Milan-Lazio Preview: Preparing for Battle

Milan host Lazio at the San Siro on Saturday for the evening match. While Lazio come into this match in 12th place, they seem to have found their form just ahead of our clash. Without Milinković-Savić, whom Lotito finally sold this summer, Lazio have not been the same team that finished second in Serie A last season. However, they also did not make nearly as many changes as Milan, so this will absolutely not be a guaranteed win for the Rossoneri. After fighting back from a brutal Derby loss and even more brutal ravaging from the Italian media, this match is just the first in a series of difficult matches for Milan. Not just one battle, but an all-out war that will test this team with fire for the next month. For today, though, Pioli will be focused on Lazio, preparing for battle.

The troops are ready.

After consistently being offered €50-€70 million or perhaps more every year for star midfielder Milinković-Savić, Lotito finally let him go to Saudi Arabia this summer for only €40 million. While Lotito did not even reinvest quite all of that money, he capitalized on Cardinale's brazen decisions at the beginning of the summer which left Daichi Kamada, who was planning a move to Milan, without a contract. Kamada has played the most minutes of any of Lazio's new signings, which also include Juve loanees Nicolò Rovella and Luca Pellegrini, as well as players like Mattéo Guendouzi, Taty Castellanos, and Gustav Isaksen.

What might have been...

Perhaps the most talked about Lazio player this season, however, is goalkeeper Ivan Provedel, who scored an amazing header in stoppage time in their Champions League opener vs. Atletico Madrid to grab a point. Yes, you read that correctly, he is the goalkeeper. In his very first Champions League match. That 1-1 draw and their two league wins vs. Napoli and Torino are Lazio's big successes thus far this season.

That guy wearing Nesta's number watching Provedel's goal looks familiar...

For their 2-0 win over Torino on Wednesday, Sarri lined up: Provedel; Lazzari, Casale, our former captain, Romagnoli, Marusic; Vecino, Rovella, Luis Alberto; Felipe Anderson, Immobile, and Zaccagni. While we knew Romagnoli was a lifelong Lazio fan when we signed him, after seven years at Milan and lifting our Scudetto just over a year ago, it is still strange to see him wearing a different shirt. He was injured in the Torino match, and while he played the full match, x-rays afterward found he had fractured his nose. Despite that, he is still expected to be available on Saturday, albeit with a protective mask. At least the badass mask will distract from the strange jersey. Sarri has no other injuries as of this writing.

Sportiello has done very well, but the return of Maignan always gives us an added boost.

Pioli is definitely managing injuries, with Bennacer, Kalulu, and Krunić all still missing for this match. The good news, though, is that Maignan, who was kept home as a precaution midweek, is expected to return to the starting lineup on Saturday. Also expected to start are Rafa Leão and Giroud, who were mainly rested midweek. Another player reported to get another start is Adli, who impressed when he deputized for Krunić on Wednesday. 

Depending on the fitness of Calabria, Pioli may have him return to the starting lineup as well, otherwise it will be Florenzi, the grinta man, joining the other three starting defenders. I would assume that it would be Loftus-Cheek and Reijnders joining Adli in midfield, however Musah has also impressed and makes a case for playing time as well. While Pulisic started the season off getting himself on the scoresheet twice and has since faded a bit, Pioli may still prefer him ahead of Chukwueze, unless he is looking for the latter's physicality. And who knows, maybe the tiny but mighty Luka Romero will be given some time against his former club.

One of these players is having a great season... spot the difference.

The 3-1 win over Cagliari midweek actually marked Pioli's 200th win, as well. Unlike Rafa Leão, who is still a lightning rod for the Italian media (not unlike players such as Romelu Lukaku and Mario Balotelli... I wonder if there is some kind of connection?), Pioli seems to have been forgiven. Which is weird, because Pioli coached Milan to five straight Derby losses and refused to apologize, whereas Rafa Leão is having his best Serie A start and even captained the team last week, yet is still criticized. (Maybe there is something to that theory?) But at least one of them will be able to work in peace.

All I know is that the battle on the pitch will be enough, Milan players do not need any of the distractions Lazio fans are so well-known for. They will have been preparing for the football, which should be an important gauge to see how prepared this squad are for the crucial upcoming league and European fixtures. If Milan can get through October's fixture list and not sustain too many more injuries, there may be a strong argument for optimism through at least the rest of this half of the season, as that will give this team time to gel and grow as a team. First, however, they have to conquer Lazio. 

This post inspired by the music of The Prodigy's "Breathe"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 7
Milan vs. Lazio
Saturday, September 30, 2023 • 18:00 CEST (12noon EDT)
In the U.S., you can use a VPN to access a Serie A provider elsewhere
For example, sign up for BeIn Sports in Australia or SuperSport in South Africa,
they both use the World Feed commentary for Serie A, which is fantastic
(*and they also do not sponsor Inter's kits)

Milan-Lazio Preview: Preparing for Battle Milan-Lazio Preview: Preparing for Battle Reviewed by Elaine on 6:00 AM Rating: 5
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