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

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan will play host to Lazio in tonight’s Coppa Italia quarter-final at San Siro hoping to make the final four of the competition for the fifth time in the last seven seasons.

Maurizio Sarri’s men travel to Milan off the back of a 3-0 win over Fiorentina, but they meet a Rossoneri side who have just beaten Inter in the derby. The game will no doubt be conditioned by a number of key battles across the park, and we have picked a few of them out below.

We start with the man of the moment Olivier Giroud, who will be riding the crest of a wave after his brace in the derby against Inter, and he will look to build on his tally of eight goals for the season including netting an equaliser in the last round against Genoa. He faces a tough task to get the better of Luiz Felipe though, who is by now considered an experienced Serie A players despite only being 24, and the duo are likely to compete for many an aerial ball.

Moving back slightly, the Brazilian Lucas Leiva is tipped to start at the base of the midfielder for Lazio and his main task – in addition to facilitating build-up play – will be to limit the space available to Brahim Diaz and to disrupt him in possession. The Spaniard had a big hand in the Rossoneri’s equaliser in the derby and will be hoping it sparks him back into life.

Then we come to potentially the highlight of the duels in Franck Kessie versus Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Both are expected to be hot property in the summer transfer market and the former must recover after a poor display against Inter in the No.10 role, with the tough task of stopping a player who has 16 goal contributions this season (8G, 8A) and has actually been linked with Milan in the last 24 hours.

Looking at Lazio’s 4-3-3 system, we think that Alessio Romagnoli will be the man tasked with stopping his compatriot Ciro Immobile from building on his 19 goals for the season so far, including the winner in the round of 16 extra-time win against Udinese. Both are veterans of the league by now and it should be a real tussle, as Mattia Zaccagni could be the man matched up more with Pierre Kalulu in an inside forward role.

Finally we come to the left side of the defence where Theo Hernandez must channel the same intensity from the derby but stay on the field this time, facing off against Felipe Anderson who is back for his second spell at the club and has 10 goal contributions this season (4G, 6A). The Brazilian is always a tricky customer and with Romagnoli having his hands full, exploiting space in behind could be a key weapon. 

READ MORE: Past precedents and a lack of goals – All the key stats ahead of Milan vs. Lazio

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