On Saturday, a 1-1 draw against Roma was preserved by two goals in second half stoppage time, which culminated in a 97th minute equalizer by AC Milan. The fact that four teams from fourth to seventh are separated by just two points heading into the round, despite the fact that the result prolonged their unbeaten competitive record (W3, D4), means it hasn’t had much of an impact on Milan’s quest for a Serie A (SA) top four finish. The draw, according to manager Stefano Pioli, was “not the result” they were hoping for before a key stretch of matches against Lazio in Serie A and city rivals Inter in the Champions League semifinals.
Given that Milan has defeated Cremonese seven times at home in the top division, Pioli may decide to rotate his team against them. With four clean sheets in their previous five SA home games (W3, D2), the Rossoneri should be able to rely on their defensive prowess to help them maintain this record.
The previous time Cremonese faced AC Milan at the San Siro in May 1996, it resulted in one of their biggest defeats (7-1) after holding onto a goalless draw in the reverse match. That most certainly won’t give the team any confidence after they failed to convert their advantage against Verona on Sunday (D 1-1). Cremonese remained seven points outside of safety at the end of the previous round, despite the coach Davide Bellardini’s assessment that they “played an excellent game,” but now that the Coppa Italia is no longer a factor, there are no longer any justifications for losing focus.
Having only picked up six points on the road this year (W1, D3, L4), they will need to improve their away record if they have any aspirations of a miraculous late charge to safety. However, Cremonese have demonstrated they have the stomach for the fight, regardless of how late in the season it may be, by securing four of those points despite giving up the game’s first goal.
Alexis Saelemaekers of Milan enjoys having the last word because he has scored the winning goal on three of his four occasions this year. Prior to that, Cremonese will be hoping David Okereke, who has started four of his past five club goals, may have an impact.
centerback for AC Milan Alessandro Florenzi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Tommaso Pobega are all still in the treatment area while Fikayo Tomori has been suspended after receiving his fifth yellow card of the year against Roma. He also has a hamstring injury and had to leave the game at halftime.
In place of Tomori, one of Malick Thiaw, Pierre Kalulu, or Matteo Gabbia might start in place of Simon Kjaer in the center of defense, with Davide Calabria and Theo Hernandez likely to stay at full back.
Due to Milan’s busy fixture schedule, Pioli may consider rotating the midfield and attack. Saelemaekers, Junior Messias, Ante Rebic, and Charles De Ketelaere are some players vying for a spot in the starting lineup.
Quagliata is suspended for Cremonese after receiving a red card last weekend, and Marco Benassi and Frank Tsadjout are expected to miss another game due to injuries.
Vlad Chiriches made a comeback from injury to join the matchday squad against Verona, and if Ballardini chooses to start a back three, he might be chosen to start at center back alongside Johan Vasquez and Luka Lochoshvili.
With six goals each this season, Okereke, Daniel Ciofani, and Cyriel Dessers are tied for the most goals scored by Cremonese. The attacking three will compete for a slot up front, with the first two seeking to keep their starting positions.
AC Milan possible starting lineup
Maignan, Calabria, Kjaer, Thiaw, Hernandez, Krunic, Tonali, Saelemaekers, Bennacer, Leao and Rebic.
Cremonese possible starting lineup
Carnesecchi, Sernicola, Vasquez, Lochoshvili, Valeri, Pickel, Castagnetti, Meite, Buonaiuto, Okereke and Dessers.
We predict: AC Milan 2-0 Cremonese
The time for Cremonese to stage a spectacular comeback is running out, and they are aware that failure to win on Wednesday could push them dangerously close to relegation.
The visitors will face a challenging task at San Siro, where Milan are heavy favorites to prevail comfortably at home and maintain their chances of qualifying for the Champions League.