Milan will hope to put our disappointing draw in midweek with SPAL behind us and get back to winning ways when we face Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday night.
The Rossoneri missed a big opportunity to close the gap on rivals Roma and Napoli in the battle for Europa League qualification, as well as putting some distance between ourselves and the chasing pack behind us.
READ MORE: Five key talking points as wasteful Milan salvage draw vs SPAL but not good enough
In turn, that makes this game even more important and it’s hoped that we can come away with a positive result to put the frustration over not seeing off SPAL behind us to start to feel more optimistic again about the conclusion of the Serie A campaign.
Castillejo injured, triple change…
There is one change that will need to be made by Stefano Pioli as Milan confirmed on their official site on Friday that Samu Castillejo sustained a hamstring injury last time out, and he will be assessed again in seven days time.
Meanwhile, MilanNews note that Theo Hernandez has recovered from a knock he picked up in that same game and will start, while Simon Kjaer and Andrea Conti will come into the XI in place of Matteo Gabbia and Davide Calabria respectively.
It’s added that Giacomo Bonaventura is in pole position to get the nod to replace Castillejo on the right side although Rafael Leao and Alexis Saelemaekers will undoubtedly hope to be in that conversation still, but other than those three changes, it will largely be the same side that has featured regularly since the season restarted.
Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1) : Donnarumma; Conti, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Theo Hernandez; Kessie, Bennacer; Bonaventura, Paquetà, Calhanoglu; Rebic.
It will be good to potentially see Lucas Paqueta keep his place in the side after he put in an impressive display earlier this week, and coupled with the other pillars of the team, it’s a strong XI that is certainly capable of coming away with all three points on Saturday night.
One of the interesting points to note is Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s fitness and whether or not he’ll come into contention to replace Ante Rebic in the starting line-up, or if he will have to be patient for a little longer and try to aim to break back into the XI against Juventus next week.
Given his lack of playing time in recent weeks after sustaining a calf injury, it would be a surprise to see him start as ultimately he wasn’t at his sharpest in midweek and he’ll surely need to be gradually worked back into the side.
Nevertheless, as per La Gazzetta dello Sport below, it seems as though the 38-year-old could be in the mix still and so time will tell what Pioli decides to go with.
Image courtesy of La Gazzetta dello Sport.
As seen in their graphic, La Gazzetta dello Sport have gone with a slightly different XI, as they’re expecting Ibrahimovic to return to the starting XI, while Saelemaekers will get the nod on the right side.
That aside, the two touted line-ups match each other pretty well, and so it gives a clear indication over what we can likely expect from Pioli this weekend.
Lazio will be missing both Ciro Immoble and Felipe Caicedo due to suspension in a major double boost for Milan, but there is still a lot of quality on the pitch for the Scudetto-chasers and Milan must be at it from the first minute and show a much more clinical edge to our play to take chances and put the game away as quickly as possible.
The two defensive switches make sense as both Conti and Kjaer have performed better than Calabria and Matteo Gabbia respectively, and whether it’s Bonaventura or Saelemaekers on the right, it’s good depth that Milan can call upon and hopefully enjoy success with moving forward.