24 January 2023


Last appointment of the first half of the season: all you need to know about the match at the Olimpico

AC Milan's first half of the season comes to an end at the Olimpico in Rome, as the Rossoneri face Maurizio Sarri's Lazio. It's an important match and a chance to regain some morale and positivity in the group after recent outings, as well as for the table, with the Biancocelesti just four points behind Stefano Pioli's team. We build up to the game with our Match Preview.

Coach Pioli will have to do without Theo Hernández, who is unavailable due to muscle fatigue. But he will be able to count on two players who have recently come back into the fold: Ante Rebić, who featured in the Supercoppa final, and Rade Krunić, who will be available again for the match at the Olimpico. Sandro Tonali has served his suspension, and will be back in midfield in place of the suspended Ismaël Bennacer. In terms of formation, Díaz, De Ketelaere and Pobega will battle it out for a place: in the latter case the team could also line up in a 4-3-3.

"We have to face these moments of difficulty, it will be another test to overcome with unity and humility," Coach Pioli said in the press conference. "We need togetherness and the determination to react. They are having a great season and are improving. I expect a very attentive and concentrated team, in addition to the gameplan, continuity throughout the 90 minutes will also be important".

The Biancocelesti, fresh from their wins against Sassuolo and Bologna (in the Coppa Italia), will have Lazzari back on the right after a suspension. Undoubtedly significant is the absence in attack of Ciro Immobile, who was injured during the match in Reggio Emilia: to replace the Lazio captain Sarri should opt for Felipe Anderson as false nine in the trident, supplemented also by Pedro and Zaccagni. For the rest, many confirmations in the usual 4-3-3, starting with Romagnoli in the centre of defence with Casale and the midfield formed by Milinković-Savić, Cataldi and Luis Alberto.

"We must not be superficial, we're about to face the Italian champions," Maurizio Sarri said on the eve of the match. "They have always put us in difficulty, and we can't think we won't encounter obstacles, they will be more motivated than usual. We will see their best version, I think little of their bad recent form."

The match at the Olimpico has been entrusted to Apulian referee Marco Di Bello, a 41-year-old from Brindisi in his 146th Serie A game. It is his first fixture with AC Milan this season - his last was in Cagliari 0-1 AC Milan in March 2022 - and overall his record with the Rossoneri speaks of ten wins, two draws and two defeats, which came in his first two career appearances. Assisting Di Bello will be linesmen Tolfo and Galetto, fourth official Abisso and VAR Aureliano, assisted by Paganessi.

Lazio v AC Milan will close out matchday 19 in Serie A, the last of the first half of the season. The fixtures started on Saturday 21 January with Verona 2-0 Lecce, Salernitana 0-2 Napoli and Fiorentina 0-1 Torino. Sunday 22 saw Sampdoria 0-1 Udinese, Monza 1-1 Sassuolo, Spezia 0-2 Roma and Juventus 3-3 Atalanta. Bologna 1-1 Cremonese and Inter 0-1 Empoli, on the other hand, were the matches played on Monday 23rd.

Here are the current Serie A standings: Napoli 50 pts; AC Milan* 38; Inter e Roma 37; Atalanta 35; Lazio* 34; Udinese 28; Torino 26; Empoli 25; Juventus, Fiorentina, Bologna 23; Monza 22; Lecce 20; Spezia, Salernitana 18; Sassuolo 17; Hellas Verona 12; Sampdoria 9; Cremonese 8. (* one game less)

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