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3 things to look for as Milan face Lazio

What to keep an eye on for crucial game on Sunday

AC Milan v Austria Wien - UEFA Europa League Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

This weekend, the Milan side return home after a great away victory at Cagliari 2-1. For Milan the focus will be to make a jump into Europa League spots as they currently sit 3 points behind that goal. In front of them this week is a strong Lazio side led by Simone Inzaghi, brother of Milan legend Fillipo Inzaghi. Lazio, who sit in 3rd place on 46 points will look to shorten the lead over the top two in Napoli and Juventus, respectively.

So, let’s see what Milan fans should keep an eye out for.

Can Franck Kessie maintain his great form?

Cagliari Calcio v AC Milan - Serie A Photo by Enrico Locci/Getty Images

Last week at Cagliari, it was an inspired Kessie that led this Milan team to victory. The question is now can he do it again, and with this Milan team definitely showing improvement, I think he can.

Consider the opponent, Lazio have a strong midfield led by Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Marco Parolo and Lucas. Still, they are a team that has been lacking in aggressiveness, something not only Kessie, but Lucas Biglia can take advantage of and create some mismatches in the midfield that can help increase the chances of a Milan goal moving higher up the pitch.

Will Nikola Kalinic stay present in the starting XI?

AC Milan v Atalanta BC - Serie A Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Kalinic did not have a terrible game last week, although he did miss a couple of shots he did provide the assist for Kessie’s second goal. It looks like he will be the starter for the foreseeable future considering he earned a yellow early on in the Cagliari match and Andre Silva did not even get a start from manager Gennaro Gattuso.

So if it is Kalinic or bust, this is actually not the worst game for him to be in, taking into account Lazio will most likely play with a back three. So, a target man up top, playing with his back to goal, can help the wingers like Suso and Hakan play a bit looser and create space for more interplay or crosses. That recipe can lead to success for Milan and who knows maybe Kalinic will finally put one in the back of the goal.

Will the defense hold up?

Cagliari Calcio v AC Milan - Serie A Photo by Enrico Locci/Getty Images

The defense will be key for this game as they are going up against Ciro Immobile who is on 20 goals in his 19 appearances so far in Serie A this season. One would have to imagine Gattuso keeps the same lineup in for defense, save for Ricardo Rodriguez, who received a red card and subsequent three match ban. So, in for Rodriguez we could see Abate or Antonelli or a switch back to a three man defense.

Either way the play will hinge on Leonardo Bonucci who has been decent this season, but certainly not as great as he was with Juventus. Call it lack of continuity or whatever, Bonucci has to lead this team and backline group and elevate everyone’s play around him. He is talented enough to do it and with a tough stretch for Milan upcoming with games against Lazio back to back and Udinese the impetus is on Milan to make ground in the standings.