AC Milan take on Salernitana at San Siro tonight hoping to take advantage of the fact teams around them have already dropped points over the weekend.
Inter lost at Spezia on Friday night, Lazio were held by Bologna on Saturday and Roma lost to Sassuolo yesterday meaning there is a chance for Milan to gain ground on their top four rivals against Paulo Sousa’s side tonight.
The outcome of the game will be heavily influenced by some key duels, starting with the one between Pierre Kalulu and Boulaye Dia. There is no doubt about who Salernitana’s leading man is as Dia has 12 goal contributions this season, including eight goals and four assists, but Kalulu comes into the game having helped neutralise a Spurs attack consisting of Kane, Son and Kulusevski.
At the other end there will be a battle between two veterans in Olivier Giroud and Norbert Gyömbér. The French striker is working overtime at the moment and will lead the line again looking for a third goal of the calendar year, facing a 30-year-old Slovak defender who first got to grips with Italian football a decade ago.
In midfield there will be an important tussle between Sandro Tonali and Lassana Coulibaly. It seems as though Pioli will leave Ismael Bennacer on the bench from minute one thus asking Tonali to command the control room alongside Rade Krunic, aiming to dictate the tempo and keep the Mali international quiet given he has two goals and two assists this season.
Rafael Leao is undoubtedly still Milan’s main threat but he has not scored since the 2-2 draw against Lecce meaning he has gone six without a goal in the league, though he did net against the same opponent back on January 4. He will face off against right-sided centre-back Flavius Daniliuc, a 21-year-old Austrian who won’t get a tougher examination from many other players in the league.
Finally, there will be another duel on Milan’s left between the two wing-backs Theo Hernandez and Pasquale Mazzocchi. The Italian is expected to start having recovered from knee surgery and he has four goal contributions this season, while Theo Hernández has scored 21 goals in Serie A since he joined Milan in 2019, making him the defender with the most goals in that period in the ’top five’ European leagues.