AC Milan will take on Cagliari in the Sardegna Arena and will look to impress after their last victory. Milan were disappointing in their blown lead versus Napoli but performed admirably in their 2-1 win over Roma. Cagliari, on the other hand, have one point after two matches and will be looking for their first triumph of the season.
Cagliari Play Host to AC Milan
Manager Gennaro Gattuso has been testing out formations and players, including new acquisitions Mattia Caldara and Diego Laxalt. Although this is the case, they’re unlikely to start in Cagliari. Caldara started alongside captain Alessio Romagnoli for Italy but is still going through a transition process at Milan. Caldara is currently best suited for a three-man defensive line, the same implemented by Atalanta. Gattuso prefers a four-man line and, although Caldara is talented, Matteo Musacchio is still primed to start.
After the Napoli match, Milan fans were ready to see more of Laxalt. Ricardo Rodriguez, however, silenced his doubters with an admirable outing against Roma. His defending was strong, but Rodriguez thrives in what he offers offensively. Laxalt is an ideal high-energy versatile player off the bench, so he will likely hold onto that role.
Milan will also continue with their midfield trio of Lucas Biglia, Giacomo Bonaventura and Franck Kessie. Bonaventura’s and Kessie’s position in the lineup were never under question, but like Rodriguez, Biglia put in a man-of-the-match worthy performance against Roma.
Hakan Calhanoglu and Suso will start on the wings, while target man Gonzalo Higuain will feature as a lone striker. Higuain has yet to find the back of the net in two matches, but he offers so much more than that. A player of his quality immediately becomes the focal point of an attack, creating holes for other players as defences will likely stay glued to him.
A troubling sign for Milan versus Cagliari is Patrick Cutrone’s availability. The youngster won the match versus Roma with his last-minute goal but limped off injured in play with Italy’s U21 team. He is dealing with minor complications to his ankle, leaving his status as uncertain, according to Sky Italia. The injury doesn’t seem to be serious, but Gattuso does not want to risk Cutrone’s health in a match that Milan are expected to win comfortably.
Style of Play
Gattuso has clearly developed his brand of football that he wants to see from his players. He wants attacks to build from the back, with several players recording touches until a strike. Milan did this versus Roma and the results paid off. They completed 540 passes st a team at a completion rate of 89%. Furthermore, the team was able to get 26 shots off, with ten being on target. Play in the final third must be more clinical, but Gattuso looks to be on the right path.
When Cagliari have the ball, Gattuso’s men will be quick to press. Milan will look to dominate possession, so will attempt to quickly reclaim the ball. A great example of Gattuso’s press was Kessie rushing to Steven N’Zonzi, leading to a Calabria interception which led to Cutrone’s match-winner against Roma.
Higuain will finally find the back of the net in this match. He was dominant against Roma and even recorded a goal that was questionably called back for offside. Look for him to take advantage of Cagliari’s sub-par defence.
The last few years have seen Milan become prone to mistakes when holding the lead, so there’s reason to believe they might concede. Overall, they should have a strong performance and come out on top.
AC Milan 3-1 Cagliari