A chance to finish in the top four of Serie A (SA) seemed to present itself for AC Milan with back to back home games, but a shock 1-1 draw with Cremonese partly dashed such ambitions. Junior Messias’ free kick in the dying seconds saved the point, but given that it was their fourth draw in five league games (W1) and put them two points behind Inter in fourth place, there is obviously room for improvement.
Despite all of those draws, Milan has won five of their past eight competitive home games (D3). They will be hoping that a quick trip back home to face Lazio can kick off their final push, as they have won three of their previous four home SA meetings against teams that are presently ahead of them in the standings (L1). Milan is one of three teams in the major five European leagues to have registered nine draws in 2023, so the possibility of another deadlock looms high.
After defeating Sassuolo 2-0 at home on Wednesday, Maurizio Sarri’s team heads north again. Lazio only last weekend fell 3-1 to Inter here at the San Siro. That win put an end to their recent two games losing streak (L2) and gave them hope for a second place finish, even though Juventus is now a formidable rival for that position.
Despite being the joint second best travelers in SA this season (W9, D4, L3), two of Lazio’s three league road losses came against rivals for the Champions League, Juventus and Inter, and 60% of Lazio’s ten away SA goals allowed this season came from those contests. Given that the visitors have dropped all three of their previous head to head meetings on the road against Milan, scoring nine goals in the process, that record might be about to go even worse.
Olivier Giroud of Milan has scored three goals in as many competitive matches against Lazio (W2, L1), including two goals just before halftime in their most recent home H2H. Luis Alberto of Lazio has now contributed to seven goals in his career against Milan (G3, A4), including a goal and an assist in the rematch that Lazio won 4-0.
Stefano Pioli’s starting XI should look very different from that which struggled so miserably on Wednesday, with Fikayo Tomori returning from suspension and numerous more experienced talents back in the Milan lineup.
Only Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Tommaso Pobega are expected to miss out owing to injuries, leaving the hosts with practically a complete roster.
Sandro Tonali, Theo Hernandez, and Rafael Leao will therefore be available right away, with Olivier Giroud taking Divock Origi’s place up front.
Lazio’s major injury concern continues to be Danilo Cataldi, who is working to recover from a calf issue. This weekend’s team may be a stable one.
Alessio Romagnoli, an ex-Milan defender who has served his suspension, is most likely to replace Patric in Maurizio Sarri’s lineup, with Elseid Hysaj being a strong candidate to move up from the bench.
Felipe Anderson and Mattia Zaccagni, who both scored in the rematch in January, will operate on either side of captain Ciro Immobile in the Biancocelesti’s front three.
AC Milan possible starting lineup
Maignan, Calabria, Tomori, Kalulu, Hernandez, Bennacer, Tonali, Saelemaekers, Diaz, Leao and Giroud.
Lazio possible starting lineup
Provedel, Marusic, Romagnoli, Casale, Hysaj, Milinkovic-Savic, Antonio, Alberto, Anderson, Immobile and Zaccagni.
We predict: AC Milan 1-1 Lazio
However, a journey to San Siro brings its own special challenge, and Lazio may have to settle for a draw on this occasion. Lazio have won nine of their 16 away games in Serie A this season.
Given their track record of keeping clean sheets, scoring against the Rome club is an accomplishment in and of itself, but if Milan is to finish in Italy’s top four, they will need more than just single point returns.