European races come to a head at the San Siro
Stefano Pioli’s AC Milan host Roma in their bid to qualify for the Europa League this season, they sit eight, three points behind their former gaffer Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli in sixth, with Parma sandwiched in between. Roma are nine points their superior, however with an extreme uphill battle to reach the Champions League, trailing fourth placed Atalanta by six. They had hope before the Bergamo based side came from two goals down to beat title contenders Lazio 3-2, in a Serie A resumption epic. Milan are narrow favourites despite Roma’s good form before the break, they do arguably have more to play for.
Last time out
The hosts recovered strongly in their last match to beat relegation battling Lecce 4-1 after conceding an equaliser in the second half. They went on to create another 1.63 expected goals in the remainder of the match and dispatched three of those chances from the boot of Giacomo Bonaventura, Ante Rebic and Rafael Leao respectively. Back with a bang, intent on climbing the table.
The Yellow and Reds had to rely on two penalty box strikes from Edin Dzeko to clinch a 2-1 win over similarly threated to drop into Serie B Sampdoria, it was not until the 84th minute they grabbed the winner against Claudio Ranieri’s men, a slow start but one that builds the foundations to showcase higher levels at the San Siro. They won the xG in this game 2.14-1.24.
Lorenzo Pellegrini’s introduction from the bench on Wednesday evening really turned the game on its head, the creative midfielder assisted the equaliser, slotting in perfectly into the five-man midfield. The 24-year-old dons the number seven shirt at the Stadio Olimpico and is having a career season, in the top three in the division for assists, he has nine, and key passes per game, 2.8. In esteemed company sharing the top three spots with Atalanta and Lazio creative machines Alejandro Gomez and Luis Alberto.
Defence is the strongest area of the pitch for Milan, having been left wanting consistently at the top end this term, 13th in the table for goals scored. Alessio Romagnoli has really come of age and is a huge part of the spine of the team at centre back. The 25-year-old has been ever present in Serie A, impressing with the ball at his feet with a pass completion rate of 90.5%. He has made the seventh most clearances per game and will be involved in an intriguing battle with canny striker Edin Dzeko on Sunday afternoon.
Both sides are looking strong, there is more on this match for Milan hence the favourites tag, it will be a good contest.