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

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan will take to the field for the final time in the 2023-24 season as they close out the campaign against an already relegated Salernitana side at San Siro.

It will be a night of emotions without a doubt. Olivier Giroud and Simon Kjaer will play their final games for the club, while it was also confirmed yesterday that this will be Stefano Pioli’s last game in charge, meaning a nearly five-year tenure will end.

In terms of the game itself, some key battles will determine whether Milan end the season on the right note. We start with the main threat for the visitors – Antonio Candreva – who has been the shining light for Salernitana in what has been an otherwise miserable season.

He has 12 goal contributions in Serie A, perfectly split with six goals and six assists, and he has a knack for doing damage against Milan. It is likely that Tijjani Reijnders will face the task of tracking his movements, while also looking to contribute in the possession phase.

Moving to the left side, it is expected that Theo Hernandez will start the game for the Rossoneri. Over the last five Serie A seasons (since 2019/20), Théo is the defender who has been directly involved in the most goals (48).

The Frenchman has also completed the most dribbles (232) and who has made the most total carries (2571). His opponent will be the 27-year-old Junior Sambia, who has nailed down a starting spot now in the wing-back role.

Olivier Giroud will be looking to end his Milan career in the best possible way. He is currently stuck on 48 goals for the club across all competitions so he will have the milestone of 50 in his sights, one that Triantafyllos Pasalidis will try to stop him achieving.

Giroud has scored the most goals in Serie A for Milan after turning 34: 38 (ahead of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 34); considering all foreign players in top-flight history, only Cristiano Ronaldo (64) and Miroslav Klose (42) have netted more. The Greek, therefore, faces a tough task.

Lassana Coulibaly is very much the engine in the midfield for Salernitana and he is expected to operate in a double pivot again today, while for the home side it is being reported that Ismael Bennacer will have more of an advanced role.

Bennacer scored during the recent 5-1 home win over Cagliari and from the penalty spot against Torino in the last game so he is ending the season strongly, though the Mali international he will come up against has been one of the few bright spots for the Granata.

We end with a battle between two players that Milan signed just weeks apart: Christian Pulisic against Marco Pellegrino on the left side of the Salernitana defence.

Pulisic has been outstanding since his arrival from Chelsea with 25 goal contributions to his name across 49 appearances. Pellegrino struggled for playing time and was sent on a six-month loan where he has featured a bit more, and now he will try stop a opponent who will become a team-mate again from tomorrow.

Tags AC Milan Milan Salernitana

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