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

By Isak Möller -

Following the disappointing mid-week defeat against Roma, AC Milan will have to shift focus to the league and the clash against Sassuolo. However, with the league no longer being a priority, the reserves will be given the chance for this one. 

Milan had won seven games on the trot before taking on Roma in the first leg of the Europa League quarter-final. The Giallorossi were tactically superior throughout the game and thus clinched an important win ahead of the reverse fixture, scheduled for next week.

Given that the schedule has been so tight lately, Pioli didn’t have his usual pre-match press conference earlier today. However, he made it clear to the players at Milanello that the Rossoneri made too many errors which certainly cannot be repeated.

Game date: Sunday, April 14
Kick-off time: 15:00 (CEST)
Venue: Mapei Stadium
Referee: Davide Massa (VAR: Guida)

Team news

Pierre Kalulu and Tommaso Pobega are the only ones who will miss the game due to injury, but more on that below. Fikayo Tomori has returned from his suspension and will play from start, but he needs to be careful to avoid a derby suspension.

As claimed by several outlets, Pioli is preparing for some heavy rotation by replacing eight/nine of the players who started against Roma. Clearly, he wants the stars to preserve some energy ahead of what will be a crucial game at Stadio Olimpico.

Mike Maignan is struggling with fatigue and will thus miss the game. Marco Sportiello will be given the nod instead, making his third start for Milan. The goalkeeper is very experienced so there should be no issues on that front (hopefully).

Alessandro Florenzi, Simon Kjaer and Tomori will be the changes at the back as Theo Hernandez looks set to keep his spot. The Frenchman is incredibly important and wasn’t exactly that involved against Roma, so his energy levels are probably decent still.

In midfield, it looks like it could be a three-man shape with Yunus Musah, Yacine Adli and Tijjani Reijnders playing from the first minute. The Dutchman will is still competing with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, though, so it remains to be seen who will get the nod.

Up front, the reserves will get the chance with Samuel Chukwueze, Luka Jovic and Noah Okafor leading the line. The former is arguably getting close to a starting spot, having played really well in recent weeks. He should have had an assist against Roma after some fantastic work, but Olivier Giroud misses from close range.

Overall, the eleven is rather expected as Milan don’t have much to play for in the league, while Sassuolo have been struggling a lot.

Predicted Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Sportiello; Florenzi, Kjaer, Tomori, Theo; Musah, Adli; Chukwueze, Reijnders/Loftus-Cheek, Okafor; Jovic.

The opponents

As mentioned, Sassuolo have struggled a lot this season and currently sit in 19th place, albeit just two points from safety. They have lost a whopping 18 out of their 31 games this season (58%) and have won just six games, which is far from good enough.

Alessio Dionisi was sacked at the end of February and Davide Ballardini was brought in to salvage the situation. In his first five matches in charge, Sassuolo have won one, drawn two and lost two games. Not terrible, but more is needed before the end of the season.

“I think that when you meet a team like Milan, or the other big teams that have three games in a week, it’s a slight advantage. However, Milan still have 26-27 players and they are all worthy of the shirt, so even the reserves will do well. It will be a difficult game,” the manager stated in his presser.

The likes of Domenico Berardi, Samu Castillejo and Marcus Pedersen will be in the stands tomorrow due to injuries. The absence of their captain is obviously a huge blow and his replacement, namely Gregoire Defrel, has scored just one goal this season.

Sassuolo will have to play with their lives on the line and they are surely sensing an opportunity, given Milan’s heavy rotation. Key players such as Matheus Henrique and Armand Laurinte will have to step up, otherwise it will be difficult indeed.

Predicted Sassuolo XI (4-2-3-1): Consigli; Toljan, Erlic, Ferrari, Doig; Racic, Henrique; Defrel, Thorstvedt, Lauriente; Pinamonti.

Head to head

Most of us will remember that Sassuolo used to be the ‘boogey team’ for Milan when they first got promoted to the first tier. While it seemed that trend had come to an end, the H2H stats point to a very tight fixture, with the Rossoneri above all struggling at San Siro.

Milan have won two of the last six encounters, with Sassuolo winning three and one ending in a draw. The dominant display to secure the Scudetto at Mapei Stadium is still in the minds of every Milanista, though, so the confidence isn’t lacking.

Furthermore, the Rossoneri broke ‘the San Siro spell’ in the reverse fixture this season as Christian Pulisic scored the only goal of the game. It was a great pass by Ismael Bennacer to pick out the American, who has been crucial this season.

The last time at Mapei Stadium, meanwhile, the game ended in a scoreless draw after Mike Maignan saved a penalty.

Match facts

➤ Sassuolo have scored 30 goals against AC Milan in Serie A; only against Genoa (34) have they netted more in the Italian top-flight; however, 16 of those goals came in the first seven matches, while they’ve scored 14 goals in the last 14.

➤ After winning their first three Serie A home matches against AC Milan between 2014 and 2016, Sassuolo have collected just one point in their last seven matches at MAPEI Stadium against them; only against Napoli (eight) are the Neroverdi on a longer streak of home matches without winning than against the Rossoneri (seven) in the Italian top-flight.

➤ Sassuolo have avoided defeat in three of their last four Serie A matches (W1 D2), as many games without defeat as in their previous 14 games played in the top-flight (W1 D2 L11).

➤ AC Milan have collected 68 points after 31 matches played this Serie A campaign; one more than the 67 they obtained at this stage in 2021/22, when they won the Scudetto at the end of the season. In the three points per win era, only in 2003/04 have the Rossoneri collected more than 70 points after 32 games played in a single season in the Italian top-flight (79).

➤ Sassuolo have scored in each of their last 10 Serie A home games, while only three times have the Neroverdi recorded a longer streak at the MAPEI Stadium in the Italian top-flight: 11 matches in a row between May 2015 and January 2016, 11 between September 2019 and February 2020 and 14 between December 2020 and May 2021.

➤ AC Milan have won their last three away Serie A games, while the last time they recorded a longer streak in the Italian top-flight was between September and October 2021 (four in that case) – moreover, the Rossoneri have collected six away victories in 2024, fewer than only Bayer Leverkusen (seven) in the big five European leagues.

➤ AC Milan are the team that have registered the highest number of shots on target in 2024 in Serie A (80). In this period, only Lazio (44), Monza (43), Empoli (42) and Salernitana (38) have had fewer than Sassuolo (45).

➤ AC Milan (nine) and Sassuolo (eight) are the two teams that have conceded the most goals from outside the area in this Serie A season. Across the big five European leagues in 2023/24, only Burnley (13), Sheffield United (11) and Darmstadt (10) have conceded more from outside the box (Borussia Mönchengladbach also on nine).

➤ Sassuolo’s Nedim Bajrami has scored more Serie A goals against AC Milan than against any other opponent (2), while he scored and assisted last time out in the competition against Salernitana. Only once has he scored in two games in a row in the league, doing so between December 2021 and January 2022 when he played for Empoli (in that case, the first was against Milan).

➤ In the last Serie A matchday against Lecce, Christian Pulisic scored his 10th goal this season in the Italian top-flight: excluding penalties, the last AC Milan midfielder to score more than 10 goals in a single Serie A campaign was Kaká in 2005/06 (11).

Ones to watch

Since Maignan is out for this game, it will be very interesting to see Sportiello between the sticks. He has played many Serie A games in his career and is known as a very reliable goalkeeper. However, it is almost always tough for goalkeepers who haven’t played for a long time.

In addition to Sportiello, Chukwueze will have a leading role for Milan tomorrow as he has been in tremendous form lately. This is also his chance to show Pioli that he should start against Roma in the reverse fixture as well.

As for Sassuolo, Lauriente has shown in the past that he can be near unbeatable in 1v1s. However, he has also been very inconsistent and it remains to be seen which side of him will turn up tomorrow. In any case, a player to keep an eye on.

Bajrami is another player who has had some success against Milan in recent years, albeit primarily with Empoli. He’s not expected to start either, but perhaps he could come off the bench and cause some havoc for the Rossoneri.


Milan are the clear favourites despite the disappointing defeat to Roma and the heavy rotation. Sassuolo have been very poor this season and anything other than a win would be a huge failure for the Rossoneri. Champions League qualification can be mathematically secured, so let’s get it done.

Sassuolo 0-2 AC Milan

Tags AC Milan Sassuolo Serie A


  1. Heavy rotation and i think roma defeat took a toll on morale. Its gonna be a disappointing game. Either 0-0, 1-1 draw or a 1-0 loss. Hoping to be proven wrong.

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