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

By Isak Möller -

After the mid-week Champions League success, AC Milan will have to shift focus to the league as they will face Monza away from home on Saturday evening. It’s a special but also very important game for the Rossoneri.

Stefano Pioi’s men did really well to win the first leg against Tottenham, scoring early and then putting in a great defensive shift. Tomorrow, they will be looking to make it three out of three and thus further increase their confidence.

During his press conference, which you can read in full here, the manager admitted that the next result will be decisive to determine their true form. After two games, you can’t draw too many conclusions but it’s easier after three.

Team news

The likes of Mike Maignan, Alessandro Florenzi and Ismael Bennacer are still injured/not fully fit and will miss out on the game tomorrow. Davide Calabria has also been added to that list as he’s currently struggling with a hip injury.

The good news is that Fikayo Tomori has recovered from his injury and will be at Pioli’s disposal for the game. The Englishman will likely battle it out with Matteo Gabbia for a spot in the starting XI, with Simon Kjaer set for some rest.

It’s possible that we could see some changes in the midfield as well. Alexis Saelemaekers is expected to start given Calabria’s injury, but Junior Messias getting the nod can’t be ruled out. One of Aster Vranckx and Tommaso Pobega could also give Rade Krunic or Sandro Tonali some rest.

The formation will be the same as last time out, which is more or less a 3-4-1-2 shape. Olivier Giroud could also be rested tomorrow evening, with Divock Origi ready to take his place, but it’s not certain that Pioli will make this switch.

The big news is that Charles De Ketelaere could be given the nod from the first minute, with Brahim Diaz starting on the bench. It’s also worth noting that Calabria, Kjaer, Leao, Rebic and Giroud are one yellow card away from suspension.

Probable Milan XI (3-4-1-2): Tatarusanu; Kalulu, Tomori (Gabbia), Thiaw; Saelemaekers, Vranckx (Krunic), Tonali, Hernandez; De Ketelaere; Origi, Leao.

The opponents

Monza had a very tough start to the season with five consecutive losses, followed by a 1-1 draw against Lecce before they decided to sack Giovanni Stroppa. Raffaele Palladino was promoted from Primavera manager and managed to win his first three games (including against Juventus).

He then lost the following three games, but the overall trend has been positive as Monza have eight wins in 16 games under Palladino’s reign (4D, 4L). Currently in 10th place, Berlusconi and Galliani’s side have their eyes set on 7th place.

Monza will be without Emanuele Vignato and Carlos Augusto but will still be able to field their strongest XI against Milan tomorrow. Matteo Pessina will lead the attack and there is great responsibility on his shoulders, being the captain of the team and the big star.

It’s worth noting that Birindelli, Caprari, Izzo, Marlon, and Rovella are all one yellow card away from suspension. With a struggling Salernitana up next, though, it’s likely they will give their all tomorrow.

Probable Monza XI (3-4-2-1): Di Gregorio; Caldirola, Mari, Izzo; Donati, Rovella, Sensi, Ciurria; Pessina, Caprari; Petagna.

Head to head

Milan and Monza have only faced each other once before in the league and that was the reverse fixture, which the Rossoneri won by four goals to one. Brahim Diaz got a lovely brace and Divock Origi scored with a wonderful strike. Rafael Leao was the third scorer with a composed strike.

It was a rather one-sided game, truth be told, and Monza are hoping that they can put up a better challenge this time out. They are eight games unbeaten and also held Inter to a draw a few games back, so they are filled with confidence ahead of the clash.

Match facts…

➤ Following their first two defeats against sides from Lombardia in Serie A (vs Atalanta and Milan between September and October 2022), Monza are unbeaten against such opposition in the top-flight in 2023 (draw vs Inter and win vs Cremonese).

➤ Monza are on the longest run without defeat in Serie A (8: W4 D4). In addition, since Raffaele Palladino became Biancorossi manager (13 September) they have gained 28 points from 16 games (W8 D4 L4): only Napoli (45), Juventus (34) and Inter (32) have picked up more points during this period (one more than Milan, 27).

➤ Following their first three home Serie A defeats under Giovanni Stroppa, Monza are unbeaten in seven of their last eight games under Raffaele Palladino at the U-Power Stadium (W4 D3), drawing each of the last three.

➤ Following their 1-0 victory against Torino, AC Milan could keep two ‘clean sheets’ in a row in Serie A for the first time since August 2022 (vs Bologna and Sassuolo in that case).

➤ AC Milan have lost their last two away league matches without scoring and could lose three games in a row on the road for the first time since October 2017 (3), while the last time the Rossoneri failed to find the net in three consecutive away games in the competition was back to January 2005.

➤ No team has scored with more different Italian players than Monza this Serie A season: eight, level with Empoli.

➤ Andrea Petagna has scored (vs Sampdoria) and provided an assist (vs Bologna) in his last two league games; he could be directly involved in a goal in three Serie A matches in a row for the first time since March 2020 (for SPAL).

➤ Matteo Pessina, who grew up in the AC Milan youth sector, never played for the Rossoneri. He has had a hand in five goals in Serie A this season (three goals, two assists); only in 2019/20 has he racked up more goal involvements in a single top-flight season (seven goals in that case for Hellas Verona).

➤ Brahim Díaz’s only brace in the big 5 European leagues came in the reverse match against Monza on 22 October – those were also his last goals for Milan in Serie A.

➤ Only one of Olivier Giroud’s seven Serie A goals this season have come away from home (vs Sampdoria on 10 September from the penalty spot), having scored each of his previous six on the road before this run.

Ones to watch

All eyes are on Malick Thiaw at the moment after his brilliant performance against Tottenham. He’s really grown into the left centre-back role in the three-man defence and should he continue like this, then he will be a key player for the Rossoneri.

Further up the pitch, if the latest reports are to be believed, then Charles De Ketelaere has a point to prove. He came close to scoring against Tottenham but should have done better on that occasion, really in need of a goal now to break the negative trend.

As for Monza, it’s not exactly a secret Matteo Pessina will be a key player tomorrow to open up Milan’s midfield and expose the defenders. He’s a good passer and can’t be left with too much space either, as he has a good shot.

The youngster Nicolo Rovella can also be a lovely player on a good day and his passing needs to be shut down by Milan in their pressing phase. That would make life much more difficult for the home side.


Monza are on a very good run in the league and Milan have only just picked themselves up. However, the feeling is that Pioli’s men now have a lot of confidence and they remain the favourites for this game. While it won’t be easy, they should get over the line.

Monza 0-2 AC Milan

Tags AC Milan Monza Serie A


  1. The 3-4-2-1 suits a player like Dest over salemakers or messias. I hope Pioli recognizes this and plays him (I don’t think he is hurt).

    Messias is the person with the least set of qualities to patrol that flank now, which is too bad really because his story is so appealing.

  2. I thought that pioli figured out how bad calabria is at the moment,unfortunatelly it looks that he subbed him just because of injury,i am really disapointed now.

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