After a decent start to 2016, the Rossoneri have hit a downturn in form as they will be coming into this game having picked up just one point from their last two league games. First was a loss to Sassuolo, who has become a bogeyman for AC Milan since the Neroverdi arrived on the Serie A scene less than three seasons ago. This was then followed up by a frustrating scoreless stalemate against Chievo, which given the precarious situation Siniša Mihajlović finds himself in, will surely have felt more like two points dropped as opposed to one won.
In fact, if reports are to be believed, the Serbian tactician is living on borrowed time at the San Siro. With President Silvio Berlusconi not being shy in his (unrealistic) demands for a third-place finish – something that, if at the start of the season was a tall order, is indeed a virtually impossible task at this point – AC Milan will be desperate to head into the international break with a win over Lazio to at least keep some gap between themselves and Sassuolo.
Although the hosts are unbeaten in ten out of their last 11 away games, a majority of these have been draws. And as any football fan knows, a stalemate is not a loss, but it nonetheless means two points dropped – something that a team in AC Milan’s situation can hardly afford. Fortunately, the Diavolo have a good record against the Aquile, in particularly at their home ground, where Lazio have not won since September 1989.
The hosts will likely have to make do without young goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma after the 17-year-old suffered a head injury against Chievo, and he is reportedly now suffering from a cold, meaning that Christian Abbiati could be handed a rare chance to start. Luiz Adriano is another who could return to the fold after a long injury lay-off, and Carlos Bacca, who has not scored in his last four Serie A appearances will be hoping to find his shooting boots soon after a solid start to his debut season in Serie A.
On that day, an unfortunate own goal from Paolo Maldini – showing that even the most legendary defenders can have a bad day at the office – was enough to give the Biancocelesti a win. Since then, it has been 15 losses and ten draws for Lazio, who, like AC Milan, will also be hoping to head into the international hiatus with a win.
Although the Biancocelesti picked up all three points against Atalanta – courtesy of a brace from veteran striker Miroslav Klose – Stefano Pioli’s men will still be reeling after their disappointing result from midweek. The Aquile thought they were just 90 minutes away from a quarter-finals spot in the Europa League having scored a vital away goal in their first leg tie with Sparta Praha. However, the Czech side absolutely shocked Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico this past Thursday by scoring three goals without reply, and that, coupled with Juve’s loss to Bayern Munich, mean that Italy have no representatives in the quarterfinals in European competition.
Given that they presently are in eighth place, and are out of the Coppa Italia, the Europa League represented not only Lazio’s only chance to win some silverware but also their ticket to European football next season. After inconsistency in the league, Pioli will now have to focus all his energies on trying to pick up as many points as possible out of their last nine remaining, starting with Sunday’s match. For this game, the visitors will still be contending with a long injury list as Stefan Radu, Filip Djordjevic, Ricardo Kishna, Dusan Basta, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic will not be available.
Both AC Milan and Lazio indeed will be desperate to pick up a win in this fixture as they attempt to stage a late rally to climb the table. Will the Biancocelesti finally end their long hoodoo at the San Siro? Or will the Diavolo manage to finally score after two games without a goal (the last time they went three sans netting was back in November 2001)?
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