AC Milan host Torino at San Siro tonight looking to get their first home league win since the game against Fiorentina just prior to the World Cup break.
Stefano Pioli’s men face a Torino side that they are unbeaten against at home in Serie A for almost 38 years, but one that have already beaten the Rossoneri twice this season, namely away in the league and at San Siro in the Coppa Italia last 16.
Pioli is expected to name Rafael Leao in his starting line-up as he looks for a first goal since the 2-2 draw against Lecce and also to flip the script from the reverse league game when he was brought off at half-time with Torino 2-0 up. Koffi Djidji should be his opponent, and he is also a threat at the other end from set pieces with the 30-year-old centre-back having scored in the defeat in Turin last October.
Torino’s Antonio Sanabria has scored the most Serie A goals this season without one coming at home, with each of his four goals in the competition this term coming in away games so far. He is their joint-top scorer, and the pressure will be on Simon Kjaer to martial the defence towards a clean sheet that would be the first since the 0-0 draw with Cremonese.
Moving into the midfield, Pioli is expected to name Rade Krunic as part of a double pivot which is perhaps not his usual role, given Ismael Bennacer’s absence. He will be tasked with helping Sandro Tonali in the build-up phase but mainly with limiting the influence of Nikola Vlasic, who has four goals and two assists for Ivan Juric’s side and was heavily linked with Milan before joining West Ham from CSKA Moscow.
On the Rossoneri’s right flank there should be a fascinating duel between Alexis Saelemaekers – who has seldom been asked to play wing-back by Pioli but did so well off the bench against Inter – and his opposite number Mergim Vojvoda. Vojvoda leads Torino with four assists in the league, so it will be an examination of the Belgian’s defensive ability and his work in coverage.
Finally, Olivier Giroud will be hoping to build on the goal he scored in the last home Serie A match against Sassuolo which was his first of 2023. He has looked rusty since coming back from the run to the World Cup final, and will face Perr Schuurs who has impressed for Torino since joining from Ajax, having been linked with Milan just as Vlasic was.
Article should state “eleven key battles”. Forza Milano , tonight we win!
I see the headline for tomorrow’s news: ‘Five things we learned after Torino defeat’.