Following the win against Bodo/Glimt in the Europa League qualifiers, Milan will be looking to continue their unbeaten run tomorrow evening, taking on Crotone away from home.
The game against the Norwegian side was far from easy for Stefano Pioli’s men, who struggled in the defensive phase. Luckily, they once again created a lot of chances and managed to score three goals as well.
In the league opener, Milan won by two goals to nil against Bologna, who will have to be considered a better opponent than Crotone. Then again, you would say the same thing about Bodo/Glimt, so the Rossoneri need to stay focused on the task.
Game date: Sunday 27 September
Kick-off time: 18:00 (CEST)
Venue: Stadio Ezio Scida
Referee: Luca Pairetto
Milan will have to deal without the likes of Alessio Romagnoli, Mateo Musacchio and Andrea Conti who are still recovering from their respective injuries. The defensive situation is indeed dire, which hopefully Paolo Maldini will sort on the market.
Ante Rebic is back in the squad after serving his suspension in the Europa League, predicted to start either on the left-wing or up front tomorrow. Lucas Paqueta and Rafael Leao have also been called up, the former after previously failing to convince the coach.
It will be a back four again with Davide Calabria and Theo Hernandez on the right and left respectively. The young Matteo Gabbia will partner Simon Kjaer at centre-back, just ahead of Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Further up the pitch, however, things are not as certain as recent reports have contradicted each other. However, the latest is that both Sandro Tonali and Brahim Diaz will play from the first minute, with Rebic up front.
Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1): G. Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Gabbia, Theo; Kessie, Tonali; Brahim Diaz, Calhanoglu, Saelemaekers; Rebic.
Crotone had a very good season last time out, earning promotion from Serie B to the top flight after finishing in second place with 68 points. Their striker, Simy, was the league’s top goalscorer with 20 goals and this obviously helped them.
However, Giovanni Stroppa’s side had a very poor start to their adventure in Serie A, losing the first game to Genoa by four goals to one. Both sides are expected to struggle in the bottom and to see such a difference in the scoreline was surprising.
The manager will deploy a 3-5-2 formation, hoping to cause some damage to Milan’s defence with the wing-backs. The already mentioned Simy will also be a very important player for the home side.
Former Milan player Nicolo Zanellato, who came through the youth ranks, is expected to play from the first minute for Crotone.
Probable Crotone XI (3-5-2): Cordaz; Magallan, Marrone, Golemic; Rispoli, Eduardo, Cigarini, Zanellato, Molina; Messias; Simy.
HEAD TO HEAD
The teams have only faced each other five times, four of which in Serie A, and Milan have won every game but one (draw). In other words, the Rossoneri are the clear favourites to win tomorrow and thus not just because of their impressive form.
Furthermore, Milan are unbeaten in their last 13 Serie A games against newly-promoted teams (W8 D5), scoring in each of their last nine meetings — their last defeat dating back to April 2018 against Benevento.
That being said, it most likely won’t be a walk in the park for Pioli’s men, who after all are struggling with a few key absences.
Match facts (via WhoScored):
- AC Milan have scored at least 2 goals in 12 of their last 13 matches (Serie A).
- There have been over 2.5 goals scored in AC Milan’s last 6 away games (Serie A).
- AC Milan are undefeated in their last 13 matches (Serie A).
- AC Milan have been winning at both half time and full time in 5 of their last 6 matches (Serie A).
- AC Milan are undefeated in their last 5 matches against Crotone in all competitions.
ONES TO WATCH
The main threat for Crotone has to be Simy, their top goalscorer last season. Although he isn’t the fastest player in the team, he uses his physical strength to give the defenders a hard time in the box. With the wing-backs overlapping, he will be a threat in the box.
As for Milan, the most in-form player is pretty obvious, namely Hakan Calhanoglu. He ran the show last time out with two goals and one assist, now hoping to get off the mark in the league as well.
Hakan Calhanoglu has both scored and assisted in 5 out of his last 9 games with #ACMilan in all competitions (including EL qualifiers).
— MilanData📊 (@acmilandata) September 24, 2020
Should he perform as he did on Thursday evening, then Pioli will be a lucky man. In addition to the Turk, fans should also keep an eye on Ante Rebic who will be eager to do well after sitting out the Europa League clashes (suspension).
Milan can’t afford to underestimate Crotone and after Thursday’s scare, I’m pretty sure they won’t. They should be able to claim the three points quite comfortably, but unfortunately I don’t think they will keep a clean sheet.
Prediction: AC Milan 3-1 Crotone