Serie A 11-12/12/21: Inter Milan and AC Milan in action as title race intensifies
You could throw a blanket over the top four teams in Serie A. With just four points separating them, the title race could go down to the wire. However, Napoli will be on the rebound after a 3-2 defeat to Atalanta in their last outing. In this preview, we will look ahead to two matches — Udinese v AC Milan and Inter Milan v Cagliari.
AC Milan looking assured after a comfortable win over Salernitana
After a troubling couple of weeks, where Milan wobbled against Fiorentina and Sassuolo, respectively, the Rossoneri were back to their best against Salernitana. They adopted the perfect mindset, and they dictated the pace of the game to stay top of the table. Two goals inside the space of 18 minutes from Franck Kessie and Alexis Saelemaekers were enough to kill the game off.
However, Milan are facing a pivotal week in their campaign. They need a result against Liverpool in the Champions League to qualify for the last 16 of that competition. And obviously, they can’t let up in the Serie A, as they have upcoming clashes against Napoli and Roma to look forward to.
Uncovering some of the key stats of AC Milan’s win over Salernitana
The significance of Milan’s win over Salernitana can’t be understated as they kept back-to-back clean sheets. Milan have now registered 38 points at this stage of the season. This is their best return since their 2003/04 campaign. And they also fashioned 14 shots in the first half against Salernitana, a record in the first half in the Serie A this season.
Udinese crave inspiration despite enthralling draw with Lazio
Udinese, to a certain extent, have become the draw specialists. This was embodied by their enthralling 4-4 draw away to Lazio last week. Before taking on Milan, Udinese face Empoli in midweek. But Udinese need some inspiration, as they are 14th in the table, and they have won just one of their past nine Italian top-flight matches.
Udinese v AC Milan: Looking back on past encounters
Udinese will be all too aware of the threat that Milan will pose on Saturday. And while they have played out some competitive clashes with Milan over the years, they will want to make amends for their 2-1 defeat last season. On that day, Zlatan Ibrahimovic grabbed the winner seven minutes from time.
Inter Milan on a roll after putting Roma to the sword
Inter Milan have been churning out the wins and, last Saturday, they put Roma to the sword with a 3-0 victory. The defeat was humbling for Roma, especially Jose Mourinho as it was his joint-heaviest loss as a manager. The other came when he was Manchester United’s boss. Then he was on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline against Tottenham.
Goals from Hakan Calhonoglu, Edin Dzeko, and Denzel Dumfries emphasised the gulf in class between the two sides. For Dumfries, it was his first goal in an Inter shirt, and he became the 10th Dutchman to net in Serie A. Reacting to his strike, Dumfries said: “I’d dreamt of this moment for so long. I’d like to dedicate this to my pregnant partner.”
Meanwhile, Cagliari are battling for their lives, and a clash with Inter on Sunday evening may well fill the squad with dread. Cagliari have only won once all season, and they have drawn each of their past three games. They also need to address their defensive record, as they have conceded 29 goals so far this season.
Inter Milan v Cagliari: Unlocking the vault on previous clashes
Cagliari could have their work cut out against Inter Milan. If we take a cursory look at the head-to-head record, Inter have fared very well against Cagliari. Last season, Inter won both at home and away at Cagliari. At the San Siro, a Matteo Darmian goal proved to be enough between the two sides.
Lautaro Martinez could return for Inter against Cagliari, and that will be a big boost for the Nerazzuri, as he has scored eight goals. However, they will miss Joaquin Correa, who is set to be out for the rest of the calendar year with a suspected hamstring problem. If Cagliari are going to get anything out of this game, they have to be disciplined defensively.
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