After a solid victory against Shamrock Rovers in the Europa League last Thursday, AC Milan will open the 2020/21 Serie A season at the San Siro when they host Bologna. Looking to pick up from where they left off last campaign, anything but a win will be a disappointment for the Rossoneri.
AC Milan Must Get off to Fast Start in Serie A
The two sides have played 22 matches head-to-head in their history, and Milan have won 15 of those. Bologna have won just two, meaning the sides have drawn five times. Milan clearly have the advantage here and will look to do more of the same.
The last time the two sides met was just a couple of months ago in July. This match, of course, was played in the summer due to the COVID-19 postponement. The Rossoneri were victorious in a 5-1 thrashing. This game saw five different Milan players score goals. Four of those five are expected to start this match. The only one who isn’t, Alexis Saelemaekers, is still in the squad and should be expected to come on as a substitute. Nine out of the 11 who started for Milan are expected to remain the same as well. Saelemaekers is one exception, and the other is Alessio Romagnoli due to injury.
Another interesting aspect of this match is that Bologna’s manager, Siniša Mihajlović, is a former Milan manager. Although he lasted less than a full calendar year at the club, he is largely credited for starting the professional career of goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
AC Milan Predicted Line-Up
Donnarumma will start as the goalkeeper for Milan. This will be the one constant that will never change.
The four in defence are likely to be Theo Hernandez, Simon Kjaer, Matteo Gabbia and Davide Calabria. Hernandez has been a revelation for Milan since his signing – arguably the club’s best left-back since the Paolo Maldini days. Kjaer is a great veteran option at centre-back. The club’s issues will be around Gabbia and Calabria. Romagnoli’s injury, alongside Matteo Musacchio‘s, has caused extended time for Gabbia. He hasn’t been bad by any means in his appearances but, of course, he still lacks experience. Calabria has been in good form since the end of last season but has a tendency to be inconsistent.
Manager Stefano Pioli’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation calls for just two central midfielders. These two will be Ismael Bennacer and Franck Kessie. The pairing shined last season after the COVID-19 postponement and looked in top shape and form once again against Shamrock Rovers last Thursday. Expect the two to be pivotal once again. Sandro Tonali, Milan’s big signing of the transfer market, may very well see time off the bench as well.
The attack will consist of Ante Rebic on the left, Hakan Calhanoglu in the middle, Samu Castillejo on the right and Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the striker.
Rebic was terrific down the stretch last season but missed the Europa League match due to suspension. Calhanoglu, on the other hand, performed admirably in that game. The Turkish international will look to continue his hot form. He’s been performing at a world-class level over the past few months. Castillejo is the sole shadow of doubt upfront. More times than not he’s mostly uninspiring. He brings pace and skill, but not enough to truly impact a game. Expect Real Madrid loanee Brahim Diaz to check into the game for Castillejo at some point.
All eyes will be on Ibrahimovic, as per usual. The 38-year-old Swede is still dominant and opened his scoring for the season in the first 25 minutes of the game against Shamrock. Back-up Rafael Leão will be missing from this game, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for a substitute appearance from youngster Lorenzo Colombo.
Prediction: AC Milan 2-0 Bologna
If last Thursday’s game was any indication, the Rossoneri are still in form from last season. Expect Ibrahimovic to score the opening goal as he will be hungry to start out the season in the best way possible. Rebic will score the other, as he too will be looking to continue his hot form versus a vulnerable defence.
Gabbia will be good enough as a partner to Kjaer, especially with Donnarumma in goal, to keep a clean sheet for Milan.