The five key battles that could win or lose the game for Milan against Cagliari

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan make the hop over to Sardinia for a Wednesday evening kick-off against Cagliari hoping to build on their 1-0 win over Hellas Verona at the weekend.

Milan have slowly began to rebuild after the 5-1 demolition in the derby by Inter, having kept clean sheets in the 0-0 Champions League draw with Newcastle – a game they dominated and should have one – and in Saturday’s victory.

Today’s game comes against a team struggling for form. Cagliari were promoted via the play-offs from Serie B and have not found life back in the top flight easy given they are yet to win and have scored once in five games.

There will be some interesting battles across the pitch, starting with Noah Okafor against Alberto Dossena. It will be Okafor’s first start as a centre-forward and it will be intriguing to see how he plays the role while Olivier Giroud rests, given his different characteristics.

He must convince while Luka Jovic gets to 100% condition, and he comes up against a 24-year-old centre-back who is still getting used to life in the top flight but is certainly more on the physical side at 1.95m, so Okafor’s movement off the shoulder could be key.

Moving into midfield, there will be two important duels happening at once between Antoine Makoumbou and Tijjani Reijnders plus Ibrahim Sulemana and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Both Cagliari players are more naturally defensive midfielders, and they will have to track the attacking runs that the Dutchman and Englishman make.

Meanwhile, for Reijnders and Loftus-Cheek the task must be to pin the duo and create space for Yacine Adli who will operate at the base of the three-man midfield. He is not a defensive battler like Rade Krunic, and instead will play as more of a traditional deep-lying playmaker which he needs time and space to do.

Cagliari may be struggling for goals, but a narrative might help them. Andrea Petagna made his Serie A debut with Milan over a decade ago and scored against his old club for SPAL a few years ago, so he would love to hurt the Rossoneri again.

His size causes problems and will give Augello and Nandez an option for crossing, something that Malick Thiaw should be better dealing with. The Sardinians will probably try to have Petagna target Tomori and Luvumbo on Thiaw, so organisation will be pivotal to keep another clean sheet.

Finally, we come to Milan’s left side. Theo Hernandez is back after a game off and he will have a fascinating battle against Nahitan Nandez, who is more of a natural central midfielder that Claudio Ranieri is playing wider.

If Theo can cause issues and push the Uruguay international back – perhaps also inverting as we have seen plenty of times – it will not only create space for the midfielders but also for Pulisic and Okafor to operate.

Tags AC Milan Cagliari-Milan

1 Comment

  1. Milan 3
    Cagliari 0

    Okay with a brace one assisted by Chuky
    Theo scores from Puli assist

    Okafur and Pulisic movement gash the low block early and we can bring off players but to Rest while getting minutes in squad players we will need.

    Hoping to see Barty and Muah at the half for Theo RLC. Pellegrino and Jovic at the 60 for Tomori and Puli.

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