish prediction for Tuesday night’s encounter.

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