AC Milan will lock horns with relegation-battling Cremonese at San Siro on Wednesday in a must-win encounter to stay firm in the race for the top four.

Fresh off the back of picking up a valuable last-gasp point at Roma, AC Milan return to home comforts on Wednesday evening, where they are odds-on favourites to pocket three points against second-from-bottom Cremonese.

AC Milan stretched their unbeaten streak across all competitions to seven games after playing out a 1-1 share of spoils away against Roma last weekend, their third stalemate with the same scoreline in their last four games.

It was a weird game in the Italian capital, and was goalless heading into stoppage time until Tammy Abraham scored what looked to be a 94th-minute last-gasp for the hosts, only for Alexis Saelemaekers to sprint up the other end three minutes later to score a dramatic leveller and salvage a point for the visitors at the death.

While head coach Stefano Pioli will be satisfied with a point from the capital on Saturday, they are now tied on points with Inter Milan and Roma and just two points ahead of Atalanta, as only one of these quartet will be able to secure a top-four finish with six games left to play in the Serie A season.

Therefore, the Rossoneri can ill-afford a slip-up when they host Cremonese, with high-flying Lazio set to come to town after this one. Relegation favourites Cremonese, meanwhile, are running out of time to pull off a big escape, and they know that anything but a victory on Wednesday will put them on the brink of dropping to Serie B.

Their run to the Coppa Italia semi-finals was a pleasant distraction from a turbulent top-flight campaign, but it also came to an abrupt end as they lost 2-0 on aggregate to Fiorentina earlier last month, so things look pretty bleak for them.

They missed a big chance to get closer to the safety places last Sunday when they only drew 1-1 with direct relegation rivals Hellas Verona at Stadio Giovanni Zini. As a result, Davide Ballardini’s men remain 19th in the table and are seven points below the safe zone line.

Cremonese can take solace from the fact that they held AC Milan to a goalless draw in the reverse fixture in first half of the season in Cremona. Ahead of this lop-sided match-up between the two sides, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

AC Milan

Fikayo Tomori, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Tommaso Pobega all underwent their own individual sessions rather than full training with the whole team ahead of the game against Cremonese.

Tomori sustained an injury against AS Roma, which he is expected to recover from quickly, but he is suspended for the Cremonese game regardless. Both Pobega and Ibrahimovic may not be able to recover in time to feature in any capacity against the Grigiorossi at San Siro on Wednesday night, although they weren’t starters anyway.

Mike Maignan will keep his place in the rearguard, as will skipper Davide Calabria and marauding left-back Theo Hernandez, but the potential absence of Tomori could see a double change at centre-back with Pierre Kalulu and Malick Thiaw handed starts.

Milan boss Stefano Pioli may also consider a reshuffle in midfield and attack considering Milan’s hectic fixture schedule, with Aster Vranckx likely to be handed an opportunity to partner alongside Sandro Tonali, whereas Ismael Bennacer will be tasked with playmaking duties in the most attacking role.

Brahim Diaz should get a rest, with the Spaniard replaced by Alexis Saelemaekers. Rafael Leao is expected to start on the left wing, with Divock Origi set to spearhead the attack up front.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Calabria, Thiaw, Kalulu, Theo; Vranckx, Tonali; Saelemaekers, Bennacer, Leao; Origi


Cremonese coach Davide Ballardini has a fair few player unavailability issues ahead of the trip to Milan. Full-back Giacomo Quagliata is suspended following the red card he received after just 10 minutes of his introduction from the bench last weekend. In addition, Marco Benassi and Frank Tsadjout are set to miss out again due to injury.

However, that is unlikely to worry the relegation-threatened outfit much, as Ballardini could stick with very much the same starting XI that faced the Gialloblu.

Vlad Chiriches made a comeback from injury to make the matchday squad against Verona. And if Ballardini opts for a back three, he could be chosen to start at centre back alongside Johan Vasquez and Luka Lochoshvili, in front of goalkeeper Marco Carnesecchi.

Valeri and Cristian Buonaiuto should start in the wing-back spots and will be expected to provide width in the afternoon. The former can also drop back to form a flat back four when defending.

Soualiho Meite, Michele Castagnetti, and Charles Pickel will function as the midfield trio and will be keen to hold the line against Milan’s attackers. With six goals each this season, David Okereke, Daniel Ciofani, and Cyriel Dessers are the joint top scorers for Cremonese this season. The striker trio will battle it out for two spots up front.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Carnesecchi; Chiriches, Vasquez, Lochoshvili; Valeri, Pickel, Castagnetti, Meite, Buonaiuto; Okereke, Dessers

Key Stats

  • Cremonese have struggled with the rigours of the Italian top-flight, as they are winless in 29 of their 32 Serie A matches this season.
  • AC Milan are on a six-game winning streak at home against Cremonese.
  • The hosts are unbeaten in their last five Serie A home games, keeping four clean sheets.
  • Milan have scored in all but one of their league games at home this term.
  • The visitors have a dreadful away record of 1 win, 7 draws, and 8 defeats in 16 league games on the road this term.

Player to Watch

Rafael Leao

Embed from Getty Images

Following a difficult start to the new calendar year, Leao seems to be hitting his stride at the right moment for Milan. He was pivotal in their season-defining three-peat over Napoli, which not only bagged them a morale-boosting three points in Serie A but also resulted in their progression to the Champions League semi-finals.

He continued his strong run of form, and his brace against Lecce took his league tally for the season to 12 goals, accounting for his most prolific campaign at the San Siro. Meanwhile, the Portuguese international has become a hot property in the transfer market.

Against Roma, he was the only source of creativity up front for Milan, as he at least made something happen. The assist for Alexis Saelemaekers was, of course, crucial in Milan coming away with a vital point. He will look to dazzle San Siro once again, and get on the scoresheet against a mistake-prone Cremonese backline.


AC Milan 2-0 Cremonese

The visitors desperately need points in order to escape relegation. But there is really not much to suggest they would come away with anything on Wednesday. Cremonese’s recent away form is concerning as well. So we are finding it incredibly difficult to look beyond a routine victory for the home side, who should have far too much on the evening.

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