stats28 August 2021

AC MILAN V CAGLIARI: DUELS

Up front and elsewhere, plenty of talking points ahead of tomorrow evening at San Siro

AC Milan v Cagliari is coming up soon and our first league game at home this season will see San Siro partially open to the public. This matchday 2 clash in Serie A is full of interesting duels all over the pitch. Here are the main talking points ahead of tomorrow evening's game:

OLIVIER GIROUD VS LEONARDO PAVOLETTI

These two are the strikers, the focal points, of their respective teams. Both started on matchday 1 but neither player got on the scoresheet, though both got through plenty of hard work in service of their teams. Giroud, who is on the verge of his first game at San Siro, has 35 touches, 25 passes, two shots blocked and 64% shot accuracy at Marassi. Pavoletti, meanwhile, level with teammate João Pedro, had ten touches in the opposition penalty area, fewer only than Immobile (13) and Zaccagni (11). Strong in the air, good with their backs to goal, this game could be decided by one of these two men.

THEO HERNÁNDEZ VS NAHITAN NÁNDEZ

They set the ground alight as they run, Hernández down the left and Nández down the right. They will face off on the same flank, and will encounter one another often during the match. They also share some above-average physical traits and are gifted and adventurous on the front foot. These two widemen could make a telling contribution in phases of possession and transition. Theo, after a game of highs and lows at the Ferraris, will play in a back four, Nahitan in a back five. They both have an eye for the big contribution: eight goals and eight assists for the Frenchman and two and three for the Uruguayan in 2020/21.

BRAHIM DÍAZ VS JOÃO PEDRO

Power to the number 10's. On the one hand, we have the young Díaz, on the other, we have the veteran João Pedro. They will both have the freedom to drift in the spaces, to create and to be incisive. Irrespective of the scales, these two are clever and gifted players even if they are virtually opposites in terms of physicality. Against Sampdoria, Brahim made the difference with the decisive goal and ran for 284 metres with the ball at his feet, more than almost every other player in the league on matchday 1. Díaz is also the only player with at least five goals since the start of last season not to have scored at home. João Pedro scored a brace (one penalty) on his debut and was the player with the most shots (9) and the most shots on target (8) on matchday 1; the Brazilian hasn't scored in any of his Serie A matches against AC Milan.  

ISMAËL BENNACER VS KEVIN STROOTMAN

They have the answers in midfield, they're the motors for the Rossoneri and Rossoblù. These two are brilliant in the build-up, in reading the game and dictating the tempo of the match. Bennacer is back to full fitness and is close to returning to the starting XI after coming off the bench for a 20-minute cameo against Samp. He, in fact, made his Serie A debut (August 2018) against Cagliari while he was an Empoli player. Strootman, however, had more touches (96), recoveries (12) and interceptions (4) than any other Cagliari player last weekend. AC Milan are one of two teams (alongside Parma), against whom he has both scored and provided an assist in a single Serie A match (AC Milan 2-2 Roma in December 2013).  


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