Following the wins against Sparta Praha and Sampdoria, Milan will face Parma in the at San Siro tomorrow evening. Currently in first place, with four points to spare, they will be looking for yet another win.
Stefano Pioli’s side has certainly done well this season and even with key players injured, the team has performed on a high level. The youngsters who got the chance against Sparta, for example, helped seal the group win.
In his pre-match press conference, the manager warned that Parma are a strong side and that the Rossoneri can’t afford to change their attitude. He also revealed that Simon Kjaer and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will soon be back in action.
Game date: Sunday 13, December
Kick-off time: 20:45 (CET)
Venue: San Siro
Referee: Francesco Fourneau
As mentioned, Ibrahimovic and Kjaer are still recovering from their respective injury and they are hoping to be available for Genoa-Milan on Wednesday. Ismael Bennacer, meanwhile, has recovered from his muscle issues and will play from start tomorrow.
The latest report from Sky Italia suggests that it will be a 4-2-3-1 with Davide Calabria on the right, Matteo Gabbia and Alessio Romagnoli the centre-backs and Theo Hernandez on the left protecting Gigio Donnarumma.
Sandro Tonali has started the last two games but could be on the bench tomorrow. Bennacer is ahead of him in the race and will, therefore, most likely partner up with Franck Kessie in the midfield tandem.
In the forward department, there will be some changes to the ‘usual’ trio. Samu Castillejo is the favourite to start on the right after his recent success, though he will battle it out with Jens Petter Hauge for this spot.
Brahim Diaz will play in the middle as against Sampdoria, pushing Hakan Calhanoglu to the left. Ante Rebic will start up front as Rafael Leao isn’t 100% yet, hoping to get off the mark for the season.
Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Calabria, Gabbia, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Kessie, Bennacer; Castillejo (Hauge), Diaz, Calhanoglu; Rebic.
Parma have had a very tough start to this season, registering just two wins and losing four in the first ten games. They have won just one game in the last five games (3D, 1L) and it’s essential for them to turn the draws into three-pointers.
After selling Dejan Kulusevski back in January, the loan expired this summer and he joined Juventus to start his adventure for real. They lost some other good players as well and this has clearly affected them.
In addition to this, they decided to part ways with Roberto D’Aversa despite finishing 11th in the 2019/20 season, hiring Fabio Liverani instead. So far, the latter hasn’t had as much success and it remains to be seen if he can turn things around.
Their top goalscorer of last season, Andreas Cornelius (12 goals), has only played six games after struggling with some injuries. Furthermore, he’s yet to get on target this season and it’s clear that Parma have worsened.
That being said, looking at the probable XI, they do have some quality players and Milan will have to keep their concentration. Gervinho, for example, has four goals in nine games played this season.
Probable Parma XI (4-3-3): Sepe; Busi, Osorio, Alves, Gagliolo; Hernani, Scozzarella, Kurtic; Karamoh, Cornelius, Gervinho.
Head to head
Over the years, Milan have prevailed in this fixture as their last loss came back in the 2013/14 season. The Rossoneri have won five of the six games played since (1D), asserting their dominance against Gialloblu.
If there was any doubt before, therefore, it’s clear that the Rossoneri are favourites to win tomorrow’s clash. 16 points currently separate the two sides in the standings and Parma will be desperate to cause an upset and thus get their turning point.
When these two sides met in the summer, Kessie scored the equaliser with an absolute stunner from outside the box, after Jasmin Kurtic had given Parma the lead. Romagnoli then completed the quick turnaround with a lovely header.
Parma had several chances to score the equaliser but Milan were either saved by the frame of the goal or Donnarumma. Calhanoglu sealed the deal with a low-driven shot, keeping Milan’s good run going.
Match facts (via Opta):
➤ AC Milan have netted in each of their last 14 league games against Parma. Among the teams currently in Serie A, the Rossoneri have a longer streak with goals scored only against Lazio (16) and Cagliari (21).
➤ After failing to score in three of their first seven home Serie A games against Parma, AC Milan have netted in each of their last 19 matches at San Siro (W15 D3 L1).
➤ AC Milan have picked up 26 points in the current league season, setting a record after their first 10 Serie A games played in the three points for a win era – after 11 matches they gained more only in 2003/04 (27 points) and in 2005/06 (28).
➤ AC Milan are unbeaten in Serie A this season after 10 games played, in the last three seasons when they haven’t lost any of their first 11 league matches (1991/92, 1992/93 and 2003/04), they won the Scudetto.
➤ AC Milan have scored in each of their last 30 league games, only Juventus have netted with a longer streak in Serie A, on six occasions, the most recent ended in July 2020 (33).
➤ AC Milan are unbeaten in their last 11 home Serie A games (W8 D3), the last time the Rossoneri registered a longer streak without defeat at home was back in 2013 (13).
➤ Since June 2020, AC Milan have won the most matches in the Top-5 European leagues (17) – in addition, the Rossoneri and Atletico Madrid are the only two clubs unbeaten in the period.
➤ Parma have only won one of their last seven Serie A games (D4 L2), while in their previous seven matches they had won four (L3).
➤ Parma are one of the three sides AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored the most goals against in Serie A (alongside Roma and Palermo), 10 goals versus the Crociati, including a brace that gave Inter the Scudetto on 18th May 2008.
➤ Roberto Inglese hasn’t scored in his last five Serie A appearances and could register his longest barren spell streak since March 2019 (seven) – the Parma forward, however, netted two goals against AC Milan, both at San Siro.
Ones to watch
For Milan, it will be very interesting to see how the usual starters will get on after the 2-1 win against Sampdoria. If I have to pick one, though, it has to be Ante Rebic who is yet to get on the scoresheet this season.
The Croatian has performed very well, providing five assists, but ultimately the Rossoneri need him to score as well. Just like against Samp, when he got an assist, tomorrow is the perfect opportunity to find the turning point.
In addition to Rebic, Brahim Diaz must do better after a disastrous display last time out, which saw him get subbed off at half-time. He has shown glimpses of what he can do and it will be crucial for him to bounce back tomorrow.
As for Parma, Milan should be extra careful with Gervinho. The Ivorian has bagged four goals this season, as already mentioned, and still has his pace to rely on. He got closing to scoring against the Rossoneri more than once last time out.
The Rossoneri certainly don’t want to give him too much space on the flanks, as it would indeed be very beneficial for Cornelius in the box. They should also keep an extra eye on Hernani, who has a good passing foot at his disposal.
Milan are obviously the favourites to claim the three points, but there are no easy game this season. If you’re going to fight for the Scudetto, although this isn’t Milan’s goal, you need to win almost every game.
Milan have shown that they can do well even without Ibrahimovic and it will be important to start the game on the right foot. Hopefully, they will keep a clean sheet, but it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the away side score.
Prediction: AC Milan 2-1 Parma