The San Sir is sold out for the final game of 2023 as AC Milan face off against Sassuolo and search for an illusive home win against the side. Stefano Pioli needs to respond after the major slip-up last week and the squad need to end on a positive ahead of the January transfer window where some changes are expected. The Rossoneri also have a chance to pic up points on Inter Milan and Napoli who both drew last night.
Here are some key battles to look out for:
Left back vs Right Winger
Alessandro Florenzi vs Domenico Berardi
Berardi has 11 goals and 7 assists against AC Milan in 19 encounters. He has been a thorn in our side since the 2013/14 season. Florenzi will be inverted in this game out of necessity given our decimated defence and will have a major task for keeping Berardi quiet especially after his spectacular performance when Sassuolo beat us 5-2 in January. Florenzi will need to have a defensive masterclass to ensure Berardi cannot create and gets frustrated. We have not beaten Sassuolo at the San Siro since 2019 and winning this battle is the first step to making that happen.
Central midfielder vs Central attacking midfielder
Ismael Bennacer vs Samu Castillejo
Bennacer starts in the middle and faces an old friend in Castillejo - who has somehow ended up back in Serie A. Castillejo has been deployed on both wings and down the middle by Alessio Dionisi and is predicted to return to the middle as Berardi is set to star after his illness. The former Milan winger is yet to score nor provide an assist but we will likely see some type of goal contribution this evening given the pattern of the current season. Bennacer knows how he plays so we should have an edge in keeping him quiet and can hopefully cut him out of the game. Let’s hope he does not join the likes of Locatelli, Brescianini, De Ketelaere and Calhanoglu who have scored on assisted against us this season.
Striker vs Goalkeeper
Olivier Giroud vs Andrea Consigli
The French veteran started the season so well and has been contributing despite the tough circumstances. He has provided sublime assists for Pulisic, Jovic and Okafor in each of the previous three games to show his huge impact despite being off the ball for the bulk of the match. It would be nice to see him cap off 2023 with a goal and get to double figures across all competitions ahead of the ransfer window where the Rossoneri are expected to sign a striker to supplement the squad. The man to beat is more Consigli than either of Erlic or Tressoldi as he usually has one clear cut chance per game and just needs to beat the keeper when the moment comes. He has been strong with the aerial duels and headed goals so hopefully he delivers one today.