After failing to win each of their last two games in all competitions, Scudetto holders Milan will look to conclude their first half of the season in a positive fashion when they face 11th-placed Lecce today at the Stadio Comunale Via del Mare.
Following their late collapse to Roma, Milan could not brush off their blues as they bowed out of the Coppa Italia on Thursday after Michael Ndary Adopo’s strike stood the difference as 10-man Torino defeated the Rossoneri. The Torino match could be seen as a replica of Milan’s draw with the Giallorossi as manager Stefano Pioli, again, could not influence his players to retain their composure till the final whistle and as a result, they conceded a 114-minute goal.
Milan automatically went up the table to second place after Juventus’ humiliating defeat to Napoli on Friday evening. Pioli’s men have a chance against Lecce to cut the gap with the Partenopei to 7 points and possibly set up a dramatic title defence late in the season.
Meanwhile, Lecce came away with a point in their last league fixture with Spezia which ended goallessly. The stalemate stretched the Salentini’s unbeaten run to five games in a row which they will look to continue by grinding out at least a point versus Milan.
It will be an uphill task for manager Marco Baroni’s men as they haven’t found much success in their recent clashes with the Rossoneri. Milan have scored 20 goals against them in their last eight Serie A meetings while staying unbeaten — it would be a miracle if Lecce could come away with a clean sheet.
Lecce will definitely stress on letting Pioli’s men enjoy possession and pouncing on an opportunity as they know that the visitors have lacked poise in certain nervy situations.
Results from their last five matches in all competitions:
D W W W W
L D W W W
Lecce will have their captain Morten Hjulmand return from suspension for this match.
Marco Baroni will trust loanee Lorenzo Colombo to lead the attacking front as he has recorded four goals and two assists till now in the season.
As for Milan, midfielder Sandro Tonali is out of this fixture with a suspension. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Rade Krunic, Ante Rebic and first-choice goalkeeper Mike Maignan all remain unavailable.
Divock Origi and Simon Kjaer have returned to training and may be in contention to feature in the match. Stefano Pioli is expected to start Olivier Giroud in the front following Charles de Ketelaere’s lacklustre form in attack.
Lecce (4-3-3): Falcone; Gendrey, Baschirotto, Umtiti, Gallo; Blin, Hjulmand, Gonzalez; Strefezza, Colombo, Di Francesco
Milan (4-3-2-1): Tatarusanu; Calabria, Tomori, Kalulu, Hernandez; Bennacer, Pobega; Saelemaekers, Diaz, Leao; Giroud
Trambak Bhattacherjee | GIFN