Relegation-threatened Cremonese will face an uphill battle when defending champions AC Milan arrive at the Giovanni Zini Stadium on Tuesday.

Struggling Cremonese will face a David vs Goliath scenario when defending champions AC Milan come calling on Tuesday night.

Massimiliano Alvini’s side are yet to win a single game in Serie A this season and are struggling to make an impact in their first top-flight campaign since 1996. Despite being the only side in the Italian top flight still to secure a win this season, Cremonese have drawn six of q132 games and are a mere three points off the 17th spot.

A win will certainly be a morale booster for the minnows ahead of the upcoming World Cup hiatus, but it will be an almighty shock to upset Milan on the night. Stefano Pioli’s side might not be pulling away at the top of the standings but are one of the best teams in the country and will be keen to not drop any more points in their title defence.

The Rossoneri are coming off a stoppage-time win over Spezia at the weekend and will be in good spirits. Stefano Pioli’s side have not quite hit top gear yet but should be expected to secure all three points at the Giovanni Zini Stadium.

History has not been kind for the home side in this fixture, with Milan winning ten of their 14 meetings in the league. This will, however, be the first time that the Rossoneri travel to the arena since 1996 and will hope to continue their streak on the night. The Hard Tackle looks at how both teams could line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.

Team News & Tactics


Le Tigri will be without defender Matteo Bianchetti who picked up an injury last month against Udinese. He missed the game against Salernitana at the weekend and will continue to watch on from the sidelines.

Cremonese will also be without the trio of Cyriel Dessers, Vlad Chiriches and Ionut Radu, all of whom are nursing various injuries. This, if anything, makes their job harder against a formidable opponent. Perhaps to even out the difference in quality, Milan too have several players out injured or suspended for the night.

Despite their inability to keep things tight at the back, Cremonese have impressed going forward. With little to lose on the night, they are likely to play to their strengths and set up in a 3-4-3 formation.

Marco Carnesecchi will start in goal behind the back three of Emanuel Aiwu, Jack Hendry and Luka Lochoshvili. Leonardo Sernicola and Giacomo Quagliata should start in the full-back spots and will be expected to provide width on the night. The duo can also drop back to form a flat back five when defending.

Soualiho Meite and Charles Pickel will function as the double pivot and will be keen to hold the line against Milan’s attackers. Cristian Buonaiuto could be deployed as the no. 10 and will be tasked with crafting opportunities for the front two of Frank Tsadjout and David Okereke.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Carnesecchi; Aiwu, Hendry, Lochoshvili; Sernicola, Meite, Pickel, Quagliata; Buonaiuto; Tsadjout, Okereke

AC Milan

AC Milan have their share of injuries, with several players currently on the treatment table. Mike Maignan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alexis Saelemaekers are all out and are some way off from returning to action.

Davide Calabria and Alessandro Florenzi are out as they continue to deal with thigh and muscle injuries, respectively. To compound matters for Pioli, he will be without the duo of Olivier Giroud and Theo Hernandez, both of whom are suspended for the game. Sergino Dest will also be unavailable, leaving Poili short of options at full-back. 

The AC Milan boss is unlikely to deviate from his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation and should have enough players in reserve to overwhelm Cremonese. Anything less than three points would be a shock indeed.

Ciprian Tatarusanu should continue in goal behind a back four of Pierre Kalulu, Fikayo Tomori, Simon Kjaer, and Fode Ballo-Toure. Hernandez in particular will be a huge miss at both ends of the pitch. So the onus will be on Ballo-Toure to strike a chord with Rafael Leao upfield.

Ismael Bennacer and Sandro Tonali will aim to hold down the fort as the double pivot, providing the base for the offensive talents on the field to push forward. The onus to fashion goalscoring opportunities will fall on the trio of Junior Messias, Ante Rebic and Rafael Leao, with Divock Origi leading the line.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Tatarusanu; Kalulu, Tomori, Kjaer, Ballo-Toure; Bennacer, Tonali; Messias, Rebic, Leao; Origi

Key Stats

  • Cremonese are yet to win a single game in Serie A this season.
  • AC Milan have scored 27 goals so far in Serie A, a tally bettered only by table-toppers Napoli.
  • Cremonese have conceded 24 goals in 13 games in Serie A this season. This is the second-worst defensive record, with only bottom-placed Hellas Verona letting in more.
  • AC Milan have lost just once in their opening six away games in Serie A this season.
  • Both teams have faced off 14 times in Serie A so far, with Milan coming out on top 10 times. Cremonese have won two games with the remaining two ending in a draw. Cremonese have kept a clean sheet in three of their last five home games against AC Milan. However, the last time Milan visited them in Serie A was in 1996.
  • AC Milan are unbeaten in 25 of their 26 previous games against newly promoted teams in Serie A. The lone loss came in February 2021 against Spezia. 

Player to Watch

Rafael Leao

Embed from Getty Images

With several players out, the onus will fall on the reigning Serie A MVP’s shoulders to provide the spark in attack. Leao has blown hot and cold this season and struggled to maintain consistency across the campaign. With Theo Hernandez also unavailable, he will be tasked with wreaking havoc on the left wing and providing an outlet for Divock Origi upfront.

A return of six goals and nine assists in 18 does appear prolific, but Leao has failed to turn up on occasions, costing his side dear. The most recent of them was in Milan’s last away game at Torino where he was pulled at half-time in a 2-1 defeat. The time is now for Leao to step up and keep his side in the hunt for the league crown ahead of the World Cup hiatus.


Cremonese 1-2 AC Milan

With several first-team stars missing, AC Milan could find themselves having to put in the extra effort to secure the win on the night. While the Cremonese attack could cause them problems, their open defence gives the visitors the edge on the night.

Stefano Pioli also has a better squad on paper, even with his missing stars and should see them make that difference count on Tuesday. It might not be pretty or dominant, but Milan should come away with a win by two goals.

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