AC Milan host Napoli at the San Siro tonight as the two top teams in the league look to force the other into a loss. Stefano Pioli will be missing Rafael Leao, Ante Rebic and Divock Origi for the game hence will need to rely on his midfield to make an impact while Olivier Giroud is forced into his seventh consecutive start. Here are some key battles to look out for:
Left winger vs Right back
Khvicha Kvaratshkelia vs Davide Calabria
This is a nightmare scenario at the moment as the new arrival in the league is easily the most impressive player in Italy at the moment going up against Calabria who is under pressure at Milan from Florenzi (now injured) and new arrival Dest. Calabria holds up well enough but has been caught out of position lots of times and looks a step lower than the rest of the team and will be looking to avoid the bad luck associated with the captain’s armband as since Montolivo. Montolivo got benched, Bonucci exited the club and Romagnoli got benched. He has a big job to hold up against Kvaratshkelia and keep him away from the box and as far away from Kalulu and Maignan as possible to layer the path ahead with lines of defence.
Central defensive midfielder vs Central midfielder
Sandro Tonali vs Andre Zambo Anguissa
This game will be won or lost in the midfield. The midfield three of Napoli against Milan’s triangle of Tonali, Bennacer and CdK will dictate the pace of the game. Tonali up against Anguissa will be the key battle as they have the ground to cover and the physical press in this game. Tonali will have to watch the space as Lobotka wlll sit back and set up the passes, Anguissa will be the ball carrier while Zielinski makes the runs round the back. Tonali will need to be scrambling to close down the driving room for Anguissa and ensuring that he is winning those battles and holding the possession.
Central attacking midfielder vs Central midfielder
Charles de Ketelaere vs Stanislav Lobotka
Lobotka has looked a menace this season with a marked improvement under Spalletti. He operates very effectively at pressuring attacking midfielders and forcing mistakes. He is physical and given his small stature, often gets away with being a tad more aggressive. He will cause lots of probelms for CdK who will need to show strength to get his passes and to dribble past Lobotka. CdK needs to have a big game as Leao is out of this one hence the burden of creativity falls on his shoulders given that he is flanked by Saelemaekers and Krunic who are not at the same level.
De Ketelaere Winner