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

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan will be looking to build on their big midweek win in the Champions League when they take on Lecce at the Stadio Via del Mare on Saturday afternoon.

After four games without a win, Milan got three much-needed points against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday night in front of a packed San Siro to reignite their hopes in Europe, providing a big boost to spirits after a difficult period.

However, the challenge now is to transfer that positive energy into league form and to try and get the Scudetto challenge back on course, especially given the last Serie A game was a 1-0 home loss to Udinese.

Game date: Saturday, November 11
Kick-off time: 15:00 (CET)
Venue: Stadio Via del Mare
Referee: Rosario Abisso (VAR: Guida)

Team news

After the big victory in the Champions League against PSG, Milan must return to winning in the league and Pioli is expected to field near enough the same line-up that beat the French side.

In terms of absentees, the Rossoneri coach will not be able to call upon Marco Sportiello, Pierre Kalulu, Marco Pellegrino, Mattia Caldara and Ismael Bennacer, all of whom are recovering from long-term issues.

In addition to those five, Simon Kjaer and Christian Pulisic are not expected to take part in the game in Apulia because they have muscle issues that mean using them would be a risk. Pulisic was not called up by the USA either.

Regarding the team news, Pioli is expected to field a 4-2-3-1 system like his did against PSG, the formation that is known from the Scudetto-winning campaign of 2021-22.

According to the latest from MilanNews, the back four in front of Mike Maignan will be Davide Calabria, Malick Thiaw, Fikayo Tomori and Theo Hernandez, so the same as midweek.

Rade Krunic and Tijjani Reijnders are down as the double pivot with Ruben Loftus-Cheek taking up a more advanced role as he did so well a few nights ago. It is possible Yunus Musah could keep his place though, which would put Krunic on the bench.

The only definite change will be in attack where there will be no Pulisic, meaning Samuel Chukwueze should start in his place from the first minute. Rafael Leao will be on the other flank, with Olivier Giroud the centre-forward.

Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Calabria, Thiaw, Tomori, Theo Hernández; Krunić, Reijnders; Chukwueze, Loftus-Cheek, Leão; Giroud.

The opponents

Lecce preserved their top flight status after a rollercoaster 2022-23 season, and it was thanks to Milan-owned striker Lorenzo Colombo that they did as he scored the winning penalty away at Monza to seal their survival.

The Giallorossi finished five points above the dotted line in the end but it was clear that some reinforcements were needed to help the newly-installed coach Roberto D’Aversa.

Youssef Musah, Wladimiro Falcone, Nikola Krstovic, Mohamed Kaba, Marin Pongracic, Ilber Ramadani, Remi Oudin and Giacomo Faticanti were among the players that they paid a seven-figure sum for (as per Transfermarkt).

Lecce started the season brilliantly and found themselves third after five games following wins over Lazio, Salernitana and Genoa, but they haven’t won since.

Defeats against Juventus, Napoli, Torino and Roma have sparked a slide into the bottom half, while they were knocked out of the Coppa Italia after a 4-2 loss to Serie B side Parma on November 1.

D’Aversa has two injuries that affect what would probably be his first choice starting line-up, withPontus Almqvist the latest absentee after he suffered a hamstring injury last weekend against AS Roma. Jeppe Corfitzen is the other who will miss the game with a shoulder injury.

Lecce are likely to match Milan up by naming a back four with three midfielders and three forwards. Wladimiro Falcone will be in goal with Federico Baschirotto, Marin Pongracic, Antonino Gallo and Valentin Gendrey at the back.

Ylber Ramadani should sit at the base of the midfield, while Mohamed Kaba and Hamza Rafia will be the box-to-box players. Nikola Krstovic is the centre-forward, with Lameck Banda and captain Gabriel Strefezza out wide.

Probable Lecce XI (4-3-3): Falcone; Gendrey, Baschirotto, Pongracic, Gallo; Kaba, Ramadani, Rafia; Strefezza, Krstovic, Banda.

Head to head

Milan have played against Lecce 41 times in their history across all competitions, winning 25 of those with 14 draws and just two defeats, resulting in a 61% win rate.

The first meeting between the sides was back in August 1978 in the Coppa Italia back when there were group stages. Gianni Rivera and Alberto Bigon (two goals) netted in a 3-2 win for Nils Liedholm’s men.

Last season’s game at the Via del Mare was anything but straightforward though. Pioli’s side found themselves 2-0 down early on and needed second half goals from Leao and Calabria to rescue a draw.

The Rossoneri did win the reverse fixture 2-0 with Leao netting a brace, and their last defeat against Lecce was a 1-0 loss back in April 2006.

Match facts…

➤ Lecce have drawn more Serie A games against Milan than against any other side (W2 D12 L20). Milan have avoided defeat in 22 of their last 23 matches against Lecce in Serie A (W12 D10), with Lecce’s only win across that run coming in April 2006 (1-0 via an Axel Konan goal).

➤ Lecce are unbeaten in nine of their last 12 home games against Milan in Serie A (W1 D8), scoring in 10 of those matches.

➤ After winning 11 points from their opening five league matches this season (W3 D2), Lecce have picked up just two points across their last six Serie A games. Lecce have lost each of their last two, and could lose three Serie A matches in a row for the first time since April (run of six).

➤  Milan have lost two of their last three league games (D1), as many as in their previous 19 (W13 D4). The Rossoneri could suffer back-to-back Serie A defeats for the first time since February 2023 (run of three, against Lazio, Sassuolo and Inter).

➤ After their 0-1 defeat against Udinese last time out, Milan could fail to score in consecutive league matches for the first time since April 2022 (two games drawn nil-nil in that case, against Bologna and Torino).

➤ Milan have avoided defeat in nine of their last 10 league matches played immediately after a Champions League match (W6 D3), with their only defeat in that period coming against Spezia in May.

➤ Milan have received 29 cards in Serie A this season (27 yellow cards, two red cards) – only
Lecce (34) and Juventus (30) have received more.

➤ Nicola Sansone has scored five league goals against Milan, a joint-record for him against an opponent in Serie A (five goals also against Inter). Lecce could become the fourth different team with which he scores against Milan in the top-flight, while only one player has netted against the Rossoneri with more different clubs in Serie A (Enrico Chiesa, five).

Latest news about Nicola Sansone (Lecce) | BeSoccer

➤ Rafael Leão has scored more Serie A goals against Lecce than any other side: four goals in four
matches, including a brace in April. In 2023, he has been involved in the joint-most Serie A goals
for Milan (19 – 12 goals, seven assists), level with Olivier Giroud (14 goals, five assists).

➤ Leão could become the second Milan player to be involved in 20 goals in consecutive calendar years in Serie A across the last 20 seasons, after Zlatan Ibrahimovic (in 2011 and 2012).

Ones to watch

Leao proved against PSG that he remains the man for the big occasions, but now the challenge for him is to not begin another goal drought and to lead the team even during the less stimulating challenges (on paper at least).

Chukwueze was the most expensive signing of the summer and is yet to contribute to a goal, though he had an injury lay-off and is now back, so the mission to justify his price tag begins. Krunic in midfield needs to show why the RLC-Musah-Reijnders trio from midweek should not become Pioli’s first choice.

Krstovic has been Lecce’s most impressive performers so far this season with four league goals to his name, making him their top scorer, and there were even reports that he is attracting the interest of Milan. Almqvist is the only other player to score more than once, and he is out injured.

In midfield Ramadani is the key cog who must try protect the back four and keep shape, while Baschirotto is by now an experienced central defender who commands the back line and actually scored against Milan last season.


The win against PSG is likely to have taken a lot out of the squad and not having Pulisic from the start is disappointing, but Milan have no excuses and simply have to find a way to win this game to keep pressure on in the title race.

Lecce 0-1 AC Milan

Tags AC Milan Lecce Milan


  1. Rotate too much and you risk all the bench players not performing.

    Florenzi Tomori Thiaw Theo
    Reijnders Krunic
    Chuk RLC Leao

    Adli, and Okafor to come on in the second half.

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