AC Milan travel to face Empoli in search of three points following the Napoli loss and the international break. Rafael Leao returns from his suspensions while Mike Maignan and Theo Hernandez are out with injury. Here are some key battles:
Left back vs Right back
Fode Ballo-Toure vs Petar Stojanovic
The left side of the pitch is where the opportunities often lie for us but Ballo-Toure needs to pick up the slack in this game. He needs to deliver some good balls from the wing and help Leao to put pressure on Stojanovic and open up some running room on that wing to cut in. Ballo-Toure does not often get the opportunity to impress Pioli thus he should really be looking to make an impact.
Central attacking midfielder vs Central attacking midfielder
Charles de Ketelaere vs Nedim Bajrami
The key battle in this game will be between the creative midfielders as Milan are missing key players and will need the youngster to find his rhythm. Bajrami on the other hand will be looking to take advantage of the gaps in the defending with potentially Kjaer and Ballo-Toure starting. CDK has struggled to adapt to the league but this game is a good opportunity where he will have some room to navigate between the lines and create some magic.
Manager vs Manager
Stefano Pioli vs Paolo Zanetti
The winner of the game will be down to the approach play of Pioli against Zanetti. Pioli is facing injuries and tired legs while Zanetti’s players have had plenty of rest and time to study Milan. Milan lost their last game while Empoli got their first win, the teams are in different states of mind with Milan needing redemption and Empoli needing continuity. Both sides can easily play to a draw as it will be a nervy affair but both managers have an opportunity to pull something big out of their respective bags as there is lots of talent on Pioli’s bench and some shockers on Zanetti’s. The aim for the Rossoneri needs to be an early goal and protecting Tatarusanu.
De Ketelaere Winner