Serie A Preview: AC Milan v. Lazio

Date: Sunday, March 20, 2016

Kickoff: 3:45 PM ET (USA)  /  20:45 CET (ITA)

League Position: Milan (6), Lazio (8)

Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy

Oh cautious optimism, why did I allow you to creep into my skull? Things are looking, well, pretty typical for Milan both on and off the field of play again these days. Our unbeaten run now decidedly at an end, a lame squad with a likely lame-duck manager welcomes Lazio, fresh off of their own humiliation, to the San Siro on Sunday.

The state of Milan can best be described as stagnant at this point. Sixth place is about all we deserve, if we deserve it at all, and there are few signs besides some occasional flashes on the pitch that Milanisti should feel good about upcoming seasons. Berlusconi and company seem content to coast on history and the love and goodwill of the fans.

The history is permanent, but it’s no way to maintain real support, or to run any kind of club/business for that matter. Results matter. Beating Sassuolo some day matters. 0-0 at Chievo matters.

The manager answers the question, "how many seasons can you stand to work with Silvio Berlusconi?"

The manager answers the question, “how many seasons can you stand to work with Silvio Berlusconi?”

Tale of the Tape

Last 6 Serie A matches:

Milan: DWDWLD
Lazio: DWDLDW

Found a team worse at defending free kicks than us! Lazio have conceded 11 goals from such situations, while we’re still on 10. We’ve also scored 10 to their 5, so give us the edge their I suppose.

Lazio are quick to break (they have 23 interceptions average per match, second in the league) and they have a number of skilled players that can attack the box, resulting in four counter attacking goals and 6 penalties (made, anyway).

The visitors will want to get wide, up the right side 40% of the time specifically. They attempt 29 crosses per match, ten more than us and tops in Serie A. They’ve only recorded 3 headed goals though, and we’ve got 8, so believe it or not we are a more efficient crossing team than an opponent this weekend.

Kind of a weird stat, but I always think of Lazio as a really tough team, and was surprised they are low on the charts when it comes to blocking crosses and shots. They are bottom 3 of the league in both categories with 65 shots and 63 crosses stopped. We’re not the best, but solidly average with 90 blocked shots and 88 blocked crosses on the season.

Missing Pieces

Niang remains out after his accident, and the now much more heavily missed Montolivo and Kucka are injured as well. Donnarumma was removed from the Chievo match but it was reported his injury is not serious. Still, I see a few sources claiming he is now struggling with illness, so it looks like Abbiati will see some non-Coppa Italia action this weekend.

No suspensions for either side. Lazio are without the services of the injured De Vrij, Radu, Konko, Bisevac, and Basta.

Possible Line-up

Abbiati

Abate – Alex – Romagnoli – Antonelli

Honda – Mauri – Bertolacci – Bonventura

Bacca – Luiz Adriano

Abbiati’s start is definitely something to pay attention to should Donnarumma actually miss out. Should the veteran see his firs Serie A start in some time, best to keep a consistent defense in front of him. This back line has not been perfect, but I can hardly blame the unit for our more sub-par results.

No Montolivo and no Kucka leaves Mihajlovic with a real perplexing task trying to craft a central midfield this week. Bertolacci’s still a bust until he can show me otherwise, and it’s got to be Mauri over Poli right? Got to be. Honda and Jack keep plugging away on the flanks. They should be busy this weekend.

The question of who to partner with Bacca is also one I’m glad I don’t have to answer in real life. Every option is either not totally fit or has barely featured in a meaningful way this season. I say give Luiz Adriano a go again this weekend. It was supposed to work in August, let’s see if anything’s changed by March.

Playing eeny-meeny-miny-mo to choose the other striker.

Playing eeny-meeny-miny-mo to choose the other striker.

What to Watch for:

Danger Man – Most dangerous man on the field for Lazio, for me, will be Felipe Anderson. The young Brazilian can play essentially any attacking position, and hurt you in a number of ways, including shots from distance. With 8 goals in all campaigns, along with 3 Serie A assists, it’s a good bet he’s involved in any goals from the visitors this weekend.

Mentality – Are the players as deflated as the fans? You’d understand if they are but if they play like it it’s going to be a rough finish. Hard to believe (in a broader sense) that we’re at this point again but some of these players have to play to prove they should stay, and show some pride and passion even in a sputtering campaign that appears to have finally stalled. I expect they can all get up for the cup final they actually qualified for, but the attitude shown by the players as Serie A winds down will reveal a lot about their professionalism and character.

 

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post Navigation