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

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan will be looking to make it three wins in a row across all competitions when they face Salernitana at the Stadio Arechi in their final game before Christmas.

Milan followed up their Champions League victory over Newcastle United last midweek with a comfortable 3-0 victory against Monza at San Siro in Sunday’s early kick-off, closing the gap to Juventus in the process.

Stefano Pioli insisted in his pre-match press conference that his side must not take their foot of the gas after a bit of a recent upturn, especially against a side scrapping for survival.

Game date: Friday, December 22
Kick-off time: 20:45 (CET)
Venue: Stadio Arechi
Referee: Daniele Doveri (VAR: Di Paolo)

Team news

The bad news from the win against Monza at the weekend was that two more injuries were picked up, with Noah Okafor sustaining a thigh problem that will keep him out for a few weeks and Tommaso Pobega potentially looking at surgery.

They join the other players that are currently in the treatment room, namely Marco Sportiello and Marco Pellegrino – both of whom are close to a return – as well as Pierre Kalulu, Malick Thiaw, Mattia Caldara and Yunus Musah.

According to the latest media reports, there should be a change from the three-man defence used in the last game, with Simon Kjaer and Fikayo Tomori the centre-back pairing in front of Mike Maignan. Davide Calabria should return at right-back after serving a suspension, with Theo Hernandez on the left.

The most doubts seem to be regarding the midfield where there are some absences to deal with. Tijjani Reijnders and Ruben Loftus-Cheek seem certain of a place, but the regista could be any one of Ismael Bennacer (currently favoured), Rade Krunic or Yacine Adli.

Then, Pioli should be able to call upon his first choice attacking trident of Christian Pulisic on the right, Olivier Giroud down the middle and Rafael Leao on the left flank.

Probable Milan XI (4-3-3): Maignan; Calabria, Kjaer, Tomori, Hernandez; Loftus-Cheek, Bennacer (Krunic), Reijnders; Pulisic, Giroud, Leao.

The opponents

Last season was Salernitana’s second consecutive campaign in the top flight of Italian football and they stayed up a lot more comfortably than in their first, eventually finishing 11 points above the relegation places.

During the summer window, efforts were made to strengthen the squad with the (permanent) signing of Boulaye Dia who had been outstanding on loan, while Lorenzo Pirola, Mateusz Legowski, Loum Tchaouna and Chukwubuiken Ikwuemesi the other players invested in.

Perhaps the most impactful addition though was Antonio Candreva, who joined from Sampdoria in a permanent deal for €500k.

However, their results this season are putting them in a situation where another miracle might be required. Paulo Sousa lasted until 10 October as head coach without having won a game, then Pippo Inzaghi took over.

The Granata have just one league win in 16 games with five draws, have scored just 12 goals but have let in 34. Their only victory came on 25 November against Lazio, with Candreva scoring the winner.

Inzaghi’s side need to start winning games fast, but he will have the majority of his squad to choose from for the game against his beloved former team. Federico Fazio is back from suspension after being sent off on the bench during their loss over Bologna.

The only injury absentee looks like being Guillermo Ochoa – who was almost unbeatable in the same fixture last season – given he has a shoulder problem picked up on international duty last month.

Probable Salernitana XI (4-3-3): Costil; Daniliuc, Gyomber, Pirola, Mazzocchi; Maggiore, Coulibaly, Martegani; Candreva, Dia, Tchaouna.

Head to head

Milan have played Salernitana eight times in their history, winning five of those games with two draws and one loss; a win rate of 62.5% therefore.

You have to go back to June 1948 for the last time that Milan lost a competitive game against Salernitana, and it was a 4-3 thriller at the Donato Vestuti.

In last season’s game at the Arechi – which was the first after the World Cup break – Milan raced out to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Leao and Sandro Tonali. Federico Bonazzoli got one back, but the Rossoneri claimed all three points.

The return fixture was a frustrating one for Pioli’s men though as they had to settle for a 1-1 draw. Giroud got the opener a few minutes after half-time, but Dia snatched a point.

Match facts…

➤ Salernitana have won only one of their eight matches played against Milan in Serie A, 4-3 at home
on 6 June 1948; there have also been two draws, including the most recent last 13 March, and five

➤ In all the four matches played at the Granata home between Salernitana and Milan in Serie A, each
of the two teams have always found the goal: 17 in total, for an average of 4.3 per match.

➤ Salernitana have lost 11 of the last 17 matches played in the league (1W, 5D), including the three
most recent games, after having suffered only one defeat in the previous 14 Serie A games (4W,
9D); the Granata could lose four consecutive games in the top-flight for the first time since
November-December 2021, with Stefano Colantuono as manager.

➤ Milan are winless in three away league matches (2D, 1L) and have never recorded four away
games in a row without a win under Stefano Pioli; in general, the last time the Rossoneri failed to
win four consecutive away matches in Serie A dates back to April 2019, with Gennaro Gattuso as

➤ Milan have collected nine points (3W, 1L) from their last four league games for an average of 2.3
points per match, after having only collected two points from their previous four (0.5 average per
match); in this last period, only Inter and Bologna (both 10) have done better than the Rossoneri in
Serie A.

➤ Milan are the team who have used the most under 20 players (born from 1/1/2003 onwards) so far
in Serie A this season (five) – Luka Romero, Chaka Traorè, Jan-Carlo Simic, Davide Bartesaghi and
Francesco Camarda.

➤ Milan are one of two teams, along with Genoa, who are yet to score a goal in injury time this
season; the last goal scored by the Rossoneri after the 90th minute of play in Serie A dates back
to 4 June, against Hellas Verona (goal by Rafael Leão at 91:04).

➤ All three goals scored by Lorenzo Pirola in Serie A were headed and arrived in 2023 in the first 10
minutes of the game; in the calendar year, only Bremer (four) has more headed goals among
defenders in Serie A.

➤ Christian Pulisic has been involved in nine goals (five goals, four assists) in his first 14 games
played with Milan in Serie A; among the players who have made their debut with the Rossoneri in
the last 20 seasons (since 2004/05), the American could become the fourth foreign player to
reach double figures for goal involvements in his first 15 top-flight matches, after Zlatan
Ibrahimovic (16 ), Ronaldo (11) and Ronaldinho (10).

➤ Jan-Carlo Simic scored his first goal in Serie A in on his debut against Monza last time out; the
Serbian could become the third defender in the three points per win era (since 1994-95) to score
in his first two matches in the top-flight, after Cristian Chivu with Roma in 2003, and Roberto
Carlos with Inter in 1995.

Ones to watch

For Milan, it will be interesting to see how the reshuffled defence looks with Kjaer back in a pairing and Calabria back in the fold, while if Adli or Krunic start in the regista position there will be a watchful eye on how they perform given they have been out of favour lately.

In the attacking trio, Leao is obviously the main threat and will be looking to build on a positive outing against Monza, while Giroud and Pulisic have of course also chimed in with important goals too.

Salernitana’s Iron Man this season has been Candreva, who is approaching 37 years of age but has started 14 games, racking up three goals and three assists.

The likes of Mazzocchi – who was linked with Milan – as well as Pirola, Gyomber, Bradaric, Coulibaly and Kastanos have all made double figures starts too. Dia is the main attacking threat, as he has four goals in Serie A.


If Milan want to remain in touching distance in the title race but also pad their lead in the top four, this has to be a game that they win. It has all the markings of a potential banana skin, but the attack has clicked a bit more in recent weeks and they should have enough to secure an early Christmas present.

Salernitana 1-3 AC Milan


Tags AC Milan Salernitana Milan


  1. Giroud and Reijnders starting doesn’t make any sense to me. Worst team in the league and these players have so many minutes under their belt relative to their age. Why not give Adli and Jovic the start???

  2. Giroud is the man to Start ,simple reason he is still proving difficult to leave out of the team .
    His form is good and more goals to come from him for sure..pioli knows what he is doing .
    Yes Olivier has 8 goals in the leauge and 4 assists , not a bad return at all ..if fact the team that looks like starting the match against salerttinana ,,is in good form and should register another 3 points .
    Yes that man Olivier Giroud to score yet again ,don’t rule that out ..I can see us going on a long winning run now …We are doing well in sera A ,and still in Europe and the coppa italia . Yes we can still end up with a very successful season .

  3. I liked the way we played with three at the back, and I think that Kjaer can use the third center back to cover his lack of pace.

    I also think that this is Salernitana, not Inter or Juve. I’d like Simic to get the start and play a full 90. He got his chance, he took his chance, and I’m not saying he’s now ready for a matchup with Lautaro Martinez, or that Thiaw has to worry about his spot when he returns, but let’s see what the kid can do at this level.

    If this match gets comfortable, and it should, I’d also like to see Camarda get some real minutes.

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