Thursday, May 23, 2024

Prediction: AC Milan vs Cagliari

Verdict: Olivier Giroud to score

Best odds: 11/10

Bookmaker: Betfair

AC Milan will strive to break their six-game winless streak on Saturday evening as they host relegation-threatened Cagliari at San Siro.

While Milan’s position as runners-up in Serie A is still pending confirmation, their opponents from Sardinia have only three matches remaining to secure their survival in the top flight.

AC Milan

After their European exit at the hands of Roma and a devastating sixth consecutive derby loss, which ultimately handed the Scudetto to their city rivals, Milan’s disappointing end to the season has continued to unfold in the past two weeks.

Following a goalless draw against third-placed Juventus, the Rossoneri twice fought back from behind to take a 3-2 lead against Genoa last weekend, extending their streak of scoring in 12 successive Serie A home games. However, despite goals from Matteo Gabbia and Olivier Giroud putting them ahead at San Siro, a late own-goal from Malick Thiaw meant they had to settle for just one point.

The outcome did little to silence critics of coach Stefano Pioli, whose tenure appears to be nearing its end this summer, just two years after defying expectations to clinch the title ahead of Inter.

Enduring their worst winless streak in the Serie A in over a year, Milan still face the risk of being caught by Juventus, who trail by five points. However, aside from securing second place behind Inter, Pioli’s side has little else at stake.

With several defensive players sidelined, Milan have conceded five goals in their last two home games, matching their total from the previous 10 matches. Consequently, their primary focus this week will be on shoring up their defence.

Recent history offers encouragement though, as Milan have won seven of their last eight encounters against Cagliari, conceding only twice in the process.

Team News

Pioli’s options for Saturday have received a boost as Milan welcome back captain Davide Calabria, who has completed his two-match suspension following his red card against Inter. Additionally, Yunus Musah returns to action after serving a one-match ban.

However, Milan will be without goalkeeper Mike Maignan, as well as midfielders Tommaso Pobega and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who are sidelined due to injury. Danish defender Simon Kjaer continues to struggle with a flexor problem.

Olivier Giroud, soon to depart for the MLS, gears up for his penultimate home game for the Rossoneri, aiming to conclude his successful tenure there in style. The French forward, who scored his first two Serie A goals against Cagliari in August 2021, has found the net twice in his last three matches at San Siro.

Cagliari

Highlighting the vast contrast between the two clubs, Cagliari’s last away victory over Milan dates back to June 1997, with the team enduring 17 defeats since then.

In their upcoming encounter at San Siro, the Rossoblu will be aiming to secure points to bolster their survival prospects. Currently, they sit just three points clear of the relegation zone and face the possibility of dropping straight back to the Serie B.

Under Claudio Ranieri’s guidance, Cagliari earned promotion through the second-tier play-offs last year. Despite initially struggling to adapt, they seemed to be on track for safety last month after defeating Europa League finalists Atalanta and securing draws against Inter and Juventus.

However, following a spirited climb up the standings, Cagliari have since garnered only one point from their last two fixtures: a 3-0 defeat to Genoa followed by a 1-1 draw against Lecce in their most recent outing. Yerry Mina’s goal, his second in three games, initially gave them the lead, but Gianluca Gaetano’s subsequent dismissal saw them unable to maintain their advantage and secure three crucial points.

With just one away victory all season, Cagliari enters the match against Milan as underdogs. Should other results not go their way in the multi-team relegation battle, they risk slipping into the bottom three with only two games remaining.

Team News

Cagliari will be without Tommaso Augello and Gianluca Gaetano due to suspension for this weekend’s match.

Nicolas Viola and Marco Mancosu remain sidelined through injury, but despite a calf problem, goalscoring center-back Yerry Mina is expected to tough it out.

Veteran striker Leonardo Pavoletti is now fit and available after recovering from a fractured foot. However, Ranieri is likely to choose his attacking duo from Gianluca Lapadula, Zito Luvumbo, and Eldor Shomurodov.

Conclusion

Milan have struggled lately, but Cagliari aren’t doing too well away from home. The Rossoneri should be able to record their first triumph for over a year, likely with Giroud on the scoresheet.

Verdict: Olivier Giroud to score

Best odds: 11/10

Bookmaker: Betfair

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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