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

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan kick off round 27 of Serie A on Friday night when they take on Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico, hoping to return to winning ways.

Milan’s form was excellent up until the 4-2 defeat against Monza just under a fortnight ago, which began a run of three games without a win given the Europa League second leg defeat in Rennes and the 1-1 draw against Atalanta on Sunday at San Siro followed.

Tonight’s game against Lazio is a chance to get back into a groove, and the result will be influenced by some key battles starting with Danilo Cataldi against Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

The Englishman has six goals in 2024 and has really settled into the attacking midfielder role that Stefano Pioli has given him, while earlier this season he drew a penalty at the Olimpico in the win over Roma. Cataldi though is a Serie A veteran having made his Lazio debut in 2015, and he will be up for the physical battle.

Adam Marusic has the difficult task of shutting down Rafael Leao who will get the nod to start on the left for Milan and will no doubt be feeling a fresh wave of confidence after his goals in the last two games.

Marusic meanwhile has been at Lazio for over six years and at 31 years of age he has had his fair share of daunting assignments, but the home side as a unit must try make sure he isn’t left in isolation against Leao.

The latest predictions are that Alessandro Florenzi will start on the right side of Milan’s defence and if that proves to be true then he will face his Italy international team-mate Mattia Zaccagni.

Zaccagni was outstanding for Lazio last season, amassing 10 goals and six assists in the league alone playing on the left of the front three, but this season he has scored just three times and will hope to rediscover some form.

Matteo Guendouzi has not only become a fan favourite for Lazio since his arrival last summer from Marseille, but he has become arguably the most important component of their midfield and tonight he will go head to head with Ismael Bennacer.

Bennacer has resumed a regular place in the starting line-up following his return from injury and from AFCON, while Guendouzi has made 34 appearances for the Biancocelesti this season and will be a tenacious, marauding presence for the Algerian to keep tabs on.

Finally, we end with the battle between Alessio Romagnoli and Olivier Giroud. Romagnoli obviously needs little introduction, given he served as the club captain for several seasons and ended up staying for seven years before departing for his boyhood club.

He and Giroud only played one season together and what a season it was, given it culminated in the 2021-22 Scudetto win. The French striker is out to do damage tonight though, given that his difficult night against Atalanta including a penalty given away broke the trend of an otherwise positive campaign.


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