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

By Isak Möller -

AC Milan will be back in Serie A action on Sunday evening, taking on Monza away from home in the 25th round. Currently on a nine-game unbeaten run in the league, the Rossoneri will be eager to make it double digits and reclaim second place as well. 

Stefano Pioli and his men have indeed been flying high lately, beating Stade Rennes 3-0 earlier this week to secure a great result for the second leg. And with Juventus encountering some difficulties in the league, the Rossoneri now have their chance to regain second place.

The manager didn’t speak to the media at the usual press conference given the tight schedule, but he stated after the Rennes clash that it won’t be an easy game for the Rossoneri. To succeed, they simply have to continue on the same path.

Game date: Sunday, February 18
Kick-off time: 20:45 (CET)
Venue: Brianteo Stadium
Referee: Andrea Colombo (VAR: Marini)

Team news

Even though Calabria sustained an injury in the game against Napoli, things are looking up for Pioli and Milan on the injury front. Malick Thiaw has returned to full capacity and it shouldn’t be too long before Fikayo Tomori is back as well.

Of course, Samuel Chukwueze has also returned from the AFCON after losing the final to the Ivory Coast and the former Milan player Franck Kessie. He’s not expected to play from start tomorrow, but it’s important to have as much depth as possible.

As per the latest reports, it appears Thiaw will get the chance from start instead of Simon Kjaer, who has been struggling with some fatigue lately. The German international will partner up with Matteo Gabbia, who has been fantastic since his return from Villarreal.

In midfield, Tijjani Reijnjders is reportedly suffering a little fatigue and will not play from start tomorrow. Yacine Adli will get the chance instead and Ismael Bennacer is also set to replace Yunus Musah, but that was already an expected change.

Finally, Pioli could opt for a different attacking trio this time out as Noah Okafor could give Christian Pulisic some rest on the right flank. Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Rafael Leao, after the goals last time out, will keep their spots while Luka Jovic should replace Olivier Giroud in the No.9 role.

It should be noted that Alessandro Florenzi, Musah and Loftus-Cheek are just one yellow card away from suspension. They will have to be careful tomorrow, with Atalanta up after the Monza game.

Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Maignan, Florenzi, Thiaw, Gabbia, Theo Hernandez; Bennacer, Adli; Okafor, Loftus-Cheek, Leao; Jovic.

The opponents

It has been a season filled with ups and downs for Monza, which you would perhaps expect given the player material. With 30 points, they are currently sitting in 11th place and perhaps the CEO Adriano Galliani would have hoped for more at this stage.

On the other hand, they are just eight points behind Roma in sixth place, so they do have some positions to play for still. They are also unbeaten in the last three games and you could thus argue they are in good form, but the opponents were not the strongest and two of these games ended 0-0.

The manager Raffaele Palladino has done a good job considering the squad at his disposal, relying a lot on the stars Luca Caldirola, Roberto Gagliardini, Matteo Pessina and Andrea Colpani. The latter was a Milan fan as a kid, so it will be a special game for him.

As for the expected XI, there are no big surprises except the fact that Milan loanee Lorenzo Colombo should be on the bench. He started last time out and perhaps would have liked to showcase his qualities in front of the Rossoneri management, but it seems Milan Djuric will start instead.

Daniel Maldini, who ended his loan spell at Empoli, is also called up for the game but just like Colombo, it seems he will start on the bench.

It doesn’t look like Patrick Ciurria, who usually is a starter, will make it back to the game which should pave the way for Alessio Zerbin. Gianluca Caprari is another notable absence, having torn his ACL back in September.

Probable Monza XI (4-2-3-1): Di Gregorio; Birindelli, Izzo, Pabli Mari, Carboni; Pessina, Gagliardini; Zerbin, Carboni, Mota Carvalho; Djuric.

Head to head

Excluding a Coppa Italia clash in 1964, Monza have never beaten Milan before and have also lost all three encounters in the league. Considering recent form as well, the Rossoneri will be heading into this clash as the clear favouries, although some precedents should be highlighted.

Last season, Milan narrowingly came away with all three points away at Monza after Junior Messias scored the only goal of the game (see highlights below). Furthermore, in the Silvio Berlusconi Trofeo clash in the summer, the clash finished 1-1 and the Rossoneri prevailed on penalties.

Monza have also done very well defensively lately and might try to sit back to snatch a point, which could mean trouble for Milan as they have sometimes struggled against low-sitting teams.

Match facts…

➤ Milan have won each of their first three encounters against Monza in Serie A: the only teams they’ve beaten in each of their first four meetings in the top-flight are Ancona, Cremonese, Messina, and Pro Vercelli.

➤ Milan, along with Atalanta, are the two teams against which Monza have yet to collect any points in Serie A (three defeats in three against both).

➤ Monza are the only team that has not yet managed to win a Serie A game this season against an opponent in the top half of the table: the Brianza side have just four points in these matches, the result of four draws and seven defeats.

➤ Milan have scored exactly three goals in each of their last three away league matches, against Empoli, Udinese, and Frosinone: the Rossoneri have never scored more than two goals in four consecutive away matches in a single Serie A season (they did so in 1964, but over two different campaigns).

➤ Monza have kept a clean sheet in each of their last three league games (the last two of which ended in 0-0 draws against Udinese and Hellas Verona) and have never recorded a longer run of consecutive clean sheets in Serie A.

➤ Milan are the team that have earned the most points in Serie A since the Rossoneri finished the group stage of the UEFA Champions League (mid-December): in fact, they have collected 23 points in this period (W7 D2), one more than Inter. This run began with a game against Monza, winning 3-0 at San Siro.

➤ Only Roma (30) have conceded more goals than Milan (27) among teams currently in the top half of Serie A. Meanwhile, no team in the bottom half have conceded as few as Monza (28) – these two Lombard teams indeed have just a one-goal difference defensively, while offensively, the Rossoneri have scored more than double the goals compared to the Brianza side (47 v 21).

➤ No midfielder has scored more home goals in the current big five European leagues than Andrea Colpani: seven, level with Douglas Luiz of Aston Villa and Jude Bellingham of Real Madrid.

➤ Against Napoli, Théo Hernández scored his 26th goal in Serie A for Milan – he is now just one goal away from equalling Aldo Maldera (27); the second-highest scoring defender for the Rossoneri in the competition (ahead of them is Paolo Maldini, with 29 goals).

➤ Thanks to 11 goals and eight assists, Olivier Giroud has been involved in 19 goals in Serie A this season; only three players in the last 20 seasons have managed to be involved in at least 20 goals in a Serie A tournament after turning 36: Luca Toni (27 in 2013/2014 and 24 in 2014/2015), Francesco Totti (24 in 2012/2013), and Antonio Di Natale (21 in 2014/15).

Ones to watch

Rafael Leao got on the scoresheet for Milan with a lovely goal against Stade Rennes last time out. Having not scored in the league since September, the Portuguese international will now be eager to break the domestic deadlock (excluding Coppa Italia) as well.

In addition to the winger, it’s obvious that the Rossoneri fans should keep an extra eye on Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has been in red-hot form lately. He’s also one yellow card from suspension, though, and Pioli will want him available against Atalanta so he needs to be careful.

As for Monza, Colpani is the undisputed star of the team with seven goals and one assist this season. He also scored in the pre-season clash against Milan so he certainly has what it takes. The Rossoneri defence will have to push him to his right foot, which is his weaker one.

Matteo Pessina is another player who cannot be given too much space, being a very good player on the ball. He has perhaps not lived up to the hype created by the Euros in 2021, but he’s still a very good player that Milan must limit.


Milan are the clear favourites, there is no doubt about it, and the return of Thiaw should provide even more balance at the back. Combined with the fact that Leao is very keen on getting a goal, it feels like it could be a good evening for the Rossoneri.

Monza 0-2 AC Milan

Tags AC Milan Monza Serie A Stefano Pioli


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