AC Milan take on Lazio at home in what will be the first of back to back fixtures against the capital-based club. This match is in Serie A while the next one will be in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia.
The Rossoneri are looking to keep up their winning form, as they beat Crotone 1-0 and Cagliari 2-1 in their previous two matches. The Cagliari match was particularly important because it was the first time all season the club was able to win a match after falling behind.
The squad will look to keep their second half of the season running on a positive note. January has so far been a good month for the team and they will want to beat an impressive Lazio side who currently sit in 3rd place in the standings.
It is apparent from recent matches that Gattuso has a preferred lineup, as against Cagliari his back four once again featured Davide Calabria as the right-back and Ricardo Rodriguez as left-back. The central partnership of Leonardo Bonucci and Alessio Romagnoli was also untouched.
In midfield, Franck Kessie received another start alongside Lucas Biglia and Giacomo Bonaventura. In attack, Hakan Calhanoglu kept his place on the left wing while Suso remained on the right. The only difference from the Crotone match was Nikola Kalinic took back his place in the starting eleven as the loan striker.
Most reports are showing that Gattuso will only make a couple of changes to the back four. Ricardo Rodriguez received a red card against Cagliari, so he will miss the match and be replaced by Luca Antonelli. Up front, Cutrone could start in place of Kalinic, who was forced to finish his training session early on Saturday due to a muscular injury. However, the Croatian is included in the squad for the game, so Cutrone remains an alternative for now.
The rest of the squad looks set to be the same as the one that faced Cagliari.
Probable AC Milan XI vs. Crotone: G. Donnarumma; Calabria, Bonucci, Romagnoli, Antonelli; Kessie, Biglia, Bonaventura; Suso, Kalinic (Cutrone), Calhanoglu.
Milan’s opponents, Lazio, are having a terrific season. After the losses of Biglia to Milan and Keita Balde Diao to Monaco, most thought they would take a step back, however, as mentioned earlier they currently sit in 3rd place in the standings.
The reason for the surge has been excellent performances from their players. Mainly Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who has really taken a step up and become one of the best midfielders in Serie A. In addition to Milinkovic, Luis Alberto is having a great season after struggling last year, and Lucas Leiva was a low-cost option that replaced Biglia and has been very strong and steady for Lazio. Ciro Immobile has also been one of the best strikers in the league.
Probable Lazio Starting XI: Strakosha; Caceres, De Vrij, Radu; Marusic, Lucas Leiva, Parolo, Milinkovic-Savic, Lulic; Luis Alberto; Felipe Anderson.
LAST TIME OUT
The last meeting is one Milan and its fans will want to forget. Lazio beat the Rossoneri 4-1 in Rome.
This match served as a sign of danger for Milan, as they enjoyed a good preseason and started the regular season with wins against Crotone and Cagliari, before coming back down to earth against Lazio. After the match, ex-manager Vincenzo Montella switched his formation to a three at the back, and a run of poor results began for Milan.
In the match itself, Lazio dominated. Immobile scored a hat-trick and Alberto added on the fourth. Riccardo Montolivo pulled one back for Milan but it was much too little and much too late.
For Milan, there will be a few key players on the pitch. The first being Bonucci. He has not discovered his top form yet, but he has been much better since serving a two-match suspension. He will need to keep the defense organized against Lazio’s potent attack.
In addition to Bonucci, Biglia will want to have a good match against his former club. He has not been good this season, however, since coming back from injury he seems to be slowly finding his form as he was an important piece of the win against Cagliari.
He will want to cement his recent performances with a great match against a top club like Lazio. Aside from these two, Kessie had a great match against Cagliari and will want to find consistency in his performances.
Lazio will be without their best player, Ciro Immobile, as he is out due to injury. They have played well without him, however, as they finished the match against Chievo in which he got hurt 5-1 winners, and beat Udinese on Wednesday without him, 3-0.
The key player on the pitch for Lazio will be Milinkovic-Savic. The Serbian has been at the top of his game and a menace for opposing defences. His runs from midfield are terrific, and Milan has had a hard time picking up these sort of runs throughout the season.
While Milan have been playing better, Lazio have been in great form so this is a very interesting match-up. The Rossoneri will be at home and will want to avenge the embarrassing defeat they suffered to Lazio in Round 3.
Milan have been better recently, and seem like a more solid and cohesive unit. Some of their top players are also emerging and regaining their best form. The absence of Immobile will hurt Lazio and help the Milan back line. Lazio’s midweek match will also benefit Milan as they will be playing with fresh legs.
Prediction: Milan 2-1 Lazio