Defending Serie A champions Milan head to the Stadio Olimpico di Torino to take on mid-table Torino in a must-win clash. Days after handing their hopes of reaching the Champions League knockouts a massive boost, Stefano Pioli’s men return to domestic proceedings with high ambitions.
Goals on either side of halftime, including three in the second half, fired Milan to a scintillating 4-0 romping of Dinamo Zagreb in midweek Champions League action. Tuesday’s triumph in Croatia catapulted the Rossoneri past RB Salzburg in the Group E standings ahead of their decisive head-to-head on matchday six.
Confidence is skyrocketing in the San Siro camp these days after they solidified their bid to progress beyond the Champions League group stages for the first time since 2013/14. But Milan cannot afford to take their eyes off Serie A if they’re to lift back-to-back titles for the first time in the new millennium.
With top-placed Napoli entering this round three points clear and seemingly unlikely to drop points at home against Sassuolo on Saturday, anything other than Milan’s win threatens to expand the gap between the sides. However, Ivan Juric’s Torino are no pushovers despite experiencing a mixed Serie A start.
The hosts were trending in the wrong direction off the back of a five-match winless Serie A streak (D1, D4) until last weekend’s 2-1 win over Udinese brought them back to the right path. Although they’ve stemmed the bleeding temporarily, the Granata will have to string together a substantial winning streak to battle their way back into the top-six race.
Keen to prove the beating of Udinese wasn’t just a one-off, Torino will be out to win consecutive Serie A games for the first time since January. Consistency has been a genuine issue for the Granata during Juric’s topsy-turvy reign, yet they’re at least safe from the relegation zone due to a decent start to the season.
Torino held Milan to a scoreless draw in their most recent Serie A encounter, ending a run of four successive H2H league defeats without scoring. Indeed, you’d have to go back to September 2019 for the home side’s last scoring affair against the reigning Italian champions, courtesy of a 2-1 home triumph under Walter Mazzarri.
Whoever breaks Torino’s scoring duck against Milan will reach a milestone, as none of the current Juric’s players have ever scored against the Rossoneri in Serie A. If you’re looking for a talismanic figure, West Ham United loanee Nikola Vlasic could be the man, as he leads the scoring charts in Turin this season with three league strikes.
Visiting Milan have gone from strength to strength since a morale-damaging 2-1 home defeat to Napoli on the eve of September’s international break. Pioli’s men have won four league fixtures on the trot in the run-up to this trip, including a 4-1 trouncing of Silvio Berlusconi’s Monza last weekend.
More importantly, after drawing their opening two away league games of the season, Milan have won their last three Serie A outings on hostile turf despite conceding on each occasion. Pioli’s frontline performs like clockwork even without standout forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with the Rossoneri netting a league-high 21 goals from open play this season.
Rafael Leao has grown into a leader following last season’s MVP award, having a hand in the most goals in Europe’s top-five leagues in 2022/23. The Portuguese whizz-kid has tallied five goals and four assists this term and will be Milan’s main attacking threat in Turin.
Torino vs Milan Potential Line-ups
Torino (3-4-2-1): Vanja Milinkovic-Savic; Koffi Djidji, Perr Schuurs, Ricardo Rodriguez; Valentino Lazaro, Sasa Lukic, Karol Linetty, Mergim Vojvoda; Nemanja Radonjic, Nikola Vlasic; Pietro Pellegri.
Milan (4-2-3-1): Ciprian Tatarusanu; Pierre Kalulu, Fikayo Tomori, Matteo Gabbia, Theo Hernandez; Sandro Tonali, Tommaso Pobega; Ante Rebic, Charles De Ketelaere, Rafael Leao; Divock Origi.