AC Milan vs Empoli: Preview and Prediction

Fresh off the back of their European win in midweek, AC Milan will return to Serie A action when they host Serie A strugglers Empoli at San Siro on Sunday.

AC Milan will look to carry on their recent form and stay alive in the top-two race as they welcome relegation-threatened Empoli to San Siro on Sunday afternoon. The hosts are third in the standings with 56 points, while the visitors are 14th with just 25 points.

Stefano Pioli’s side come into this one on the back of a 4-2 defeat of Slavia Prague in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League Round of 16 tie at San Siro in midweek. Prior to that, Noah Okafor came off the bench to give the Rossoneri a late win in Rome against Lazio despite playing with a numerical advantage for almost the entire second half.

While AC Milan have been flying high of late, the same cannot be said for Empoli, who fell to a 1-0 defeat to Calgiari last week. They are still perilously close to the relegation zone, with only two points separating them from the bottom three. Davide Nicola is the manager tasked with trying to keep them up, and they have picked up 12 points from the seven games since he took charge.

Team News & Tactics

AC Milan

AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli will be forced to make at least two changes to the starting XI that took to the field on Thursday due to the one-match bans for both maverick winger Rafael Leao and experienced defender Alessandro Florenzi.

Noah Okafor and Samuel Chukwueze are competing to replace Leao, while club captain Davide Calabria should replace Florenzi at right-back. Meanwhile, veteran centre-back Simon Kjaer could be rested here, with Matteo Gabbia and Malick Thiaw set to form the central defensive pairing in front of goalkeeper Mike Maignan.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Calabria, Thiaw, Gabbia, Hernandez; Bennacer, Reijnders; Pulisic, Loftus-Cheek, Okafor; Giroud


Empoli boss Davide Nicola welcomed Emmanuel Gyasi back from suspension over the weekend, with the Ghanaian winger making a substitute appearance off the bench. With Tyronne Ebuehi still ruled out by injury, Gyasi will compete with Matteo Cancellieri for selection on Empoli’s right flank.

Up front, M’Baye Niang will hope his run of three goals from four games proves enough to displace fellow January signing Alberto Cerri this weekend, with Atalanta loanee Nicolo Cambiaghi likely to start in support of either striker.

Alberto Grassi and Francesco Caputo will both join Ebuehi on the sidelines, while Szymon Zurkowski could make a return to the fold after recovering from an ankle problem.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Caprile; Ismajli, Walukiewicz, Luperto; Gyasi, Maleh, Marin, Cacace; Zurkowski, Cambiaghi; Niang

Key Stats

  • The hosts unsurprisingly have a far superior recent record against Empoli, winning 13 out of the past 23 matches played between the two teams, as opposed to Empoli’s three victories (D7).
  • AC Milan have won five of their last six matches against Empoli in all competitions.
  • The Rossoneri have been very entertaining to watch throughout the campaign, with their 27 Serie A matches producing 83 goals.
  • Empoli have an underperforming attacking line, with only 22 league goals this season.
  • AC Milan are unbeaten in 11 of their last 12 Serie A games.

Player to Watch

Olivier Giroud

Embed from Getty Images

Although the Frenchman has only scored two goals in his last six outings for AC Milan, Olivier Giroud has been in good form for them over the course of the season, with 12 goals to his name so far. Fresh off a starring performance in midweek, he should be highly motivated to extend his league goal tally against Empoli.


AC Milan 2-1 Empoli

AC Milan are overwhelming favourites for what should be a high-scoring and entertaining encounter on Sunday afternoon. The Azzurri are a much more competent outfit under Davide Nicola. But they lack the attacking potency to cause serious problems for the hosts on Sunday.

AC Milan should be able to rotate their squad between European contests and still collect maximum points against Empoli. The Hard Tackle predicts a hard-fought 2-1 win for Stefano Pioli and his charges.

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