After a disastrous first half of the season ended with a 1-1 draw away to Fiorentina, AC Milan will be looking to start the second half off right with a win at home against Crotone.
Date: January 6, 2018
Time: 15:00 CET
Venue: San Siro
The Rossoneri have grabbed just one point in their last three Serie A fixtures and now sit in 11th place in the standings, well below the fourth place objective. After an impressive win in the Coppa Italia against Inter, Milan drew to Fiorentina and once again failed to convert their midweek form to Serie A.
The squad will undoubtedly want to put the first half of the season behind them, and with the new year also starting will want to get off to a good start in 2018.
Against Fiorentina, we saw Davide Calabria play right-back while Ricardo Rodriguez again got the nod at left-back. Leonardo Bonucci and Alessio Romagnoli were the preferred central partnership as they seem to be Gattuso’s favourite pairing.
In midfield, Franck Kessie received another start while Riccardo Montolivo and Giacomo Bonaventura played alongside him. Fabio Borini was given the nod in attack again on the right-wing with Suso on the left and derby hero Patrick Cutrone playing as the striker.
There doesn’t seem to be many changes for Gattuso against Crotone, as most reports are showing that he will start Hakan Calhanoglu on the left wing instead of Borini. Calhanoglu scored against Fiorentina and has been playing better as of late, so he will relish the opportunity to start. Biglia could also replace Montolivo in the starting lineup, taking his place as regista.
The rest of the squad looks set to be exactly the same as the one that took the field in Florence last week.
Probable AC Milan XI vs. Crotone: G. Donnarumma; Calabria, Bonucci, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Biglia, Bonaventura; Suso, Cutrone, Calhanoglu.
Crotone currently sits in the relegation zone, as they have received 15 points from 19 matches. They are tied in third to last place with SPAL on points but behind on goal differential.
The team replaced manager Davide Nicola with Walter Zenga after Nicola resigned, however, the results have not been better as they have three points in four matches since Zenga took over, a 3-0 home win against Chievo. They are coming off a hard-fought match against Napoli in which they lost 1-0.
LAST TIME OUT
Since Crotone’s promotion last season, Milan has beaten them 2-1, drawn 1-1 and won 3-0. The 3-0 win was the first match of this season.
The 3-0 win earlier this season was a fantastic start to Milan’s season. There was great enthusiasm coming into the championship after a ton of summer signings, and the Rossoneri got off to a great start. They were largely helped by a 5th-minute red card by Crotone, but it was still an encouraging performance where Kessie, Cutrone and Suso made up the scoring sheet.
Whenever you talk about Milan’s key players, you have to mention Suso. If he is involved and has a good game, Milan usually plays well. After Suso, the other key player will be Calhanoglu. He is being handed a start in the league and will want to impress.
The addition of him over Borini will add some much-needed quality to the left side for Milan. Look for the Turk and Jack Bonaventura to link up down the left.
Probable Crotone Starting XI: Cordaz; Sampirisi, Ajeti, Ceccherini, Martella; Barberis, Mandragora, Rohden; Trotta, Budimir, Stoian.
They key man for the away side will be Rolando Mandragora. The Italian youngster is owned by Juventus and on loan at Crotone. He has played in almost all of their matches this season and has arguably been their best performer. We will also see if he will follow the footsteps of Brignoli and Kean and be another Juventus player on loan to haunt the Rossoneri.
It is hard to have faith in this Milan side after multiple disappointments in Serie A, however, this match provides the formula they need to get the three points. They are playing at home to begin the second half of a season against a much inferior team. They will also welcome the beginning of 2018.
Milan will have technical quality in the side among Suso, Bonaventura, Calhanoglu and Cutrone and should be able to break down the Crotone defence.
Prediction: Milan 2-0 Crotone