AC Milan will get their 2022-23 Coppa Italia campaign underway against Torino on Wednesday night, looking to make the quarter-final stage yet again.
Milan were heading for a second win in two games to begin the new year against Roma on Sunday night, but they let a two-goal lead evaporate late in the game to leave a bitter taste in the mouth heading into the cup game.
The Rossoneri will welcome Ivan Juric’s side with some injury problems still plaguing the ranks, but with a big chance to reach the final eight of the competition in front of an expected crowd of over 60,000 under the lights of San Siro.
Game date: Wednesday, 11 January
Kick-off time: 21:00 (CET)
Venue: San Siro
Referee: Davide Rapuano (VAR: Abbattista)
Milan are looking to do better than last season’s Coppa Italia campaign when they lost at the semi-final stage to city rivals Inter, but Stefano Pioli will have a depleted squad to choose from due to injuries.
Mike Maignan is expected to be out until next month while Divock Origi Ante Rebic, Simon Kjaer, Rade Krunic and Alessandro Florenzi are all still on the sidelines. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is back at Milanello but is still doing individual work following knee surgery.
Malick Thiaw will also be unavailable too due to a suspension dating back to his time at Schalke 04 in the DFB-Pokal. Junior Messias should return to the fold and is in fact a candidate to start the game.
The latest reports suggest that there could be space in the starting line-up for Sergino Dest at full-back, Matteo Gabbia at centre-back, Tommaso Pobega in midfield, Messias on the right wing and Charles De Ketelaere also the centre-forward.
Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Tatarusanu; Kalulu, Tomori, Gabbia, Dest; Tonali, Pobega; Saelemaekers, Brahim, Leao; De Ketelaere.
Torino have had a much more positive campaign compared to how they ended the last one as they are 14 points clear of the bottom three and are actually looking up rather than over their shoulders.
After being Milan at home in the league already they will be hoping to spring another surprise, but Juric is not expected to have ex-Milan loanee Pietro Pellegri and wing-back Ola Aina.
Wilfried Singo is tipped to take his spot with the likes of Schuurs and Ricardo Rodriguez in the defence, Samuele Ricci and Sasa Lukic in midfield, plus Aleksei Miranchuk and Nikola Vlasic in attack which should be led by Sanabria.
Probable Torino XI (3-4-2-1):
Milinkovic-Savic; Djidji, Schuurs, Rodriguez; Singo, Ricci, Lukic, Vojvoda; Miranchuk, Vlasic; Sanabria.
Head to head
Milan have recent history against Torino in the Coppa Italia having played them at the same stage of the competition in the 2020-21 season when the game went all the way to penalties and Rincon missed the decisive spot kick for the Granata, with the Rossoneri going through 5-4 in the shootout.
The two sides met the season before that too as Milan won 4-2 after extra time. A Bremer double had Il Toro set to go through but Hakan Calhanoglu equalised in the 91st minute and then scored in extra time, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic making sure of progression.
➤ Milan are the team that Torino has met the most times in the Coppa Italia (24), the one with which it has the most wins in the competition (nine) and one of the two – with Roma – with which it has drawn the most games (eight). Seven Granata defeats complete the picture.
➤ This will be the sixth meeting between Milan and Torino in the round of 16 of the Coppa Italia – only against Lazio (six) and Sampdoria (seven) have the Rossoneri played more games at this stage of the tournament – on a single occasion have the Granata managed to overcome the next round: in March 1961.
➤ This is the third match in the last four years between Milan and Torino in the Italian Cup, on the most recent occasion (12 January 2021) it was Milan who prevailed thanks to penalties, after the game ended 0-0.
➤ Milan have not scored in their last two Coppa Italia matches, only on four occasions have they failed to find the goal for more consecutive matches, the most recent in 2018 (three in that case).
➤ The last time Milan lost their first match of the season in the Coppa Italia was in December 2008 (1-2 v Lazio); since then, the Rossoneri have always gone through on the next 13 occasions.
➤ The last time Torino got past the round of 16 of the Italian Cup was in January 2020 (victory on penalties against Genoa), in that season the grenades stopped in the next round in which they were eliminated by Milan (2-4 in January 2020).
➤ Milan have conceded only six goals in their last 13 games in the round of 16 of the Italian Cup and never more than one per game. Furthermore, together with Juventus, they are one of the only two teams to have always passed the round of the competition in the period considered.
➤ Theo Hernández provided three assists in the 2021-22 Coppa Italia, more than any other player since last season’s last 16. The Milan defender scored twice against Torino in Serie A (May 12, 2021 at the Olimpico Grande Torino).
➤ Olivier Giroud has scored three goals in four matches in the 2021-22 Coppa Italia, with just four shots on goal; before him, the last Milan player to score as many goals in a single edition of the tournament was M’Baye Niang in 2015-16 (three).
➤ Nemanja Radonjic has scored in his last two Coppa Italia matches, the last Torino player to score in three consecutive matches in the competition was Andrea Belotti: four between November 2016 and November 2017 (one of which was against Milan).
Ones to watch
For Milan, there will be a big chance for De Ketelaere to play closer to goal and perhaps to finally get himself off the mark given he is yet to score since his arrival from Club Brugge, while Messias will also be called upon for answers in attack.
In midfield Pobega will face off against his former club and will look to add to his tally after Sunday’s goal, and then in defence Gabbia and Dest should be handed an opportunity to prove their value to the squad.
For Torino, Vlasic has been the main threat for Juric’s men this season with four goals and two assists in the league. He created seven chances against Salernitana at the weekend, the highest number recorded by one player in the league this season.
Sanabria and Miranchuk each have three goals, while at the other end Schuurs has been linked with Milan in the past and is now being tipped to join Inter as a possible replacement for Milan Skriniar, which says a lot about the level of his performances since joining from Ajax.
Pioli will have to find the right balance between rotating to keep things fresh and also taking the game seriously enough to get through to the next round. It is a big chance for some players to impress, and there could be options off the bench if needed.
Milan 2-1 Torino