AC Milan will take on Torino in their second game of the season, following the 2-0 win against Bologna, and will do so in front of a sold-out San Siro. As always, they will be looking to grab all three points.
The Rossoneri certainly started the season well with the win at Bologna, trusting the new tactics and making the most of the new signings. Therefore, the enthusiasm for the first home game is very high and 72k are expected at San Siro.
Stefano Pioli spoke to the media earlier today about the clash, sharing his thoughts on the opening game against Bologna and the dangers of Torino. He also spoke about the outcasts in the team and his ideal squad list.
Game date: Saturday, August 26
Kick-off time: 20:45 (CEST)
Venue: San Siro
Referee: Maurizio Mariani (VAR: Valeri)
Pioli has a very healthy squad currently, with the exception of Ismael Bennacer, and will thus be able to rely on good depth once again. In fact, he has even been handed a boost as both Yunus Musah (back from suspension) and the new signing Marco Pellegrino will be called up for the clash.
As for the starting XI selection, Pioli was very pleased with how his players performed in the opening clash and above all their attitude. Therefore, he’s not expected to make any changes to the eleven and this isn’t exactly surprising.
Although Bologna had their fair share of chances, the defence held up pretty well and especially Malick Thiaw looked good. Davide Calabria could use the playing time as he, as well as Theo Hernandez, needs to get used to the inverted full-back role.
In midfield, Rade Krunic will be the deep-lying man as his move to Fenerbahce hasn’t (and most likely won’t) materialised. Tijjani Reijnders was one of the best players against Bologna, completing 28/28 passes, and will be looking to further cement his spot.
Christian Pulisic was the MOTM in the opener, as per our ratings, and he will certainly start on the right wing. He has had a lot more time with the team compared to Samuel Chukwueze and that shows, with Pioli aiming to integrate the Nigerian with patience.
In short, almost all of the starters against Bologna just strengthened their positions, including Olivier Giroud who was fantastic in the hold-up and link-up play. It makes total sense for Pioli to keep the same eleven, therefore.
Probable Milan XI (4-3-3): Maignan; Calabria, Thiaw, Tomori, Theo Hernandez; Loftus-Cheek, Krunic, Reijnders; Pulisic, Giroud, Leao.
Torino had a decent 2022/23 season under the management of Ivan Juric, finishing in tenth place after losing just one of their last six games (3W, 3D). As such, Il Toro decided to keep the Croatian as their manager for this season.
Notable departures this summer include Wilfried Singo, Ola Aina and Aleksey Miranchuk. On the other hand, they have bought the likes of Ivan Ilic, Nikola Vlasic and Valentina Lazaro on a permanent basis after their loan spell at the club last season. They have also added Adrien Tameze and Raoul Bellanova to the squad.
Juric thus has a decent squad to work with for the season and it remains to be seen where they will end up, though most believe their final position will be somewhere in the middle again. A prediction strengthened by the fact that they drew the opener against the newly-promoted Cagliari 0-0.
Just one change should be made to the XI, compared to the season opener, with Nemanja Radonjic replacing Yann Karamoh on the left-hand side. Therefore, the former Milan full-backs Ricardo Rodriguez and Raoul Bellanova are both expected to play from the first minute.
Probable Torino XI (3-4-2-1): Milinkovic-Savic; Schuurs, Buongiorno, Rodriguez; Bellanova, Ricci, Ilic, Vojvoda; Vlasic, Radonjic; Sanabria.
Head to head
Looking at the last games between these two sides, it’s clear that Milan have come out on top (on paper at least). However, even though the Rossoneri have won five of their last seven games against Torino, the four games since Juric took over have all been odd goal wins.
In the most recent clash between the two, Pioli’s men came into the game with zero wins in their previous five games (2D, 3L) and desperately need to prevail. Giroud was the big hero with a nice header in the second half and that was enough to seal the three points. You can take a look at the highlights from the clash below.
➤ AC Milan and Torino have drawn 56 of their 153 matches in Serie A, with both sides only recording more draws against Lazio in the top-flight (59 for the Rossoneri, 58 for the Granata).
➤ AC Milan have won five of their last seven Serie A matches against Torino (D1, L1), as many wins as in their previous 15 matches against the Granata in the competition (D8, L2).
➤ Torino’s last away win against AC Milan in Serie A came back in March 1985; the Rossoneri, indeed, are unbeaten in their last 27 home games against the Granata in the top-flight (W19, D8) – only against Hellas Verona do they have a longer ongoing streak of home games without defeat against a side in the competition (31).
➤ AC Milan have won each of their last four Serie A matches last registering a longer winning run in the competition between the end of 2021/22 and the start of 2022/23 (7 in a row); that streak ended on MD2 (draw against Atalanta).
➤ AC Milan scored eight goals in their last two home games of last season, five against Sampdoria and three against Hellas Verona; the Rossoneri could score at least three goals in three consecutive home Serie A games for the first time since July 2020 (against Juventus, Parma and Bologna in that case).
➤ Torino have kept five clean sheets in their last nine league games, but never two in a row in this period – as many shutouts as in their previous 25 matches in Serie A.
➤ Torino finished last season with four consecutive away league wins without conceding a goal; previously only in 1935 have the Granata registered four wins in a row with four away clean sheets in Serie A – indeed, they have never reached five in the top-flight.
➤ Among the teams that haven’t conceded a goal yet in Serie A in 2023/24, AC Milan have recorded the highest value of Expected Goals against (1.1) – on the other hand, only Bologna and Udinese have had a higher xG value than Torino (0.96) among the sides that haven’t scored.
➤ Olivier Giroud has scored in each of his last four Serie A appearances, only once in his career has he netted in more consecutive matches in the Big-5 European leagues: six games in a row between February and April 2015, with Arsenal in Premier League.
➤ In his three matches against AC Milan in Serie A, Antonio Sanabria has never scored; among the teams currently in Serie A against which he hasn’t netted, he has only played more games against Cagliari (seven) and Udinese (six).
Ones to watch
The answers are pretty obvious when it comes to Milan, although we could certainly name more than two for this clash. The first pick is Reijnders, who did really well between the lines in the opener and also bagged an assist in the process. His movement will likely be decisive again.
The second pick for Milan is Pulisic. He had a fantastic first game with the Rossoneri and certainly responded to the right-wing doubts after the pre-season. It remains to be seen if he will be able to replicate the display and lead the Rossoneri to another win. A notable mention, of course, is Leao who will be looking for the first goal.
As for Torino, they have two very good midfielders (on the ball) in Ricci and Ilic. Milan will have to be good in their pressing to avoid being played out by these two, and it will certainly be one of the keys in the game.
Up front, Sanabria has struggled historically against Milan and will also be looking to open his account for the season. Given the Rossoneri’s defensive doubts at times, it might be the perfect game for the Paraguayan.
It’s not going to be a walk in the park for Milan, at least based on the last few games against a Juric side, and they will have to be effective just as against Bologna. The latter and Torino both like to play attacking football, though, so that’s a good start.
Milan 2-1 Torino