stats24 September 2021

SPEZIA V AC MILAN: DUELS

The left flank and more: we preview the best battles to keep an eye on in the showdown at the Picco

The calendar doesn’t give any moment to rest, and less than 72 hours after the win over Venezia at the home of the Rossoneri, a meeting with Thiago Motta's Spezia lies in wait. A fixture that last year represented a setback for AC Milan, who are therefore looking for revenge to stay in the upper reaches of the table. The showdown at the Picco, scheduled for Saturday 25 September at 15:00 CEST, will also put some potential individual duels on show for us out on the pitch:

JEROEN ZOET V MIKE MAIGNAN
Two highly experienced goalkeepers who are used to a high level of involvement in their respective teams’ build-up play: The duel between the two number ones is undoubtedly one of the most interesting on show at the Picco. The Dutchman, formerly of PSV, is also the only goalkeeper in Serie A to have saved a penalty so far this season, and if we also take European competition into consideration, the Frenchman is the only one to join the list. In a match between two teams that favour building out from the back, Zoet and Maignan's passing skills could make the difference. The Spezia shot-stopper has conceded 13 goals and saved 62% of the shots he's faced, compared with two and 88% for Mike.

GIULIO MAGGIORE V SANDRO TONALI
Two young midfielders, both key figures for their teams at the start of this: the Spezia captain racked up two assists against Venezia and Juventus, while the Rossoneri No.8 scored a splendid goal against Cagliari to add to a series of excellent performances. Maggiore, who bagged his first goal in Serie A against AC Milan in February, will face off against a high-level opponent like Tonali, in a duel that could also be seen tomorrow as a battle for a place in the national team.

EMMANUEL GYASI V RAFAEL LEÃO
The first of two duels that focus on the respective left flanks. In this case, the focus is purely on the offensive side of the game: both the Ghanaian with Palermo origins and the Portuguese man have put in some excellent performances in this beginning period of the season, establishing themselves firmly in the starting elevens of Spezia and AC Milan. Five matches out of five played, and two goals scored by each player, with Gyasi being amongst the players with the most minutes in the entire championship.

SIMONE BASTONI V THEO HERNÁNDEZ
The other left-sided battle is that between two full-backs with a strong attacking mindset: the Italian has scored two goals in the first five matchdays (he also netted against the Rossoneri last year) and has produced the most crosses out of any Spezia player so far (18). The Frenchman, meanwhile, put in a great performance to unlock the game on Wednesday against Venezia. He bagged the first of his seven Serie A goals in 2020/21 against Spezia last year. Theo is the Rossoneri player who has been on the end of most fouls up to this point: ten, to be precise. A duel that one can easily imagine will be characterised by high attacking pace, from two players that are used to pushing hard.

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