AC Milan and Torino will battle it out for the second time in three days when the two teams face each other in the Round of 16 of Coppa Italia this midweek.
The Round of 16 of the 2020/21 Coppa Italia gets underway on Tuesday night, as Serie A leaders AC Milan kick things off against Torino at San Siro.
AC Milan have been the most in-form team in Italy this season. The Rossoneri were unbeaten in domestic competitions this season until last week when they lost to reigning Italian champions Juventus. But, Stefano Pioli’s men bounced back to winning ways at the weekend, beating Torino 2-0 at home. They will now be aiming to carry that momentum forward into the cup competition.
Torino, meanwhile, have endured a poor start to the 2020/21 season and find themselves embroiled in the relegation battle, following their defeat to Milan at the weekend. However, they have been in good touch in Coppa Italia, having beaten Lecce and Virtus Entella in the previous two rounds and will be hoping to progress further in the competition with a win on Tuesday.
With AC Milan looking to start their cup journey on a positive note and Torino aiming to get back to winning ways, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Sandro Tonali and Brahim Diaz picked up injuries at the weekend but have recovered and will be available for selection on Tuesday night. However, Alexis Saelemaekers remains sidelined along with Matteo Gabbia and Ismael Bennacer. In addition, Ante Rebic and Rade Krunic miss out due to coronavirus.
Manager Stefano Pioli is expected to make some changes to the side that started in the previous game against Torino, but wholesale alterations are unlikely. Ciprian Tatarusanu should replace first-choice goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma in goal for the Rossoneri.
Diogo Dalot should get the nod as the right-back while Theo Hernandez starts on the left. Both full-backs, especially the latter, will have key roles to play with their forward bursts and attacking intent. Pierre Kalulu should come in to replace Simon Kjaer as Alessio Romagnoli’s partner at the heart of the Milan defence.
Franck Kessie is a certainty in the middle of the park and will provide the box-to-box presence. The fit-again Tonali should partner him in the double pivot and look to break up play effectively while starting attacks from the deep. The playmaking responsibilities will fall on the shoulders of Brahim Diaz, with Hakim Calhanoglu unlikely to be risked.
Samu Castillejo should get the nod on the right flank while Jens Petter Hauge should start on the left. The Norwegian will look to drift infield, allowing space for Hernandez to bomb forward and send in crosses. While Zlatan Ibrahimovic is available again, he is likely to be used from the bench again, with Rafael Leao leading the line.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Tatarusanu; Dalot, Kalulu, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Kessie, Tonali; Castillejo, Diaz, Hauge; Leao
Striker Federico Bonazzoli will miss out for the visitors after picking up an injury in training on Monday. Apart from that, there are no other notable absentees for Torino ahead of the game at San Siro. But, manager Marco Giampaolo is expected to make several changes to the team that lost at the weekend.
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No changes are expected in the formation, with the Granata likely to set up in a 3-5-2 shape. Vanja Milinkovic-Savic is likely to get the nod in goal as he did in the previous two cup games. Armando Izzo should hold on to his spot in the three-man backline along with Lyanco. But Bremer, who has been linked with Liverpool, could make way for Nicolas N’Koulou.
Mergim Vojvoda could get the nod as the right wing-back while Nicola Murru should step in on the left, ahead of Ricardo Rodriguez. The duo will act as the source of width going forward for Torino but will have to be wary of the threat posed by the opposition full-backs themselves, especially Theo Hernandez.
With Tomas Rincon suspended for the next Serie A clash, he is likely to start here in midfield. He will sit deep and look to break Milan’s build-up play, with support coming from Karol Linetty and Daniele Baselli. The duo will also have the added responsibility of pushing forward to support the attackers.
Torino captain Andrea Belotti has been an ever-present figure in the starting XI but could be given some rest here. In his stead, Simone Zaza should upfront with Simone Verdi playing off of him.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Milinkovic-Savic; Izzo, N’Koulou, Lyanco; Vojvoda, Baselli, Rincon, Linetty, Murru; Verdi, Zaza
- AC Milan and Torino have faced each other 189 times till date in all competitions. The Rossoneri have the upper-hand in the head-to-head record with 71 wins compared to 52 for the Granata (D66).
- However, in Coppa Italia, Torino have come out on top 10 times in 23 games against Milan, while losing seven (D6).
- AC Milan have won four of their last five Coppa Italia matches against Torino, including a 4-2 triumph (after extra-time) in the quarter-finals last season.
- After a run of six games without a defeat in all competitions against AC Milan, Torino have lost each of their last three against the Rossoneri. They have failed to score in the last two matches.
- The Rossoneri have been eliminated at the semi-final stages in both the last seasons. They lost 1-0 on aggregate to Lazio in 2018/19 and lost out to Juventus on the away-goal rule last term after the two-legged tie ended 1-1.
Player to Watch
The Portuguese forward has really stepped up for AC Milan when they have had key players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ante Rebic missing due to various reasons. In 18 games this term, Rafael Leao has scored six goals and set up four more, including four direct goal involvements in the last five league games.
With Ibrahimovic likely to be eased back into the thick of things, Stefano Pioli will once again look up to the 21-year-old Leao to come up with the goods, having already done so at the weekend against Torino.
AC Milan 2-0 Torino
Even though Stefano Pioli is likely to make a few alterations to his first-choice starting lineup, AC Milan have momentum on their side heading into the game. Torino, on the other hand, are struggling to put together a run of positive results, and with there being the possibility of star striker Andrea Belotti being rested, their chances look bleak. To that end, The Hard Tackle predicts a win for the Rossoneri on Tuesday.