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

By Isak Möller -

Following the very disappointing draw at home to Salernitana, AC Milan will be looking to make use of the energy from the Champions League draw to beat Udinese on Saturday. 

The Champions League draw, which took place earlier today, put Milan against Napoli in the quarters and the winner will face either Benfica or Inter. In short, the draw heavily favoured the Italian teams.

However, Milan will have to shift focus or at least make use of that positive energy to take on Udinese tomorrow. Speaking at the press conference, Stefano Pioli admitted that tomorrow’s clash will be very physical and thus not easy.

Game date: Saturday, March 18
Kick-off time: 20:45 (CET)
Venue: Dacia Arena
Referee: Daniele Doveri(VAR: Nasca)

Team news

The only injury that Pioli has to deal with at the moment is that of Junior Messias. The Brazilian might be back for the quarter-finals of the Champions League, but the situation is uncertain and fortunately, the manager has a few replacements.

Olivier Giroud may not be injured but he was carded against Salernitana and will thus miss tomorrow’s clash due to the yellow card accumulation. He’s an important player for the team but at least it will make way for a certain Swede (which we will get to).

Compared to the game against Salernitana, Pioli is expected to make a total of two changes. Rade Krunic has done well lately but is expected to get some rest, with Sandro Tonali returning to the XI after getting his fair share of rest.

Up front, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to replace the suspended Giroud and it will be his first start since January 23 of last year (against Juventus). The 41-year-old has done well in training and although he doesn’t have 90 minutes in his leg, he could get a good chunk.

The rest of the XI will remain the same, though, with Rafael Leao starting on the left flank. The Portuguese winger has been very disappointing lately and will certainly only have to pick himself up as soon as possible.

Update: Theo has the flu and will miss out.

Probable Milan XI (3-4-3): Maignan; Kalulu, Thiaw, Tomori; Saelemaekers, Bennacer, Tonali, Ballo-Toure; Diaz, Ibrahimovic, Leao.

The opponents

Udinese had an amazing run at the start of the season, winning six of their first eight games. Since then, however, there have been a plethora of draws and just two wins for Andrea Sottil’s side.

The manager, 49 years old, was heavily praised at the start of the season (understandably so) but he hasn’t been able fully to turn the negative trend around. In the last three games they are unbeaten, though, which is something to build on.

One huge blow for the Fruili side is the absence of Gerard Deulofeu. He was forced to have knee surgery in January and he will miss the rest of the season, which is a great shame as he was often the source of creativity in the team.

Currently, those task are handled by both Roberto Pereyra and Lazar Samardzic. The latter has even been linked with a move to Milan, having scored four goals and assisted an additional two this season.

Sottil will be able to field a strong XI for tomorrow’s clash and there are a couple of players that Milan will need to be very careful with, which we will discuss under the ones to watch section.

Probable Udinese XI (3-5-2): Silvestri; Becao, Bijol, Perez; Ehizibue, Pereyra, Wallace, Lovric, Udogie; Beto, Success.

Head to head

Milan have not been that successful against Udinese in recent time, winning just two of their last five encounters with the team. In between those two games, there have been three 1-1 draws and that says a lot about the character of this game.

The Rossoneri did well against Sottil’s side in the opening game of the season, though, winning 4-2. From a neutral perspective, the first half was an entertaining one as both sides scored two goals, with Theo Hernandez and Ante Rebic on target for the home side.

In the second half, Brahim Diaz joined the party as he made it 3-2 and Rebic then doubled his tally, securing the 4-2 win. The Croatian could get some minutes tomorrow and it remains to be seen if he will make the most of them.

Match facts…

➤ AC Milan are the team against which Udinese have drawn the most games in their history in Serie A: 36 in 95 matches (W17 L42).

➤ AC Milan have remained unbeaten in 10 of their last 11 matches against Udinese in Serie A (W5 D5), only losing on 25th August 2019 in this run (1-0).

➤ After winning 4-2 last August, AC Milan are looking to complete the double over Udinese in Serie A for the first time since 2007-08 under Carlo Ancelotti.

➤ AC Milan have picked up just one point in their last four matches against sides in the top six positions in the Serie A table at the start of that matchday (D1 L3), their last such win was against Inter (3-2 on September 3rd, 2022)

➤ Udinese and Milan are equal in their last eight meetings in Friuli in Serie A: three wins each and two draws. Indeed, the two teams could draw two matches in a row at Udinese’s home in Serie A for the first time since 2004 to 2005.

➤ Udinese have kept a clean sheet in their last two league games, last registering three in a row in Serie A between January and February 2021.

➤ Only Napoli (14) have scored more goals than AC Milan and Udinese (both 11) in the last 15 minutes of play in Serie A in 2022/23.

➤ AC Milan have conceded the most goals following a cross in Serie A this term (12), with three of the last four goals they’ve shipped coming in this fashion. In contrast, no team has conceded fewer such goals than Udinese (3) this term.

➤ Rodrigo Becao scored three goals against AC Milan in Serie A, the only defender to score more goals against the Rossoneri in Serie A history is Primo Sentimenti (5 between 1947 and 1959).

➤ Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been involved in five goals in his last four games against Udinese in Serie A (3 goals and 2 assists); he is looking to start a game in Serie A for the first time since 23rd January 2022 (against Juventus).

➤ Ante Rebic has scored four goals against Udinese in Serie A (two braces: on 13/08/2022 and 19/01/2020), only against Torino (5) has he scored more goals in the competition.

Ones to watch

Milan will need Rafael Leao in good form. Perhaps it’s not essential to get the win tomorrow, but the Rossoneri need him back sooner rather than later. The quarter-final is around the corner and the winger needs to turn a page.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic obviously has to be watched closely tomorrow. He looked quite good in his two cameos and it will be very interesting to see him from start. If the reports from training are true, that he’s done very well, then we could be in for a treat.

As for the home side, it goes without saying that Milan need to defend well on set pieces otherwise Becao will be there to pounce. We have seen it before and we simply cannot allow it to happen again.

In addition to him, Beto is a very strong and somewhat fast striker that the Milan centre-backs will have to stay close to. If the trio can defend against Harry Kane, though, then they should be a relatively easy task.


It won’t be an easy game for the Rossoneri, especially after the confidence hit against Salernitana. Ibrahimovic’s presence can make a big difference mentality-wise, though, which is why they should be able to grind out a win.

Udinese 0-1 Milan

Tags AC Milan Serie A Udinese


  1. From now on we have to take every opponent the same as Napoli, we have to show that we are strong and capable to beat anyone

  2. They have 11 draws this season. They draw too much, if Milan doesn’t impose it most likely will be a draw. Same thing happened with PSG when they face Reims

  3. Not sure where our goal is coming from since Pioli has no attacking strategy other than hoping for Theo or Leao making a run. Theo may be out and Leao has checked out. Maybe Ibra can inspire something.

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