AC Milan will be looking for a response against Spezia on Saturday at Stadio Alberto Picco after their severe disappointment in Europe this week.
Milan’s defeat against city rivals in the first leg Inter Milan’s chances of winning the Champions League are hanging by a thread, and they have not yet guaranteed a return to the competition through Serie A for the upcoming season. Their hosts last triumphed in March, and it was over none other than Inter.
The struggling Spezia team lost for the third time in a row, this time to fellow relegation candidates Cremonese by a score of 2-0. They have now won only one of their last 16 Serie A (SA) games (D6, L9). Despite entering 2023 with a solid eight points lead, it unavoidably caused the Ligurian team to drop into the bottom three with a three points deficit to safety.
Having failed to score in seven of their last nine home games (W1, D3, L5), head coach Leonardo Semplici will be hoping that the return of star striker M’Bala Nzola, who should start here from the outset after his recent injury, can aid his team. Nzola played a key role in their most recent victory, which occurred in mid January. He scored the go ahead goal from the spot in a famous 2-1 victory over Inter, an AC Milan rival, at Stadio Alberto Picco.
Inter defeated Milan 2-0 in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) semifinal on Wednesday. As if Rafael Leo’s injury weren’t devastating enough, coach Stefano Pioli also lost Ismael Bennacer in the first 20 minutes of that heartbreaking defeat. With only four rounds left, Milan must immediately regroup because they are two points behind Inter in the top four race.
The Rossoneri fans were at least pleased to hear that Leo had reportedly extended his contract with the team until 2028 and that they had recently defeated Lazio 2-0. It’s a different story on the road, where back to back league draws have only added to a dismal traveling SA record (W6, D6, L5), but Milan will be confident of recovering from their UCL defeat because they have avoided a loss in each of their seven such matches against teams starting this round 13th or worse (W4, D3).
Nearly half of Spezia’s 28 SA goals this season (G13) have been scored by Nzola, although he has never scored a goal against Milan. After scoring a goal and missing a penalty in the previous two head to head matches, Théo Hernandez, who scored against Lazio, received attention.
Ismael Bennacer, who was substituted against Inter in the first half, will be out of action for months due to a major knee injury, adding to Rafael Leao’s continuous absence for Milan.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alessandro Florenzi are still out, and Malick Thiaw must serve a ban for a number of bookings.
The visitors may rotate their squad at Stadio Picco ahead of their semifinal second leg on Tuesday, a strategy that hasn’t often been successful in recent weeks. As a result, Ante Rebic, Divock Origi, and Charles De Ketelaere are all in line for promotion from the bench.
In order to replace first choice striker M’Bala Nzola, Spezia had to resort to Uzbek attacker Eldor Shomurodov. However, Spezia can now welcome M’Bala Nzola back from injury to captain their ineffective front line.
Leonardo Semplici’s options are constrained by the continued absence of Emil Holm, Jacopo Sala, Joao Moutinho, and Milan loanee Daniel Maldini.
Nzola, Daniele Verde, and captain Emmanuel Gyasi might all be called back to the hosts’ assault because Kevin Agudelo, a dynamic midfielder, is suspended.
Spezia Possible starting lineup
Dragowski, Amian, Ampadu, Nikolaou, Reca, Esposito, Ekdal, Bourabia, Verde, Nzola and Gyasi.
AC Milan possible starting lineup
Maignan, Calabria, Kalulu, Tomori, Hernandez, Tonali, Krunic, Saelemaekers, De Ketelaere, Rebic and Origi.
We Predict: Spezia 0–1 AC Milan
Milan may have a difficult time defeating their struggling opponents between two major derbies and during a troubling run of results, especially given that the Rossoneri’s backup players have been powerless this season when called upon. However, Spezia’s difficulties in the final third can work in their favor, allowing them to win and maintain their chances of finishing in the top four.