AC Milan will be looking to make the final four of the Coppa Italia once again when they host Maurizio Sarri’s Lazio at San Siro on Wednesday night.
The Rossoneri will face their opponents from the capital in good spirits after Saturday’s win against Inter in the derby during which they trailed at half time but scored twice in the second half – both courtesy of Olivier Giroud – to get themselves right back in the Scudetto race with a 2-1 victory.
Milan boss Stefano Pioli has already pledged to play his strongest possible side against the Biancocelesti and has also revealed that the club are targeting winning the whole competition for the first time in what would be 19 years.
Game date: Wednesday, 9 February
Kick-off time: 21:00 (CET)
Venue: San Siro
Referee: Sozza (VAR: Massa)
Milan come into this Coppa Italia quarter-final looking to make the final four of the competition for the fifth time in seven seasons, but having not won the illusive trophy in that stretch, with the last time they hoisted the cup being back in 2002-03.
The Rossoneri will be buoyed by the derby success at the weekend as Olivier Giroud’s three-minute brace propelled Stefano Pioli’s men to a much-needed and hard-fought victory over their city rivals Inter.
Giroud is expected to start the game on Wednesday night with Zlatan Ibrahimovic still recovering from an Achilles tendon problem, while Simon Kjaer is a long-term injury absentee and Fode Ballo-Toure also won’t be available having just won AFCON with Senegal.
The main selection doubts are about whether Fikayo Tomori will get a start in the centre of defence having missed just under a month following keyhole surgery on his knee, and also who will partner Franck Kessie in the double pivot.
The latest team news MilanNews have is that Pioli should opt for Mike Maignan in goal after his heroics on Saturday night, with a back four protecting him comprising of Alessandro Florenzi, Pierre Kalulu, Alessio Romagnoli and Theo Hernandez from right to left.
It is expected that Kessie will keep his place in the line-up but will drop back into the double pivot to form a pairing with Sandro Tonali in front of the defence. Then in attack it should be Junior Messias, Brahim Diaz and Rafael Leao behind the centre-forward Giroud.
Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Florenzi, Tomori, Romagnoli, Theo; Tonali, Kessie; Messias, Brahim Diaz, Leao; Giroud.
Lazio are coming into this cup clash in good form; Maurizio Sarri’s side have kept four consecutive clean sheets and have finally started to show some signs of the coach’s famous ‘Sarrismo’ style.
The team initially struggled to adapt to Sarri’s system this season, with the defence and midfield in particular looking noticeably lost and disorganised at times, but now things are finally starting to click in Rome, with players like Danilo Cataldi and Mattia Zaccagni really coming into their own.
Ciro Immobile is continuing to fire on all cylinders, having netted 18 goals in 20 Serie A appearances this season, and he’ll be looking to add to his eight career goals against Milan tomorrow. The Italian striker had little issue adapting to Sarri’s new style, a sign of his quality and experience.
The Biancocelesti squad is mostly healthy, with only Francesco Acerbi and Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro unavailable due to injuries. Dimitrije Kamenovic will also be absent due to unnamed bureaucratic problems.
Sarri is likely to pick a strong Lazio squad to face Milan, making limited changes to the team that beat Fiorentina 3-0 on the weekend. The former Napoli and Chelsea coach is reportedly keen to focus on the Coppa Italia this year in order to start his cycle in Rome with a trophy.
Here is The Laziali’s predicted Lazio starting lineup to face Milan…
Probable Lazio (4-3-3): Pepe Reina; Elseid Hysaj, Patric, Luiz Felipe, Adam Marusic; Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Danilo Cataldi, Luis Alberto; Mattia Zaccagni, Ciro Immobile, Pedro.
Head to head
As SportsKeeda write, Milan have a good record against Lazio and have won 16 out of the last 40 matches played between the two teams with the Roman club winning just 9 of those games and therefore 15 draws.
The previous game between the two sides took place last September at San Siro and ended in a 2-0 victory for Milan. A goal from Rafael Leao just before half-time was followed up by Ibrahimovic netting from the bench in what was a dominant performance.
However, the Coppa Italia does have a history of being unkind to Milan in fixtures at home as it was back in the 2018-19 season when Lazio won 1-0 in the second leg at the Meazza with Joaquin Correa scoring what would turn out to be a second half winner after a 0-0 first leg draw.
➤ This will be the 21st Coppa Italia meeting between Milan and Lazio: a balanced record with eight wins for each side and four draws.
➤ In the last four meetings between Milan and Lazio in the Coppa Italia, only one goal has been scored, in the most recent match, scored by Correa at San Siro in April 2019. The last Rossoneri goal against Lazio in the Coppa Italia came in the quarter-finals played in January 2012 at San Siro, scored by Zlatan Ibrahimović; Clarence Seedorf scored his last goal for AC Milan in that same game.
➤ Milan and Lazio have faced each other three times in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals: the Rossoneri made it through the first two occasions (2001-02 and 2011-12) before being eliminated in 2014-15 when the Biancocelesti reached the final under Stefano Pioli.
➤ 13 of the 20 matches between Milan and Lazio in the Coppa Italia have been played at San Siro: six wins for the Rossoneri versus five for the Biancocelesti (D2).
➤ Milan have only lost two of their last seventeen home Coppa Italia matches (W12, D3), both against Lazio (0-1 in 2015 and 0-1 in 2019).
➤ 16 of Milan’s last 17 goals in the Coppa Italia have come from open play, the only exception being Hakan Çalhanoğlu’s goal from a throw-in against Torino in January 2020.
➤ In Serie A 2021-22 no team has scored more goals from outside the box than Milan (eight), twice as many as Lazio (four). Milan are also the side who have scored the most goals from direct free-kicks in Serie A this season (four, joint with Fiorentina).
➤ Ante Rebić has been involved in four goals in his last four official matches against Lazio (two goals and two assists). Last September’s Serie A match against the Biancocelesti at San Siro was the only time the Croatian provided a brace of assists in a Rossoneri shirt.
➤ The second of Theo Hernández’s two headed goals for the Rossoneri came against Lazio in December 2020 in Serie A: his 92nd-minute goal gave the Rossoneri a 3-2 victory.
➤ Stefano Pioli and Maurizio Sarri have faced each other on two occasions in the Coppa Italia: 1-1 and 0-0 in the two legs of the semi-finals between Milan and Juventus
Ones to watch
For the Rossoneri there will be a lot of interest in whether Olivier Giroud can keep up his excellent record of scoring 7 goals in his 8 starts so far this season, which have in turn resulted in 8 wins, but it must be stated that is in the league. However, he did score the equaliser against Genoa in the last round.
Brahim Diaz will also be called upon to build on his bright performance off the bench against Inter, and Franck Kessie will have to shine in a more natural role with the task of stopping Lazio’s creative players down the middle.
Lazio’s threat is obviously centred around Ciro Immobile who has 18 league goals this season so far and also netted the extra-time winner for the Aquile in their round of 16 victory against Udinese. However, the Milan-linked Sergej Milinkovic-Savic already has 16 goal contributions this season (8G, 8A) so he is a threat, and Pedro has 11 including 7 goals.
Then it will be about whether Sarri’s side can get a real grip on the game by keeping Milan’s left side quiet through Marusic and hoping for Cataldi and Luiz Felipe to show their experience down the centre.
We rarely go for bold predictions here but Lazio are a pretty free-scoring side with some defensive issues while both teams were involved in quite boring games in the last cup round, so why not a barn burner?
Prediction: Milan 3-2 Lazio