AC Milan face Cagliari on the road this evening as Stefano Pioli’s looks to continue the bounce back and build some confidence ahead of the tough ties this weekend and next week. Claudio Ranieri’s side have not had the best start to the season with just one goal scored and two points in the opening five games.
Here are some key battles to look out for:
Right back vs Left wingback
Alessandro Florenzi vs Tommaso Augello
Florenzi gets his second consecutive start but now he will play in his natural position. He looked great against Verona and was one of the best on the pitch as he carried the ball well and delivered fantastic crosses. Florenzi is a veteran in the league and his quality is really showing when he is physically fit, his awareness and ability to really make his impact felt is underrated and there is a spot for him in the squad this season. He will go up against Augello who has been one of the few bright spots for Cagliari this season. Augello has some pace so will be bursting down that wing whenever the ball turns over which Florenzi has to account for when pressing forward.
Centre back vs Striker
Noah Okafor vs Mateusz Wieteska
Okafor gets his first start at his ne club. He has come off the bench in every Serie A game leading up to this one so he has only 77 minutes in his legs thus far. He has shown some brilliant moments and has come up with some dangerous chances. He will be facing a back three who will get physical and in particular face off with Wieteska who plays a sweeper-esque role sitting slightly behind the other defenders. Okafor’s last goal came in November 2022 as he was injured for most of the 2023 before his summer move to Milan. Okafor will have the opportunity to show a new dimension of play as we will not likely see lots of crosses but more build up through the middle and run in behind the defence.
Manager vs Manager
Stefano Pioli vs Claudio Ranieri
Just as last week with Baroni, this game will be a tactical battle between the managers above all. Ranieri is smart enough and knows Pioli well enough to frustrate him. We beat Hellas Verona but it took a moment of magic from Rafael Leao. This game could go the same way but we end up with a 0-0 or a 1-0 loss. Pioli is heavily rotating especially in attack and will need his new signings to gel together to ensure we get a goal early. Ranieri and Pioli have met seven times with Pioli winning three, four draws and Ranieri never prevailing.