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

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan are looking to extend their four-game winning run this afternoon and keep second place as they take on Hellas Verona at the Stadio Bentegodi.

Milan won 1-0 against Empoli one week ago to jump above Juventus in the standings, while they also beat Slavia Praha 3-1 away from home on Thursday to book a place in the Europa League quarter-finals, so it has been a good week so far.

Trips to Verona are rarely straightforward though, and the outcome today will be heavily influenced by some key battles. Michael Folorunsho has been a key part of the minor resurgence of Verona in recent weeks and he will be looking to continue his positive form.

He has four goals to his name in Serie A, and in a Gialloblu side that have struggled to score all season. The Nigerian will face off against Theo Hernandez, who will hope to keep his opponent quiet and contribute going forward.

It seems as though Noah Okafor will get the nod to start up front for Milan today in place of Olivier Giroud, and a duel against experienced centre-back Giangiacomo Magnani awaits for him.

The Swiss forward being preferred over Luka Jovic is a big gesture of faith from Stefano Pioli, something he will look to repay, and it will be interesting to see how he links up with the other forwards given he is more movement-based rather than an old school No.9.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek is Milan’s top scorer in 2024 with eight goals to his name, and he is tipped to once again be deployed in the attacking midfielder role in the game before the international break.

He will face Ondrej Duda who tends to be the deeper-lying player in Verona’s double pivot. The 29-year-old Slovakia international is in his second season with them, having joined from FC Köln.

The young full-back Jackson Tchatchoua has now established himself as a starter under Baroni and he faces might well be his toughest test yet, given the 22-year-old Belgian must stop Rafael Leao.

Leao scored an absolute screamer on Thursday night in the Czech capital against Slavia, the kind of goal that not many defenders can do anything about, and so he will look to continue his good form against a side who are likely to sit deep and make things difficult.

Finally, Darko Lazovic always seems to have a good game when facing Milan (he has two assists against the Rossoneri) and it will be up to Davide Calabria to stop him.

The Italian full-back is continuing to get back towards his best form after spending time out due to injury, and having the ‘first choice’ defence next to him plus the added cover of Ismael Bennacer certainly helps.


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