MX23RW : Sunday, April 18 20:48:13| >> :120:9955:9955:
Mar 3, 2021 at 7.45pm UK at San Siro
AC MilanAC Milan
1-1
UdineseUdinese
Kessie (90+7' pen.)
Rebic (24'), Hernandez (32'), Romagnoli (90+2'), Kessie (90+4')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Becao (68')
Zeegelaar (54')

Preview: AC Milan vs. Udinese - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Serie A clash between AC Milan and Udinese, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Scudetto challengers AC Milan return to the scene of their recent struggles, as they host a mid-table Udinese side at San Siro on Wednesday.

Having faltered on home turf of late, the Rossoneri pulled off an excellent victory away to Roma at the weekend to stay within touching distance of city rivals Inter at the Serie A summit, while the visitors also won to establish a ten-point gap between themselves and the relegation zone.


Match preview

AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic pictured on January 23, 2021© Reuters

In the grand finale to Serie A's 24th round on Sunday evening, Franck Kessie's characteristically precise penalty and an unstoppable Ante Rebic strike secured a 2-1 win over Roma at Stadio Olimpico - making Milan the first team to defeat the Giallorossi at home this season.

It was a much-needed tonic for Stefano Pioli's men, who had seen a potentially historic record-breaking run threatening to turn sour in recent weeks - particularly after a 3-0 thumping in the Derby della Madonnina against chief title rivals Inter, who are now four points clear at the top.

Though his contribution to the outcome in Rome was ultimately minimal, Milan's star forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic suffered another thigh injury - which caused him to come off, to be replaced by Rafael Leao - and could now miss four important games, as his teammates push for glory at home and abroad.

After the midweek visit of Udinese, the Rossoneri will face Verona and Napoli, as well Ibra's former club Manchester United in the last-16 of the Europa League. As his side's top scorer with 14 goals despite several absences already this season, the prolific target man will be sorely missed, but Milan do have a healthy stock of talented forwards ready to step up to the plate.

Pioli's team have, though, already lost four Serie A games in 2021 - two more than in the entirety of last year. So even without their totemic talisman's unmistakable presence on Wednesday, they will seek to get their quest for a first Scudetto in a decade back on track with a second straight win - before relentless Inter disappear into the distance.

Rodrigo De Paul in action for Juventus on January 3, 2021© Reuters

While Milan's MVP may be missing this week, Udinese's irreplaceable captain Rodrigo De Paul comes into the game having added another assist to his name on Sunday - his second in a row - finding Ilija Nestorovski late on against Fiorentina to head home the only goal of the game.

Also the club's top scorer, with just five goals, the Liverpool-linked playmaker has been instrumental in lifting his side away from the Serie A drop zone in recent weeks, as Udinese have won two and draw one of their previous four games to sit a comfortable 12th in the table ahead of the trip to San Siro.

That recent upturn in form has seen the Bianconeri accumulate more than a third of their entire points tally in 2020-21 from their last six league matches. Though coach Luca Gotti has tried any number of forward options, goals have remained relatively hard to come by for his underpowered strikeforce, but a greater defensive resilience has significantly helped.

When they last met Milan, the Zebrette were enduring a rough run of form in the autumn, as De Paul scored the Friulani's lone goal from the penalty spot in a 2-1 defeat at the Dacia Arena.

This time around though, while still major underdogs, their prospects have improved and the Rossoneri have begun to demonstrate that they are not invincible after all.

AC Milan Serie A form: LWWLLW
AC Milan form (all competitions): WLDLDW

Udinese Serie A form: DWWLDW


Team News

Hakan Calhanoglu celebrates scoring for Milan on September 24, 2020© Reuters

In addition to the early removal of Zlatan Ibrahimovic from the Milan attack last time out, both Hakan Calhanoglu and Ante Rebic came off with muscular problems and will be assessed before the visit of Udinese. With the short turnaround in fixtures not helping their hopes of involvement, only Rebic could possibly be involved on Wednesday.

Given continuing doubts over the fitness of January signing Mario Mandzukic, young Rafael Leao is expected to be deployed from the start - offering a very different interpretation of the centre-forward's role to Ibrahimovic - while Brahim Diaz is favourite to deputise for Calhanoglu in Stefano Pioli's customary 4-2-3-1.

Due to Ismael Bennacer's ongoing absence through injury, Sandro Tonali should continue alongside midfield mainstay Franck Kessie in the engine room. Meanwhile, Fikayo Tomori surprisingly started ahead of skipper Alessio Romagnoli at the weekend and could be preferred to either the ex-Roma man or even Simon Kjaer in the centre of the Milan back four, ahead of an intense fixture schedule in the coming days.

Udinese have versatile Argentinian midfielder Roberto Pereyra - one of their key creative outlets, with two goals and four assists in an injury-interrupted campaign - back from suspension and he could come straight back into the team. Any one of Jean-Victor Makengo, matchwinner Ilija Nestorovski or misfiring striker Fernando Llorente - if Pereyra returns to a more advanced role - would drop out.

Longer-term absentees Mato Jajalo and Ignacio Pussetto are joined by Fernando Forestieri, Gerard Deulofeu and Thomas Ouwejan on Luca Gotti's injury list, but the Zebrette coach is likely to retain a relatively settled side otherwise.

AC Milan possible starting lineup:
Donnarumma; Calabria, Tomori, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Tonali, Kessie; Saelemaekers, Diaz, Rebic; Leao

Udinese possible starting lineup:
Musso; Bonifazi, Nuytinck, Samir; Larsen, De Paul, Walace, Arslan, Zeegelaar; Pereyra; Llorente


SM words green background

We say: AC Milan 2-0 Udinese

Expect a regulation win for Stefano Pioli's Scudetto-seekers on Wednesday, as the weekend's impressive success in Rome re-established their credentials as contenders for the title after a major wobble.

In addition to their lack of a consistent goal threat, Udinese do not tend to travel well and are not best placed to take advantage of Milan's returning injury woes.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data


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Fikayo Tomori pictured in AC Milan gear on January 23, 2021
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Inter Milan31236270284275
2AC Milan31206559362366
3Atalanta BCAtalanta31197572383464
4Juventus31188561283362
5Napoli31193966353160
6Lazio30184851411058
7Roma3116695547854
8SassuoloSassuolo31121095249346
9Hellas VeronaHellas Verona31118123938141
10Sampdoria31116144246-439
11Bologna31107144347-437
12Udinese3199133441-736
13Genoa31711133346-1332
14SpeziaSpezia3188154159-1832
15Fiorentina3179153952-1330
16BeneventoBenevento3179153360-2730
17Torino30612124553-830
18CagliariCagliari3167183554-1925
19Parma31311173263-3120
20Crotone3143243879-4115

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