AC Milan host Spezia at the San Siro in need of a win. Milan got robbed in this fixture last season with a terrible refereeing call which will have left scars. A win is important for the fans and to keep up with Napoli in the title race. This is a game with many crossovers as Daniel Maldini is currently on loan at Spezia as is defender Mattia Caldara. On our end Tommaso Pobega will know some of the players as he spent 2020/21 on loan with Spezia. Here are some key battles to look out for:
Centre back vs Striker
Brahim Diaz vs Manuel Locatelli
Matteo Gabbia vs Daniele Verde
A player in need of redemption after bearing direct responsibility for the loss against Torino with two howlers at the heart of defence within two minutes to allow in two goals. Gabbia is a good player but needs to realise the margins for error are tiny at the highest level. That blackout cost us three points and allowed Napoli to press on with their title charge. In this game, Gabbia will be facing a physical duo of Nzola and Verde who play on the break and are both scrappy. Gabbia cannot let loose balls get around the box and needs to simply clear the ball at all times, no time to be clever with it. Verde is a tricky man to mark and does have the ability to score wondergoals so he will be geared up to stun Tatarusanu.
Centre back vs Striker
Ethan Ampadu vs Divock Origi
The Welsh international is on loan from Chelsea and will be familiar with Origi from the Premier League. Ampadu taking on Origi will be interesting as the defender presses early and is hard hitting. He does not allow strikers to turn but is vulnerable for pace when there is some space. Leao will be able to take him on with ease and cause issues for him coming down that wing. Origi has regained fitness but not yet any sort of consistent form. He needs to use these three games to get some goals and set himself up for the Belgium squad for the World Cup. He was entirely shut out against Torino and he needs to press and ensure this is not the case tonight.
Central defensive midfielder vs Central attacking midfielder
Albin Ekdal vs Brahim Diaz
It was such a shame to see Diaz withdrawn in the Torino game as he was genuinely doing well and it must have been hard for him to stay on the bench against Salzburg. It’s good to see him back in this game but he will likely struggle against an excessively aggressive Ekdal who will likely foul him and push him around all game. Diaz has been doing well in recent games but this seems like the one for CDK to get off the mark coming off the bench. Diaz is able to rip open this defence but will likely not be able to handle the physicality.