AC Milan's Serie A Challenge Hindered by Injuries
AC Milan faces the opportunity to claim the top spot in Serie A as they prepare to host Lazio on Saturday. However, Coach Stefano Pioli must navigate a selection dilemma due to a string of injuries and their impending Champions League match against Borussia Dortmund.
Milan recently leveled the playing field with leaders Inter, both accumulating 15 points, following Milan's 3-1 victory over Cagliari. Simultaneously, Inter suffered a 2-1 defeat to Sassuolo. Milan's rigorous schedule, compounded by an already depleted squad, is stretching their resources thin.
Forwards Rafael Leao and Olivier Giroud, who were on the bench against Cagliari, may be called upon, and goalkeeper Mike Maignan is nearing a return after dealing with a thigh issue. However, injuries to Pierre Kalulu, Luka Jovic, and Rade Krunic pose concerns, although Ismael Bennacer and Mattia Caldara are anticipated to return before the new year.
Despite worries about squad depth potentially hampering their season, especially with the Champions League fixture against Dortmund approaching, Coach Pioli dismissed these concerns. He stated, "I don’t have a lot of players, and I prefer that, but I have a few ready to play. Maybe you can pay for that in the short term, but in the long term, we will benefit with more motivated players and fewer injuries."
Lazio, despite finishing higher than Milan in the previous season's table, has struggled at the start of the new campaign, recording only two wins in their first six matches, placing them in 11th place.
Meanwhile, Inter seeks to rebound from their surprising loss to Sassuolo as they travel to face Salernitana on Saturday. Coach Simone Inzaghi may opt to rest several players in preparation for their Champions League clash against Benfica. Key players like Stefano Sensi and Juan Cuadrado remain sidelined, alongside Marko Arnautovic, and their return is not imminent.
On Sunday, Atalanta will host Juventus, with Gian Piero Gasperini's side gaining momentum after two consecutive wins. However, they face a challenging European encounter against Sporting in the Europa League the following week. In contrast, Juventus can concentrate on Manager Massimiliano Allegri's goal of securing a top-four finish this season.
Champions Napoli, following a lackluster start to the season, showed signs of resurgence with a convincing 4-1 victory against Udinese. Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia were among the scorers. Napoli faces Lecce away on Saturday, a team that has surprised many with three wins in their first six matches, securing a sixth-place position in the league standings.