Spezia vs Milan Preview and Expected Lineups – Serie A Round 6

Saturday’s Serie A action gets underway at the Stadio Alberto Picco as out-of-sorts Spezia play host to high-flying Milan. While the hosts sit just one point clear of the drop zone, the visitors trail top-placed Napoli by a mere two points.

Though the sides have experienced contrasting fortunes thus far this term, a victory would be equally significant to both teams, given their pre-season expectations. Spezia’s prime objective is to remain in Serie A after impressing in their maiden top-flight campaign last season, while Milan hope to build on an eye-catching runner-up finish in 2020/21. 

Spezia Form Preview

It hasn’t been a promising start to the season for Spezia by any stretch of the imagination, with Thiago Motta’s men going winless in four of their inaugural five Serie A fixtures to date (W1, D1, L3). With just a point separating them for the relegation territory, it comes as no surprise that the ex-Inter midfielder is under heavy scrutiny heading into this round.

Spezia’s poor form under Motta has seen them lose three of their last four Serie A outings (W1), as many reverses as they had in their previous nine in the competition (W1, D5, L3). Additionally, the Ligurians are winless in three straight home league matches (D1, L2), conceding an average of 2.00 goals per game in the process.

Motta’s first task in this encounter will be to shore up Spezia’s glaring defensive woes. They have not only failed to keep a clean sheet in all five league matches so far, but they’ve conceded 2+ goals on three occasions already. The 39-year-old, who has heaped praise on Milan in the build-up to this clash (via SempreMilan), will have to invent something special to get his side’s season back on track here.

Of Spezia’s 13 Serie A goals shipped thus far, nine came against last season’s top-six sides. Despite conceding first against Juventus at this venue last time out, the Aquilotti managed to pick themselves up and complete the turnaround before the 50th minute. However, they failed to keep a slender lead and eventually fell to a 3-2 defeat, as they did against Lazio on Matchday 2.

Milan Form Preview

Milan’s Serie A form this season has been a sharp contrast to Spezia’s disappointing showings. The Rossoneri have won all but one of their first five top-flight matches, barring a hard-earned 1-1 away draw with Juventus last weekend. 

Stefano Pioli’s side eked out a 2-0 home victory over newly-promoted Venezia last time out despite failing to break down the stubborn visitors in the opening 60 minutes of play. However, another rock-solid defensive display has seen Milan register their eighth clean sheet in ten Serie A games since May, more than any other side across Europe’s top-five leagues in that period.

Topically, Pioli’s men have kept their opposition at bay in four of their last five Serie A matches away from home, as many shutouts as they had in their previous 19 road trips in the competition. 

It’s fair to say that Milan’s imperious Serie A form since May has emanated from a water-tight backline, which includes in-form summer signing Mike Maignan

The ex-Lille goalkeeper has already made the Rossoneri fans forget about Gianluigi Donnarumma’s heartbreaking departure for PSG in the summer. Including his final appearances for Lille, Maignan has kept the joint-most 16 clean sheets in Europe’s top-five leagues in 2021. 

At the other end of the pitch, Milan have scored 2+ goals in three of their last four Serie A fixtures despite being forced to play without Olivier Giroud and Zlatan Ibrahimovic twice in that sequence. 

With Giroud and Ibra expected to remain on the sidelines against Spezia, Rafael Leao could be Milan’s hard-hitter. The Portuguese’s forward lone brace in Serie A came against this opposition at home in October 2020.

Spezia vs Milan Predicted Lineups

Spezia (4-2-3-1): Jeroen Zoet; Kelvin Amian, Petko Hristov, Dimitris Nikolaou, Simone Bastoni; Salva Ferrer, Mehdi Bourabia; Daniele Verde, Giulio Maggiore, Emmanuel Gyasi; Janis Antiste.

Milan (4-2-3-1): Mike Maignan; Alessandro Florenzi, Fikayo Tomori, Alessio Romagnoli, Theo Hernandez; Sandro Tonali, Franck Kessie; Alexis Saelemaekers, Brahim Diaz, Rafael Leao; Ante Rebic.