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

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan will receive a stern test of their top four mettle when they travel to face AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday evening.

Milan come into the game buoyed by their win against Lecce last weekend and with Lazio and Juventus both having suffered defeats, as well as their opponents for this game who were beaten by Atalanta.

In his pre-match press conference Stefano Pioli stated his belief that the race for the Champions League places will go right down to the final game of the season, but knows his side can take a big step forward with a positive result in the capital.

Game date: Saturday, April 19
Kick-off time: 18:00 (CEST)
Venue: Stadio Olimpico
Referee: Orsato (VAR: Di Paolo)

Team news

The main headlines in the build-up to this game have been regarding whether Olivier Giroud will be fit enough to start given that he missed the 2-0 win over Lecce with Achilles and calf discomfort.

However, the sensations are positive with the Frenchman having done training with the rest of the squad on Thursday and Friday, and Pioli also stated in his presser that he has recovered from his issue and will stay.

In terms of absences, the Milan boss also confirmed that there are three players who will not make the trip. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is out with a calf issue, while Tommaso Pobega is recovering from a broken rib and Alessandro Florenzi has a fever.

According to MilanNews and Sky, Pioli will stick with the modified version of the 4-2-3-1 which he fielded to try and neutralise Luciano Spalletti’s Napoli, coming away with 4-0 and 1-0 wins plus a draw in Naples which sealed progress to the Champions League semi-finals.

Compared to the victorious eleven against Lecce at San Siro, Pioli should make at least four changes. On the right there will be the return of Davide Calabria, who served his suspension on Sunday, and Pierre Kalulu thus drops to the bench.

Simon Kjaer should come back into the defence too replacing Malick Thiaw, with Fikayo Tomori and Theo Hernandez then completing the back four in front of Mike Maignan.

In the middle of the field, it is very likely that Sandro Tonali, Ismael Bennacer and Rade Krunic all play together to try and restrict the space available to Jose Mourinho’s side.

In attack, Olivier Giroud will resume his starting position while there should be Brahim Diaz and Rafael Leao on the wings thus meaning that Junior Messias and Ante Rebic move back to the bench.

Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Calabria, Kjaer, Tomori, Theo Hernandez; Tonali, Bennacer; Brahim Diaz, Krunic, Leao; Giroud.

The opponents

It has been an intriguing season for Roma so far, as they found themselves as low as seventh in the table just before the halfway point but have come surging back in the second half of the campaign and were as high as third prior to their 3-1 defeat to Atalanta on Monday.

That result saw them drop to fifth and allowed Milan to jump back into the top four by virtue of goal difference, but after the draw at San Siro in the reverse fixture the possibility of sealing head-to-head advantage must be tempting for both teams.

The Giallorossi brought in the likes of Nemanja Matic, Zeki Celik, Mile Svilar, Paulo Dybala, Andrea Belotti, Ola Solbakken, Georginio Wijnaldum and Diego Llorente in the summer.

Meanwhile, Jordan Veretout, Cengiz Under, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pau Lopez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were among the exits as Mourinho continues to try and overhaul the squad.

Roma come into the game with five wins and four losses in their last nine games, and without a draw since February 11 when they were held by Lecce.

Just as Giroud’s fitness has been the subject of speculation, Paulo Dybala sustained a knock in Monday’s game and there have been doubts about his condition, though Sky are reporting that he will not be able to start the game.

The other absentees include full-back Rick Karsdorp, centre-back Chris Smalling, midfielder Gini Wijnaldum and defender Diego Llorente.

They report that Mourinho will continue with a 3-4-2-1 system and that Rui Patricio should be in goal with Gianluca Mancini, Marash Kumbulla and Roger Ibanez as the back three.

Nicola Zalewski and Leonardo Spinazzola are tipped to be the wing-backs with Bryan Cristante (formerly of Milan) and Nemanja Matic in midfield.

Lorenzo Pellegrini should be in the duo with Stephan El Shaaraway (also ex-Milan) behind Andrea Belotti, the boyhood Rossoneri fan.

Probable Roma XI (3-4-2-1): Patricio; Mancini, Kumbulla, Ibanez; Zalewski, Cristante, Matic, Spinazzola; Pellegrini, El Shaarawy; Belotti.

Head to head

Roma are the team that Milan have played the fourth-most games against in their history, with 194 previous meetings between the teams. In that spell, the Rossoneri have won 82 of them, with 61 draws and 51 defeats, a win rate of 42.3%.

The most recent clash at the Olimpico came back in October 2021, with a free-kick from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a penalty from Franck Kessie enough to render El Shaarawy’s late striker a consolation in a 2-1 win for Pioli’s men.

However, the game earlier this season still haunts Milan, as they were 2-0 up thanks to goals from Pierre Kalulu and Tommaso Pobega before collapsing in the final minutes as Roma stole a 2-2 draw.

That result sparked a seven-game winless run for the Diavolo that not only derailed any shot at a Scudetto defence but threw a top four spot into jeopardy, the effects of which are still being felt now.

Match facts…

➤ Milan have won four of their last six Serie A matches against Roma (D2), as many victories as in the previous 16 meetings (D5 L7). Indeed, the Rossoneri could go unbeaten in seven consecutive league matches against the Giallorossi for the first time since 1996 (run of 17).

➤ Milan have won their last two away league games against Roma and have not managed three consecutive away wins against the Giallorossi since 1990 (run of four).

➤ In 2023, Roma have kept seven clean sheets in eight home league matches – in the same period, no team of the big five European leagues have achieved so many clean sheets at home.

➤ Milan have kept a clean sheet in three of their last four league games (W2 D2), as many clean sheets as they had in their previous 13 Serie A matches (W5 D3 L5).

➤ Milan have lost four of their last seven away games in Serie A (W2 D1), as many defeats as in their previous 54 away games in the competition (W38 D12).

➤ Milan have conceded the most headed goals in Serie A this season (10), while only Napoli (2) have conceded fewer headed goals than Roma (3).

➤ Roma have scored the most goals during the injury time in Serie A this season (6) and are one of four sides yet to concede in the same span.

➤ Thanks to seven goals and five assists, Paulo Dybala has been involved in 12 goals against AC Milan in Serie A; only against Udinese (17) has the Roma striker been involved in more goals in the competition.

➤ Lorenzo Pellegrini has scored in each of his last three matches for Roma in all competitions; this is already his best scoring streak with the Giallorossi – against Milan he has scored just one Serie A goal, in his first match against them back in October 2016 for Sassuolo.

➤ With his brace in the last matchday, Rafael Leão is enjoying his best season in terms of goals scored in Serie A (12 goals) – including assists, he has been involved in 18 goals so far, just one fewer than the 19 of the last league campaign (11 goals, 8 assists).

Ones to watch

For Milan, the main protagonist seems obvious: Rafa Leao. He has amassed six goal contributions in six games since the beginning of April and is hitting the kind of form he did during the run-in last season, so Mancini faces a tough battle keeping him quiet.

Elsewhere, Giroud will be hoping to keep up his reputation of being the man for the big occasion, and Tonali netted almost a year ago on the same ground but against Lazio in a win that was huge in the Scudetto victory. Maignan, Theo and Tomori will of course be vital too.

Dybala and Abraham have combined for 27 goals this season in the league but both are tipped to start on the bench, so Pellegrini will have to carry the weight of the attack. The Italian has four goals and five assists this campaign so far.

El Shaarawy would love another goal against his former club no doubt, as would Belotti against the team he supports, but it feels like Cristante-Matic versus Tonali-Krunic could play a big part in deciding the outcome of the game.


This feels like a game with a huge amount on the line, and a defeat for either could be very damaging in the respective top four pursuits, which is why we are leaning towards a hard-fought draw.

Roma 1-1 AC Milan

Tags AC Milan Roma Milan


  1. If maignan manage to keep clean sheet, giroud, Diaz or leao should managed to score at least one.

    I would bet on Milan win.

  2. Despite prior reservations, I think anything less than a win will be a disappointment given the multitude of absences for Roma. Of course, we’ve dropped points to lesser opponents, so anything can happen. Either way this is a huge fixture, as is the Inter-Lazio match on Sunday. If results go our way we could go 3 points clear of Roma and owning the head-to-head tiebreaker, and five point clear of Inter, with 6 games left. We’d be firmly in the driver’s seat for top four, and be able to afford a slip-up against Lazio or Juventus.

  3. I think milan will go if not winning all games at least 5 or 6 out of the last 7 just like last year.
    No room for errors or missteps, let’s air to finish 2nd

  4. “Florenzi has a fever”. A while back that’d have been reported as “Florenzi has covid.” I see us winning 3-0.

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