serie-a29 August 2021

AC MILAN V CAGLIARI: MATCH PREVIEW

The Rossoneri return to San Siro: all you need to know on matchday 2

It's been a week of homecomings. First, we had the Champions League group stage draw, which revealed the Rossoneri's opponents upon their return to the top European competition after seven years away. Then, we have the first league match at San Siro of the season, this time with fans back in the stands after so many months apart. The "Back Home" week for AC Milan concludes against Leonardo Semplici's Cagliari, the side that the Rossoneri hosted in their last home game of last season. The match brings the curtain down on Serie A matchday 2. Let's get ready for the game with our Match Preview.

UPDATE FROM MILANELLO
The Rossoneri's squad is virtually unchanged from the away win over Sampdoria on matchday 1. During his press conference on Saturday, Stefano Pioli confirmed that Pietro Pellegri would not be named in the squad for Cagliari. The attacker, who has just arrived from Monaco, will have a week's rest, as will Zlatan Ibrahimović and Franck Kessie. Ismaël Bennacer has made a full recovery.

"We've been thinking about this game all week. Our aim is to get off to a good start at home," said Stefano Pioli. "We're going into this one following a difficult but deserved win. Tomorrow, we'll be facing a really well-organised team; they are a tough team to face. We've always felt the presence of our fans and I think this was reciprocated on our part. It'll be really emotional to have them back in the stadium tomorrow. We'll only feel positive effects from their return; we want to draw as much energy from them as possible." 

The energy will be essential if the Rossoneri are to continue their unbeaten run, which has seen AC Milan go six games without conceding. This is one the best runs in Rossoneri and began with the final five games of last season and was extended with the 1-0 at the Ferraris last Monday.

UPDATE ON CAGLIARI
The Sardinian side have nobody suspended or cautioned for the match, but Alessi Cragno is out injured and Serbian keeper Radunović will replace him between the sticks. The Tuscan shot-stopper joins an injury list that already included defenders Faragò and Pinna and midfielders Ladinetti and Rog.

The Rossoblù haven't made too many additions to the squad that performed admirably in the girone di ritorno to avoid relegation last season. Leonardo Semplici remains in charge while Dutchman Kevin Strootman and Brazilian Dalbert were the marquee arrivals of the summer transfer window. In the last few hours, Giovanni Simeone has moved to Verona on loan. So the line will likely be led by Brazilian João Pedro, who has scored 34 goals in his last two seasons and bagged a brace on matchday 1 against Spezia. The presence of Romanian Marin in midfield and the Uruguayan pairing of Godín and Nández in defence could prove pivotal for the Sardinian outfit.

"We want a repeat performance of last year," said João Pedro on the eve of the match at San Siro. "We had prepared well for it, independent of the result against Benevento (which saw Cagliari confirm their top-flight status ahead of the game against the Rossoneri). We have our quality and can go toe-to-toe with anybody, even if it won't be easy against strong opposition like AC Milan. We'll miss Cragno - he's a real leader for us - but we're in good hands with Radunović."  

PRE-MATCH
The last meeting between the Rossoneri and Rossoblù - 0-0 on 16 May - set up a virtual playoff for Champions League football against Atalanta in Bergamo seven days later. The last time Pioli's side beat Cagliari was the 2-0 victory (Zlatan Ibrahimović brace) on 18 January. The head-to-head record between the two is dominated by the Rossoneri; Cagliari have only beaten AC Milan once in the last 35 Serie A matches between the two (May 2017). 

There are no returning ex-players in this fixture, though various players have been at the same club at various points in their careers. Alessandro Florenzi and Kevin Strootman played together for five seasons at Roma, while Theo Hernández and Diego Godín played together at Atlético de Madrid as the Rossoneri full-back made his first few first-team appearances. Two more old friends are Pietro Pellegri and Leonardo Pavoletti, who were both on the books at Genoa at the same time. Going back to previous meetings between AC Milan and Cagliari, we made mention in recent days of the goal fest on 22 November 2009. 

UPDATE FROM CASA MILAN
The match between AC Milan and Cagliari will be broadcast in Italy exclusively by DAZN. On the Rossoneri's channels, meanwhile, you can catch the usual Matchday programming on Milan TV - Sky Italia channel 203, DAZN or on Amazon Prime Video Channels, €3.99 per month with a 15-day free trial. Live coverage will start from 19:30 CEST and will go on until kick-off. After the game, we'll have interviews and Stefano Pioli's post-match press conference.

From 19:45 CEST, we have a special segment for you on AC Milan's Twitch channel: Live Reaction with Francesco Specchia, Lollo and Garrincha. We will also have two special guests in Q-Lash team member Roberto "Mogra" Mogranzini and actor Andrea Montovoli; fans will also have the chance to get involved in this coverage, both from home and from San Siro. Don't miss our live feed on Twitter either, or post-match coverage on acmilan.com and the AC Milan Official App.

UPDATE ON SERIE A
Marco Serra will referee AC Milan v Cagliari. This will be his seventh match in Serie A; one of the other six was, in fact, between AC Milan and Cagliari (3-0 on 1 August 2020). He also refereed AC Milan 3-0 Spezia on 4 October 2020. Assisting Serra will be linesmen Di Vuolo and Zingarelli. Massimi will be the Fourth Official, while VAR duties will be performed by Guida, with Lo Cicero as his assistant. 

Serie A matchday 2 began on Friday evening with Udinese 3-0 at 1830 CEST and Verona 1-3 Inter at 20:45 CEST. Four matches were played yesterday: Lazio 6-1 Spezia and Atalanta 0-0 Bologna at 18:30 CEST, Fiorentina 2-0 Torino and Juventus 0-1 Empoli at 18:30 CEST. There are three other matches on today: Genoa v Napoli and Sassuolo v Sampdoria at 18:30 CEST, and Salernitana v Roma at 20:45 CEST.

The current Serie A standings: Lazio, Inter 6; Udinese, Bologna, Atalanta 4; Roma*, Napoli*, Sassuolo*, Milan*, Fiorentina, Empoli 3; Cagliari*, Juventus, Spezia 1; Salernitana*, Sampdoria*, Genoa*, Torino, Verona, Venezia 0. (* = game in hand)


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