The AC Milan Women will take the field again this Sunday. This time, they’ll take on the apple-cart-upsetters of Sassuolo. The match will be crucial and is a must-win game for a spot in next season’s Champions League. The two teams are neck and neck in the race for Europe, as Milan are currently in second and have a narrow two-point lead over the Neroverde.
Sassuolo are flying high, as they’ve only lost one match so far this season. Their only defeat so far has been to Juventus, not surprisingly. Milan has also lost only one match so far this season, and that was against Juve too.
The main difference between the two matches is that the Neroverde were overwhelmed by the Bianconere and lost 4-0. Milan narrowly lost to Juve by a score of 1-0, thanks to a penalty kick by Valentina Cernoia. (The cruel irony is that Cernoia is a Milanista, but we’ll get into how much that sucks at a later time.)
What this tells us is that Milan has a better defense than Sassuolo does and that they should use that to their advantage. It also tells us that Milan needs to score more too.
Milan will most likely field a 3-5-2 and deploy the same players that played against Fiorentina. While the formation has helped the Rossonere win three, consecutive and important matches, the problem with the 3-5-2 is that it’s pragmatic and not fun to watch. It doesn’t help that Milan’s world-class midfielder, Verónica Boquete, is fielded as a defensive LCMF and is played several meters away from goal. As a result, she’s not able to direct the midfield traffic or create many scoring chances for the forwards.
However, there are reports that Julia Šimić might play on Sunday. Having her in the midfield will be a boon to Boquete. The two of them formed a great partnership in the Coppa Italia against Orobica, as they helped Milan maintain over 70% of possession with their smooth passes and fantastic touches.
If they can replicate that same partnership during this match, then it will help Milan emerge the victors of this match.
Sassuolo, on the other hand, will most likely line-up in 4-3-1-2. Their offense has been on fire, and Haley Bugeja is the one that leaves you terrified.
Bugega has scored a total of 10 goals this season and has also registered four assists. She also has an xG of 5.2 this season. Not bad for a 16-year-old, huh?
If Milan want to win this game, then they’ll have to shut her and the rest of Sassuolo’s offense down. The team has scored a combined total of 22 games this season. Milan will have to bolt the doors shut against them. Fortunately, they have a few, effective locks in the form of Laura Agard, Linda Tucceri Cimini, Laura Fusetti, and Giorgia Spinelli. Look for them to keep the Neroverde at bay.
And if the midfield can finally find a syncopated rhythm and get the necessary passes to Valentina Giacinti and Natasha Dowie, then the match will most certainly end in a victory for the Rossonere.
It’s hard to predict the final score of a match like this, but given everything we’ve seen so far, all signs point towards a Milan victory (albeit a narrow one).
Where: The Vismara in Milan
Kickoff Time: 12:30 p.m. CEST