The countdown begins to the Derby della Madonnina this weekend, as Milan coach Marco Giampaolo faces some crucial selection decisions for his starting XI.
On a positive note, the Rossoneri have collected six points from the opening three Serie A games and have conceded just one goal.
However, in both wins thus far we haven’t looked particularly convincing and especially with the level of quality from the opposition stepping up this weekend against Inter, it feels as though we’ll have to produce a much-improved performance to secure the points.
In turn, there are decisions that Giampaolo will need to make on his line-up, as he could opt to stick with what’s ‘worked’ so far, or shuffle his pack slightly and make changes in key areas.
Conti for Calabria
Following Davide Calabria’s late red card against Verona, this is one enforced change that Giampaolo will have to make. Nonetheless, it’s included in the list given there is always a danger that Fabio Borini will find his way back into the side given his versatility.
Andrea Conti would be a like-for-like swap and a natural replacement, and although he hasn’t had a great deal of football over the last two years after enduring an injury nightmare, his defensive qualities, energy and pace will make him a key presence down the right flank.
It’s a battle between the pair for a starting berth this season, and now Conti has his chance to keep Calabria out of the side even after he returns from suspension if he can impress in his absence.
Hernandez for Rodriguez
Ricardo Rodriguez produced another 5/6 out of 10 performance last weekend, as he did the necessary work to put in a decent shift but offered little going forward and was almost caught out at the back post as he so often is.
Meanwhile, Theo Hernandez has now had another full week of training and is surely pushing for a starting place, as suggested by La Gazzetta dello Sport.
The risk is that he’ll be rusty as he hasn’t featured since that impressive cameo appearance in pre-season against Bayern Munich, and the last thing Milan need is to take risks in such an important game. That said, the upside involved with Hernandez starting is significant, as he is more than capable of playing a pivotal role in both our attack and general style of play off the ball.
Bennacer for Biglia
While Lucas Biglia offers experience and calmness in front of the defence as he showed quality at times against Verona to pick up possession in deep areas to break up opposition attacks, he offered little going forward.
The Argentine stalwart was often a spectator in our build-up play as he seemed content floating around the midfield, and while it isn’t necessarily his primary role in the side, we need that creative individual in the deep-lying role to get us going.
Ismael Bennacer showed against Brescia that he can offer both sides of the game, and in what is likely to be a frenetic and high-tempo game, we need his energy, urgency and mobility to stamp our mark in midfield to win that mini-battle in a key area.
Rebic for Paqueta
Lucas Paqueta is undoubtedly struggling to find his best form right now and while it will take time, there is little doubt that he will show his worth for Milan as the season goes on.
What Ante Rebic showed off the bench in the second half against Verona though suggests that he should get the nod against Inter as his pace, ability to drive at a defender in a one-on-one situation and stretch defences in wide positions could be crucial.
The Croatian international adds a different dynamic in attack and with his work ethic off the ball in mind too, he offers a crucial presence in the final third which could help us not only contain Inter but also put the pressure on them and control the game.