Serie A returns to action on Wednesday after an eight-week hiatus as defending champions Milan make the journey south to take on mid-table Salernitana.
The World Cup break could not have come at a more opportune time for the Granata, as they were on a three-match winless league streak (D1, L2), losing twice in a row by an aggregate score of 5-1.
Despite Salernitana’s abysmal form in November, they’re still safe in mid-table comforts, a whopping ten points clear of 18th-placed Cremonese, but there’s no room for complacency.
Head coach Davide Nicola had over a month to work on the training ground and properly assess his squad ahead of Milan’s visit to the Stadio Arechi.
The Rossoneri blew hot and cold across the final five league rounds ahead of the World Cup break, fluctuating between winning and not winning in that sequence (W3, D1, L1).
As a result, Stefano Pioli’s men have to play catch-up on pacesetters Napoli, with as many as eight points separating the sides ahead of the Serie A resumption.
But if Milan’s form during their warm-weather preparation in Dubai is a sign of things to come, visiting fans may have to brace themselves for plenty of suffering, with Pioli’s team losing all three mid-season friendlies.
Salernitana have been victorious in three of their last six Serie A home outings (D2, L1), as many triumphs as they had in their first 20 league games at the Stadio Arechi since returning to the top flight.
Though they have the odds firmly stacked against them here, the Granata must be brimming with confidence, safe in the knowledge their last home league loss to Milan dates back to 1998.
Indeed, they have gone unbeaten in two of their three previous home encounters against the Rossoneri in Serie A (W1, D1), including an action-packed 2-2 draw in this corresponding fixture last season.
Milan’s wayward mid-season form aside, they are winless on their last two Serie A travels (D1, L1), including an abysmal scoreless draw at relegation-battling Cremonese on their most recent road trip.
It’s been over three years since the Rossoneri last failed to win three consecutive top-flight away matches, but it’s not at all impossible that they could equal this unwanted feat on Wednesday.
Pioli’s men have won only two of their last four league showdowns against teams starting the round at least ten points below them in the Serie A standings (D1, L1).
Salernitana vs Milan Potential Lineups
Salernitana (3-5-2): Luigi Sepe; Flavius Daniliuc, Dylan Bronn, Lorenzo Pirola; Antonio Candreva, Giulio Maggiore, Ivan Radovanovic, Lassana Coulibaly, Domagoj Bradaric; Boulaye Dia, Federico Bonazzoli.
Milan (4-2-3-1): Ciprian Tatarusanu; Davide Calabria, Fikayo Tomori, Simon Kjaer, Theo Hernandez; Sandro Tonali, Ismael Bennacer; Rafael Leao, Brahim Diaz, Alexis Saelemaekers; Olivier Giroud.
Salernitana vs Milan Prediction
Both sides hope the new year will bring a change in fortunes, especially the visitors, as they cannot afford another slip-up if they’re to stay relevant in the Scudetto race.
Salernitana’s three-game unbeaten home league form (W2, D1) shows they’re no pushovers, yet we expect Milan to come out on top by a slim margin.
Prediction: Milan Win