AC Milan vs AC Monza. The Berlusconi-Galliani derby returns and it was a whopper the first time around. Stefano Pioli is rotating and bringing back some starters. Raffaele Palladino is unbeaten in 2023 in the league. Here are some key battles to look out for:
Striker vs Centre back
Divock Origi vs Pablo Mari
Origi is the primary focus in this game for me. Giroud needs arest and we need another striker contributing goals if we are to see out the season and get that Champions League spot. He had a good game against Monza last time and should use this as a blueprint for his performance this afternoon. It would be nice to see Zlatan Ibrahimovic off the bench but the hope is for Origi to score early so Giroud does not come off the bench. Pablo Mari recently came back to play following his stabbing injury and will be a boost to Palladino’s side. The Arsenal loanee adds speed and physicality to Monza’s backline and will make things difficult for us to test Di Gregorio.
Central midfielder vs Central defensive midfielder
Stefano Sensi vs Sandro Tonali
Tonali is the underperformer in the current side as he is struggling to adjust and his play has looked sloppy since the new year. In Sensi, he will be facing a player on the rise as the former Inter Milan man has found a home in Monza and is returning to his peak. Sensi controls the pace of the game with his exchanges and dominates with an explosive Pessina to drive forward ahead of him. Tonali has a big role to keep him at bay and cut out his passing lanes. Tonali is clearly missing Bennacer but more so is yet to shown the dominance of Kessie since his departure.
Centre back vs Striker
Fikayo Tomori vs Andrea Petagna
Tomori returns after a couple of weeks out and will need to quickly integrate into a new back three system. He will need to have faith in Tatarusanu and learn how to play with Thiaw very quickly to keep up the solid work for the clean sheets. Petagna returns to face us again and is in some good form with a goal and an assist in the previous two games. His hold up play has been crucial for Palladino’s side and his aerial ability will likely be a threat to us on set pieces.