Serie A preview: AC Milan vs. Cagliari – Team news, opposition insight, stats and prediction

By Isak Möller -

AC Milan will be looking to bounce back after the disappointing 3-3 draw against Genoa last time out, taking on Cagliari at San Siro this evening. Now with the full support of the fans, a good response is needed from Stefano Pioli’s men. 

It was yet another lacklustre performance by the Rossoneri as Genoa ultimately deserved to leave San Siro with one point. The protest of the Curva Sud likely had an impact, but Pioli’s men struggled from the get-go and the full backing of the fans likely wouldn’t have changed much.

Speaking to the media at his usual pre-match press conference, Pioli admitted that he’s a bit worried about the commitment of his players in this season finale. He wants to finish the season well and will only discuss his future after it.

Game date: Saturday, May 11
Kick-off time: 20:45 (CEST)
Venue: San Siro
Referee: Simone Sozza (VAR: Irrati)

Team news

The likes of Mike Maignan and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are still on the injury list, with the former now expected to be out for the rest of the season. In other words, Marco Sportiello will get a chance to shine as he has done in the most recent games.

Pioli has decided to make some significant changes to the starting, benching the likes of Davide Calabria, Fikayo Tomori, Theo Hernandez and Rafael Leao. A technical decision, per the latest reports, which says a lot especially since the captain only just returned from suspension.

Alessandro Florenzi was the best player for Milan against Genoa, but this time he will be on the left-hand side of the defence. Pierre Kalulu will start on the right instead, hoping to regain form after what has been a very tough season due to injuries.

Ismael Bennacer, Yunus Musah and Tijjani Reijnders are expected to be the midfielders tomorrow, with Pioli either using the 4-3-3 or the 4-2-3-1 formation. If the latter, Reijnders will likely be the one in a more advanced positive given that he has played in that role before.

The attacking trio, meanwhile, will consist of Samuel Chukwueze, Christian Pulisic and Olivier Giroud. It seems obvious that the American will be the one replacing Leao on the left, while the Nigerian will start in his usual position on the right.

Giroud scored his first two goals for Milan against Cagliari, at the start of the Scudetto season, and it will thus be a special one for him. However, even though he scored last time out, he also missed a big chance and many fans would like to see Noah Okafor in his place.

Predicted Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Sportiello; Kalulu, Gabbia, Thiaw, Florenzi; Musah, Bennacer; Chukwueze, Reijnders, Pulisic; Giroud.

The opponents

Under the guidance of the legendary Claudio Ranieri, it has been a tough season for the Cagliari faithful. From the third round to the 27th, they were more or less in the relegation zone for the entire time and for a long time, it looked like a move back to Serie B was on the cards.

However, a draw away at Udinese in mid-February changed the mood completely, with the Sardinian side losing just twice since then. There have been a lot of draws (6/11), as you would expect from a Ranieri team these days, but it has at least helped them revive hope of salvation.

Udinese are currently in 18th place with 30 points and Sassuolo are just one point behind in 17th place. Cagliari, meanwhile, have 33 points and thus need to continue their positive form against Milan to avoid slipping down again.

Ranieri’s men managed to clinch 2-2 draws against both Inter and Juventus just a few rounds ago, so their tactics are clearly not parking the bus against the big teams. Milan need to be wary of this, especially since they have been shaky at the back lately.

As for the starting eleven, the likes of Tommaso Augello and Gianluca Gaetano will miss the game due to suspensions, while Jakub Jankto and Nicolas Viola are out injured. The former Milan man Gianluca Lapadula is in the squad, but it seems he will start on the bench.

Predicted Cagliari XI (4-2-3-1): Scuffet; Zappa, Mina, Dossena, Obert; Deiola, Sulemana; Nandez, Oristanio, Luvumbo; Shomurodov.

Head to head

Milan have been tremendously successful against Cagliari in recent time, having won 9 of the last 11 league meetings against the Sardinia side (2D). The last win for the latter came in 2017, and the one before that in 1998 (!). In short, the Rossoneri are the clear favourites here.

The last time these two sides met at San Siro was earlier this season in the Coppa Italia. Milan prevailed 4-1 despite fielding a lot of youngsters, with Chaka Traore getting on the scoresheet. Luka Jovic bagged a brace and Rafael Leao then sealed the deal in injury time.

Interestingly enough, the last Serie A meeting at San Siro also finished 4-1 in favour of Milan, with Olivier Giroud (brace), Sandro Tonali and Rafael Leao/Brahim Diaz getting on the scoresheet. It was in the second round of the 2021-22 season which, of course, was the Scudetto campaign.

Key facts and stats

➤ Milan are the team that have beaten Cagliari the most in Serie A, with the Rossoneri beating the Rossoblù 46 times (D27 L8). The Rossoneri have won seven of their last eight matches against the Rossoblù, conceding just two goals

➤ Milan’s last home defeat against Cagliari in Serie A dates back to June 1997 (0-1 – goal by Muzzi). Since then, (1998/99 season onwards) the Rossoneri have picked up 17 wins and two draws against the Sardinians – with a points per game average of 2.79, the highest in the competition for a team against a single opponent (15+ games played in this period).

➤ Milan have failed to win any of their last four games in Serie A (D3 L1), their longest winless run since February 2023 when they went five games in a row without picking up a win (D2 L3) – the last Rossoneri coach to have two separate 5+ game winless runs was Filippo Inzaghi (three between 2014 and 2015).

➤ Milan have conceded five goals across their last two Serie A home games (three against Genoa, two against Inter), as many goals as in their previous 10. The Rossoneri have not conceded 2+ goals in three consecutive home games since January 2021 in the competition.

➤ Cagliari have drawn three of their last four Serie A matches (L1), drawing 12 games overall in the league this season. The Sardinians have not managed 13 draws in a single season in the competition since 2011/12 – finishing 15th that season.

➤ Cagliari have won only one of their last 22 Serie A away games – seven draws and 14 defeats completes this run which spans from March 2022 onwards. In this period, only Frosinone, with 18 matches, and Venezia, with six, achieved fewer wins than the Sardinians away from home.

➤ Milan (96%, 64/67) and Cagliari (95%, 35/37) are the two teams that have scored the most goals from inside the penalty box in Serie A this season. The Sardinians (as well as Roma) are the team who have conceded the most goals from inside the area percentage wise (93%, 56/60). Meanwhile, the Rossoneri are the team who have conceded the most goals from outside the box (10).

➤ Milan have scored 12 goals from corners this season, at least three more than any other team in Serie A and with only Arsenal (16) and Borussia Mönchengladbach (14) scoring more this way across the Big-5 European Leagues. Meanwhile, Cagliari have conceded nine this way, with only Frosinone conceding more in the Italian top-flight (11).

➤ Olivier Giroud’s first two goals in Serie A came against Cagliari, on 29 August 2021. The Rossoneri striker has scored two goals in his last three home matches in the top division, this comes after he had only scored one in his previous 11.

➤ Yerry Mina scored both of Cagliari’s last two goals in Serie A and he has scored in the last two matches played with the Sardinians. In the era of three points for a win no Rossoblù defender found the back of the net in three consecutive appearances in the competition.

Ones to watch

Marco Sportiello has been very good since replacing Mike Maignan between the sticks and with the Frenchman likely out for the rest of the season, this is an opportunity to shine. And with the defence being a bit shaky at the moment, his services will probably be needed.

In addition to the goalkeeper, Pierre Kalulu will need to show some signs of positivity after a season that has been ruined by injuries. The potential is certainly there, but a sale cannot be ruled out this summer and the next few games could be important in that sense.


As for the away side, Zito Luvumbo caused Milan a decent amount of problems in the reverse fixture, bagging a goal in the process. He has only scored a total of four goals this season, though, so clearly there is a way for the Rossoneri to stop him.

Alessandro Deiola is another important player for Ranieri’s team, not just in terms of his passing in the centre of the park but also on set pieces. He’s tall and strong, thus posing an aerial threat, and this is something Milan saw in the last league meeting with Cagliari at San Siro.


Milan are huge favourites on paper, more or less always coming out on top in this fixture, but if Cagliari ever were to break the negative, now would be the perfect time. The Rossoneri are low on morale and the Sardinians are fighting for survival, so that contrast will indeed be interesting to see.

Nevertheless, the feeling is that Pioli’s men will just about pull this off, but an upset cannot be ruled out either.

AC Milan 2-1 Cagliari

Tags AC Milan Cagliari Serie A

1 Comment

  1. Will Simic even be on the bench? He should at the very least, be a sub and I would actually start him in this match.

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