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

By Isak Möller -

AC Milan will take on Roma in the 17th round of Serie A tomorrow and the Rossoneri are eager to build on their win against Salernitana. This time out, however, it’s expected to be slightly tougher. 

Milan really started 2023 in the best way possible as they won their game against Salernitana, while Napoli lost against Inter. The gap between the two is thus just five points, meaning the Scudetto race is well and truly alive. If you have a hunch you know who will win it, have a wager with VN88.

In his press conference, Stefano Pioli admitted that tomorrow’s clash will be tough due to the quality of Roma but also expressed great optimism. Despite the injury struggles, the players he currently has available have shown what they can do.


Game date: Sunday, 8 January
Kick-off time: 20:45 (CET)
Venue: San Siro
Referee: Davide Massa (VAR: Irrati)


Team news

Milan have quite an extensive injury list and this should not be understated, even if Pioli has more than capable players at his disposal. In any case, the injured are the following: Alessandro Florenzi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Rade Krunic, Mike Maignan, Junior Messias, Divock Origi and Ante Rebic.

The above means that Ciprian Tatarusanu will be entrusted with the spot between the sticks once again. He actually did quite well against Salernitana, although he didn’t have much to do as the Salerno side had just one shot on target.

Davide Calabria was back in league action last time out and certainly showed his importance in this Milan team. He added great stability to Milan’s defence and his return is instrumental for the Rossoneri in their Scudetto pursuit.

As you would expect, the starting XI will be the same tomorrow, which is certainly understandable given just how well Milan played against Salernitana. On the other hand, this means Charles De Ketelaere will start on the bench again.

The Belgian had a good cameo in the second half last time out and was, frankly, unfortunate not to get on the scoresheet. He had two very good efforts that were brilliantly saved by the goalkeeper, but either way he will get some minutes tomorrow.

Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Tatarusanu; Calabria, Kalulu, Tomori, Theo Hernandez; Tonali, Bennacer; Saelemaekers, Diaz, Leao; Giroud.


The opponents 

Roma made a few notable signings in the summer, such as Paulo Dybala and Andrea Belotti, but their season hasn’t just been good news. While consistency has been lacking at times, they are just six points behind Milan (though in 6th).

Prior to the World Cup break, they played two 1-1 draws (vs. Sassuolo and Torino) and those two games certainly hurt their confidence a lot. In addition, they lost the derby to Lazio 0-1 earlier in the season but also managed to beat Inter away from home.

In short, it’s pretty much what you would expect from Jose Mourinho’s side. The manager has had great success in his career but the feeling, at least based on the last few years, is that he struggles to get his teams to perform consistently.

Unlike Milan, Mourinho pretty much has a full squad available bar the absence of youngster Ebrima Darboe and the veteran Gini Wijnaldum. It will be a strong XI for the Giallorossi tomorrow, therefore, with the dangerous trio of Niccolo Zaniolo, Dybala and Tammy Abraham leading the line.

Probable Roma XI (3-4-2-1): Patricio; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Celik, Cristante, Pellegrini, Zalewski; Zaniolo, Dybala; Abraham.

 


Head to head

Milan have been quite successful against Roma in recent time, winning their last three encounters with them. In addition, they have won three of their last four home clashes against the Giallorossi.

This is the first encounter of the season and thus the last clash between the two dates back to January 2022. In spite of an injury crisis at the back, Milan managed to win 3-1 thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud, Junior Messias and Rafael Leao.

Match facts…

➤ AC Milan have won their last three Serie A meetings against AS Roma and they could win four in a row for the first time since February 1990 (five in a row under Arrigo Sacchi). The Rossoneri could also find the net in 10 successive top-flight games against the Giallorossi for the first time since 1972 (12).

➤ AS Roma are the side against which AC Milan have won the most Serie A matches (78 out of 174); on the other hand, AS Roma have scored 95 away goals against the Rossoneri in the competition, against no other side have they netted more (95 also against Lazio).

➤ AC Milan have won three of their last four Serie A home meetings against AS Roma (D1), as many as they had in their previous 12 (D2 L7). They have conceded goal in 16 of their last 18 against the Giallorossi at home, having kept a clean sheet in eight of the previous 16.

➤ AC Milan have won 10 of their last 11 Serie A home games (L1): since April 2022, only Inter (11) have won more home matches in the competition.

➤ AS Roma drew their last Serie A away match and could draw two in a row for the first time since September 2019 (four). They have also kept clean sheet only once in their last seven Serie A matches away from home, having kept three clean sheets in their previous seven.

➤ After their victory against Salernitana, AC Milan could win their first two calendar year Serie A matches two years in a row for the first time since 2003-2004.

➤ AC Milan have scored the most open play goals in Serie A this season (28), whilst AS Roma have scored the highest percentage of set-piece goals (42% – 8/19).

 

➤ Stefano Pioli is the only manager to win 100% of his Serie A meetings against Jose Mourinho, among the coaches the Portuguese has faced more than once in the competition.

➤ Rafael Leao, has been involved in eight goals in his last 10 Serie A appearances in January (five goals, three assists); furthermore, after his strikes against Fiorentina and Salernitana, the AC Milan striker could find the net in three league appearances in a row for the first time in the Italian top-flight.

 

➤ Paulo Dybala has been involved in 12 Serie A goals against AC Milan (seven goals and five assists) — only against Udinese has he had more in the competition (17). Although he has scored only one league goal against them at the Meazza against them: his first one, for Palermo, on November 2nd, 2014.


Ones to watch

For the home side, Olivier Giroud will be eager to open his account for 2023 and after a good World Cup, as well as a good Salernitana display in parts, he has the confidence. Roma will have to watch out for him, in other words.

It’s impossible to not mention Rafael Leao in this section, especially given just how well he did last time out. The Portuguese winger is seemingly in the form of his life and he will certainly be a key for Milan tomorrow.

As for Roma, the trio up front will have to be dealt with well by the Milan defence. Paulo Dybala just needs a little space to find the back of the net and he also has very good passing, hence why the defenders must stay close to him.

Since Leao is a key player for Milan, Gianluca Mancini will get the tough task of marking him. The Italian is known to be reckless at times but it will be important for him to stay calm tomorrow, rather than lunge at Leao because then the winger will thrive.


Prediction

It will certainly be a tough game for Milan, but if they can replicate the spirit they showed last time out then they will come a very long way. Of course, a little more composure would be fantastic as well, especially since they won’t get as many chances this time out.

Milan 2-1 Roma

Tags AC Milan Roma Serie A

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