Serie A league leaders AC Milan travel to struggling Cagliari this evening.
The Sardinian hosts sit just two points above the relegation zone and are on a winless streak of 10 games. On the flip side, Milan are level at the top of the table with rivals Inter, but have played a game less. Therefore, victory tonight would give the Milanese an outright advantage over Antonio Conte’s men.
An already tough task for Cagliari looks that bit harder tonight as Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to make his league return. Looking to pick up from where he left off, Zlatan has hit the net ten times in his last seven matches.
The Swedish superstar is pivotal to Milan’s title charge and may well play his part in matching a club record of scoring goals in 19 consecutive Serie A away games, a feat that was last achieved between March 1992 and April 1993. To make matters worse for the home side, Zlatam Ibrahimovic has also scored in each of his last six league games against Cagliari.
As for the hosts, Cagliari sit 16th in the league table and are now in grave danger of being relegated. Eusebio Di Francesco’s team have been criticised for being too weak in defence and the manager is under fire, despite his credentials as a former Roma coach, due to the startling fact that Cagliari have not won a league match since November 2020.
After being eliminated from the Coppa Italia in midweek, the Sardinian club are now experiencing their worst run of results since 2013. They also have 15 points less than they had accumulated last season.
Despite that negativity, Riccardo Sottil, who scored during the week, has publicly claimed that the squad are convinced that Di Francesco can turn things around (according to Sports Mole).
Both teams will be somewhat depleted tonight. Rafael Leao is suspended for Milan, whilst Ante Rebic is self-isolating. San Siro midfielder Rade Krunic also remains in quarantine, but it is hoped that Ismael Bennacer and Alexis Saelemaekers will be back in action after suffering from thigh strains.
To compound the Rossoneri’s difficulties, centre-back Matteo Gabbia is doubtful with a knee complaint, and it has been confirmed that Milan will also be without Theo Hernandez and Hakan Calhanoglu, both of whom tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday.
Cagliari’s selection difficulties lie with Marko Rog (out for the season), Paolo Farago and Zito Luvumbo who are injured, plus centre-backs Ragnar Klavan and Andrea Carboni who both miss out after testing positive for COVID-19.
Important midfielder Nahitan Nandez is still suspended after his red card in the defeat to Benevento, thus Adam Ounas is likely to start in the midfield three supporting Giovanni Simeone up front.