AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli is expected to make as many as seven changes to his starting XI for the game against Inter compared to the line-up against Red Star.
According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the rotation in Belgrade was virtually inevitable considering how important Sunday’s game was and now that Milan resumed playing every three days. The movements on the January market were also a sign of this, as the management wanted to give Pioli new alternatives in all departments.
They achieved a draw against Red Star that puts the team in a good position for the return leg with two away goals, and during next Thursday’s game Pioli will presumably again resort to several changes.
Two players are expected to miss the derby in Brahim Diaz and Ismael Bennacer, both out with thigh problems, but aside from that it is a clean bill of health.
In defence Calabria is expected to return after two rest games (one for disqualification and the other for precautionary purposes), as well as Simon Kjaer. Kalulu and Tomori – who performed well against Red Star – will go to the bench. Alessio Romagnoli and Theo Hernandez will complete the back four.
Franck Kessie will return after being rested, and Sandro Tonali is the favourite over Soualiho Meite to partner the Ivorian. Zlatan Ibrahimovic did not even play a minute in Serbia and will take back his place, and the same goes for Alexis Saelemaekers on the right.
Hakan Calhanoglu will come back in at No.10 in place of Rade Krunic, while the only real battle is on the left, where Rebic and Leao are playing for the spot and, based on Thursday’s impact, Croatian appears to be favourite at the moment because he is more inclined and more disciplined in the coverage phase.
Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Theo; Kessie, Tonali; Saelemaekers, Calhanoglu, Rebic (Leao); Ibrahimovic.