Milan will be desperate to find a way out of a mini-crisis when they lock horns with familiar foes Hellas Verona on Saturday afternoon. Let’s look at our match preview for this contest.
Redemption for a humiliating derby result will be at the forefront of Stefano Pioli’s mind after Newcastle United miraculously denied Milan a win in midweek Champions League action. Despite utterly outclassing Newcastle United at San Siro, Rossoneri slumped to a disappointing 0-0 draw at the start of their Group F campaign.
Milan wasted a catalog of scoring chances against Sandro Tonali’s new side on Tuesday, failing to respond to a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Inter last weekend. Pioli’s decision not to apologize to the devastated San Siro faithful left the Rossoneri fans fuming. But a positive result against Verona would probably bring the under-fire manager back within supporters’ good grace.
Based on Verona’s start to the new campaign, this won’t be another day in the office for Milan, as was the case on the final weekend of last season, when they humbled Gialloblu 3-1 at this venue. The appointment of ex-Lecce coach Marco Baroni as the new chief of staff has reinvigorated a side they had to survive a dramatic playoff tie against Spezia to secure top-flight survival last term.
Baroni’s men have already pulled off one upset this season, overcoming Jose Mourinho’s Roma 2-1 on home turf in round two. That victory bookended a perfect three-game winning start to 2023/24 in all competitions, following a brace of wins over Empoli and Ascoli in Serie A and Coppa Italia, respectively.
However, Verona’s form curve has spiraled since. They first slipped to a 3-1 defeat at Sassuolo on the stroke of the international break before sharing the spoils with Bologna in a dull 0-0 home draw on Monday.
Last weekend’s embarrassing performance in the famous Derby della Madonnina knocked Milan down from a three-game winning start to the new Serie A season. Nine points collected across the opening four rounds represent the club’s third-best tally in the last 17 campaigns. Yet, Inter’s emphatic victory overshadowed their previous results.
Verona’s visit to San Siro offers Pioli a perfect chance to steady the ship and return to winning ways. It’s been over a century since Milan last suffered a home defeat against this opposition, noticeably going undefeated across their last 37 home H2Hs (W21, D16)! But Rossoneri would be wise not to take anything for granted.
Before winning their last two home games against Verona via a combined 6-3 scoreline, Milan had drawn back-to-back H2Hs in Lombardy. Moreover, you’d need to go back to 2014 for their last home clean sheet against Gialloblu.
Player to Watch: Olivier Giroud
The veteran’s stellar start to the new campaign has seen him net four goals in his opening four league appearances for the first time since 2013/14. However, it’s worth noting that three of them have come from the spot.
Bologna’s resilient defensive showing at the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi earlier this week marked Verona’s first scoring blank in nine matches across all competitions. While the odds remain heavily stacked against them in this fixture, it’s difficult to discard the possibility of Baroni’s men troubling the scoresheet.
Since a narrow 1-0 defeat in 2014, Verona have found the net on seven consecutive Serie A visits to Milan. Furthermore, they had netted precisely twice in back-to-back away league H2Hs before last season’s 3-1 loss. Speaking of their scoring prowess, the visitors have got on the board on seven consecutive top-flight travels since a goalless draw at Napoli in mid-April.
Player to Watch: Cyril Ngonge
The highly-rated youngster has picked up where he left off last season, becoming the protagonist of this Verona side. With two goals in his three most recent Serie A appearances, he’s the club’s leading goalscorer this term.
Mike Maignan didn’t have to make a single save against Newcastle but somehow still picked up a back injury that will see him join Mattia Caldara, Ismael Bennacer, and Pierre Kalulu on the sidelines. Meanwhile, a question mark hovers over the head of Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
As for Verona, long-term absentee Thomas Henry will probably sit this one out despite edging closer to a full recovery. It’s still uncertain whether Ajdin Hrustic and Josh Doig will keep him company on the sidelines this weekend.
Milan vs Verona Potential Lineups
Milan (4-3-3): Marco Sportiello; Davide Calabria, Fikayo Tomori, Simon Kjaer, Theo Hernandez; Yunus Musah, Rade Krunic, Tijjani Reijnders; Christian Pulisic, Olivier Giroud, Rafael Leao.
Hellas Verona (3-4-2-1): Lorenzo Montipo; Pawel Dawidowicz, Isak Hien, Giangiacomo Magnani; Davide Faraoni, Martin Hongla, Ondrej Duda, Darko Lazovic; Jordi Mboula, Cyril Ngonge; Milan Djuric.
Milan vs Verona Prediction
With the pressure ramping up on the team after a brace of underwhelming displays in the past seven days, Milan cannot afford another slip-up. While we’d back Pioli’s side to tear Verona to pieces before the derby fiasco, a narrow victory may do the trick, given the circumstances.
Prediction: Milan Win
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