Serie A Preview: AC Milan v. Torino

Date: Saturday, February 27, 2016

Kickoff: 2:45 PM ET (USA) / 20:45 CET (ITA)

League Position: Milan (6), Torino (11)

Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy

Even the most cynical Milanisti have to admit the recent undefeated streak has been at least slightly encouraging. Mihajlovic at the very least has made them hard to beat and the chase down the stretch to catch Inter might actually be fun. But we’ve got to keep the good times rolling as a sputtering Torino side visits the San Siro this weekend.

A draw won’t do this Saturday, as we need to start collecting full points if we want to qualify for Europe through the league. Coppa Italia still presents us a solid opportunity, but if at least finishing ahead of Inter can’t get you invested I don’t know what will.

Tale of the Tape

Last 6 Serie A matches:

Milan: DWWDWD
Torino: LDDLWD

In addition to being undefeated in 8, we’ve not lost to Torino in 16 consecutive matches in all competitions. One of the few sides we’ve maintained reasonable dominance over, though it should be said 4 of the last 6 have ended in draws, including the first meeting this season.

Set pieces continue to be a double-edged sword for us with 9 scored and 9 conceded. Torino can relate with 7 scored and 8 conceded. The visitors also commit 17 fouls per match, highest in the league, so we should get our chances.

We’ve got slightly better possession numbers (51% to 49%) and slightly worse pass success (81% to 79%), so take a sobering moment for a second and realize that five goals scored and five fewer goals  conceded is still really all that separates us from Torino.

Both of these sides take a lot of crosses (22 for Torino, 19 for Milan) yet Milan approach more directly from the wings, a weakness for Torino. With both Abate and Antonelli in good form Milan’s gameplan should not waver from their recent successes.

Not to jinx it, but is this the longest Abate's been healthy in 3 years?

Not to jinx it, but is this the longest Abate’s been healthy in 3 years?

Missing Pieces

Montolivo is suspended which I know brings tears to your eyes. Presumably tears of joy. Luiz Adriano, Mexes, Ely, and of course Diego Lopez are all out injured.

Marco Benassi is Torino’s disqualified midfielder, joined in the stands by the injured Cesare Bovo, Alessandro Gazzi, and Danilo Avelar.

Possible Line-up

Donnarumma

Abate – Alex -Romagnoli – Antonelli

Honda – Kucka – Mauri – Bonaventura

Bacca – Niang

There’s nothing real original about this line-up, and that’s OK because warts and all, at least we have a pretty good idea of our best line-up.

Montolivo’s suspension pleases most of the Milanisti I know, but Bertolacci has failed to impress me too. With Kucka providing real industry and some protection, I will once again call for Mauri’s inclusion, provided he too is fit.

Zapata had a hell of a match against Napoli but I’d wager he returns to the bench and Milan’s most used back four returns.

It’s business as usual in the rest of the midfield and up front, with Niang hopefully about to get going again.

Sneaky good signing.

Sneaky good signing.

What to Watch for:

Danger Man – Andrea Belotti is Torino’s leading scorer with 6 goals, 5 of which cam during a hot streak from January to early February. He’s also the leading assist man with 3, but obviously consistency hasn’t been his thing. So I think I have to say Ciro Immobile is the most likely match-winner for Torino. Recently returned to a team where he was incredibly potent, he turned in a man of the match performance against with a brace against Palermo two rounds back and is the man I most fear on Saturday.

Some Cohesion – Look for it, it’s there I promise! Of course this is not the Milan of old, but with a fairly consistent starting eleven now emerging, you can see the understanding developing among certain players. Abate and Honda on the right side, Bacca and Bonaventura combining, it’s been a long time coming but there’s a little bit of a spark at the San Siro again. At least on the field.

About Dave Lamb

Dave Lamb is a lifelong Milan supporter, public school teacher, and aspiring stand-up comedian living in Boston. You can follow him on twitter @DaveLambComedy

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