Serie A Round 14: Milan – Lazio Preview and Expected Lineups

The final Serie A matchday of 2020 offers all the Italian football fans one of the most intriguing matches in the last few weeks. In Round 14, the league leaders Milan will be seeking to finish the year top of the league by beating Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio at the Stadio San Siro.

Both teams come into this game after displaying winning performances last Sunday. Milan further extended their unbeaten run by defeating this season’s Serie A sensation Sassuolo, while Lazio made a major statement of intent with a 2-0 win over Napoli.

The Cult of Calcio is here to preview the main match of Round 14, with an eye on the expected lineups of both clubs.

Milan – Lazio

Serie A Round 14
Wednesday, 23 December 2020
Kick-off at 20:45 (CET)
Stadio San Siro (Milan)

Recent Form – Milan

There are no words to describe what Milan fans should be feeling right now after another winning performance against Sassuolo on Sunday. A narrow 2-1 win means that the Rossoneri have extended their dominance at the top of the Serie A standings for the 10th consecutive match-day. Stefano Pioli’s men remain one point clear of their nearest rivals Inter who did not slip up and secured three important points against Spezia.

The game against Sassuolo was the perfect example of how the champions are made. Milan were second best for big parts of 90 minutes in terms of the key performance metrics but managed to come away with all three points regardless of modest display. To start with, the Rossoneri enjoyed only 32% possession and had 11 attempts at goal (5 on target) compared to Sassuolo’s 15 (5 on target). Nevertheless, all of that turned out to be insignificant, as Milan were absolutely ruthless in front of Sassuolo’s goal. Pioli’s men created only 2 big scoring chances throughout the whole match, valued at 0.27 xG (expected goals) and 0.46 xG, but converted both of them.

In contrast, despite having 68% possession, Sassuolo managed to create only one big scoring chance, evaluated at 0.46 xG, which was missed by Hamed Junior Traore. All in all, Milan finished the game with an xG of 1.25 in comparison with Sassuolo’s 1.10.

Milan remain one of the slightly overperforming teams; however, as long as the Rossoneri keep on collecting points nobody can really blame them. Pioli’s men are ranked 2nd for the most goals scored in the league (29 scored), but their npxG (non-penalty expected goals) is only 22.8. It means that Milan have scored 6 goals more than they should have based on the quality of chances created. Five of those goals were penalties, which is a result of 8 attempted spot-kicks in total, three of which were missed. Overall, according to xPTS (expected points) metric, Milan have accumulated 4 points too many thus far this season.

Team News and Predicted Lineups – Milan

On Wednesday night, Pioli will likely have to do without his two main strikers in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ante Rebic. The former has sustained an unexpected injury set-back, while in training, and is expected to be sidelined for the upcoming 20 days. The latter has a foot problem and will only make the bench if deemed fit to play on Wednesday.

Rafael Leao scored in the first minute of the game against Sassuolo and will be expected to carry his good form into Wednesday’s clash.

Expected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Calabria, Kalulu, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Tonali, Krunic; Saelemaekers, Calhanoglu, Brahim Diaz; Rafael Leao

Unavailable: Ibrahimovic (calf injury), Bennacer (thigh injury), Gabbia (knee injury), Kjaer (to be assessed), Rebic (to be assessed), Kessié (one-match banned)

Recent Form – Lazio

After two disappointing performances against Benevento and Verona, when Lazio managed to collect only one point, the Biancocelesti got back into winning ways with a statement performance against Napoli. A 2-0 win allowed Lazio to climb into 8th position in the league standings with 21 points, only 3 behind the Champions League spot. It was only their 2nd win in the last 5 matches, following two disappointing results a week ago.

Three massive points against Napoli masked what has been a fairly mediocre season so far for Lazio. Nonetheless, even such a statement victory cannot hide the fact that Lazio are not at their best right now, and the key statistical metrics of the game show that is the case. During the 90 minutes, Lazio enjoyed 39% of possession and had 10 attempts at the opposing goal but only twice managed to hit the target. Additionally, the Biancocelesti created only one big scoring chance throughout the whole match, evaluated at 0.26 xG, which they missed as well. Even though Napoli were even worse as they did not create a single big chance in the entire game, this shows why Lazio have been struggling to win matches recently. Overall, they finished the game with an xG of 0.81 compared to Napoli’s 0.75.

Lazio’s poor results are perfectly reflected by their xG (expected goals) metrics. In 3 of the last 4 matches, Lazio finished the game with an xG value lower than 1.0 goal. The Biancocelesti are only 10th for the most goals scored in the Serie A, averaging 1.54 goals per game. What is even more concerning is their npxG (non-penalty expected goals) form. Inzaghi’s men have recorded only 14.5 npxG so far this season (13th in the league), indicating that they do not create enough high-quality goal-scoring opportunities. Interestingly, Lazio have rather high goals per shot on target ratio of 0.36 (7th in the league), meaning that when they do hit the target, their shots have a higher probability to turn into a goal. It implies that Lazio should be making more attempts at the opposition’s goal (avg. 11.7 shots per game – 10th result) which could potentially increase their xG score.

Team News and Predicted Lineups – Lazio

On Wednesday, Inzaghi will have to manage the game without a couple of key players. Francesco Acerbi, Joaquin Correa and Lucas Leiva are all likely to miss out on Wednesday’s trip to Milan, with Wesley Hoedt, Gonzalo Escalante and Felipe Caicedo keeping their places in the starting lineup.

Ciro Immobile will be looking to score his ninth goal of the Serie A season, having scored five in the last six matches.

Expected Starting XI (3-5-2): Reina; Luiz Felipe, Hoedt, Radu; Lazzari, Milinkovic-Savic, Escalante, Luis Alberto, Marusic; Caicedo, Immobile

Unavailable: Lucas Leiva (muscle injury), Fares (muscle injury), Lulic (physical discomfort), Proto (arm injury), Acerbi (to be assessed), Correa (to be assessed)

Milan vs Lazio – Previous Meetings

On Wednesday night, the teams will go head-to-head for the 172ndtime in their history. Over the years, Milan have been far more successful of the two, with 72 wins (42.1% win ratio) to their name. In contrast, Lazio have beaten Milan on 36 occasions (21.1% win ratio), with 63 matches ending in a draw.

In the most recent meeting between the two sides back in July, Milan thrashed their Wednesday opponents 3-0 thanks to the goals from Calhanoglu, Ibrahimovic and Rebic.


Milan’s winning run will have to come to an end eventually, but will it happen this Wednesday? Both teams seem more comfortable at soaking up the pressure and letting others dictate the play, which could prove to be an interesting spectacle. Lazio have not been at their best in the most recent weeks, but a victory against Napoli sent out a warning signal to the rest of the top four contenders. In contrast, Milan will be motivated to extend their unbeaten run up to 14 matches, which can result in a cautious display by Pioli’s men.