AC Milan play host to Udinese in Serie A on Friday night looking for an immediate response after they dropped points to bottom club Salernitana at the weekend (5.45pm kick-off, UK time).
Stefano Pioli’s side lead the way in Serie A but know current champions and arch-rivals Inter have a game in hand on them which, if they win, would see the two Milan clubs trade places. With things so tight at the summit, the Rossoneri can’t afford another slip up like Saturday’s 2-2 stalemate with Salernitana, and they take on another relegation-threatened side, who have a former Crawley Town manager at the helm on an interim basis in Gabriele Cioffi.
AC Milan vs Udinese betting tips from Squawka Bet
AC Milan team news vs Udinese: Rebic in, Giroud out?
Simon Kjaer is expected to miss the rest of the season after rupturing his ACL in December, so Pioli is likely to stick with a centre-back partnership of Alessio Romagnoli and Fikayo Tomori. Ismael Bennacer is suspended, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic remains on the sidelines with an Achilles issue, so Olivier Giroud is in a strong position to continue leading the line, though he faces competition in Ante Rebic, who recently returned from a thigh injury and came off the bench at the weekend to score — he could well slot in ahead of the former Arsenal and Chelsea striker.
Talking of Giroud, the Frenchman conducted a recent interview with GQ in which he spoke about Milan’s chances of clinching that ever-elusive Scudetto this season, while explaining his decision to leave Stamford Bridge for the San Siro in the summer.
“We must fight until the end, we’ve won nothing yet,” he said
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“Milan have always been one of the most important clubs in the world and one must always aim for the top when wearing this shirt. I’ve always thought that this a good team, with a nice mix of young and experienced players.
“Stefano Pioli is pushing us to give our best. We are aware of our qualities and we’ll do our best to give satisfaction to our fans.”
On his decision to join Milan, he explained: “A lot of great Frenchmen have played here and many football legends: Van Basten, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Shevchenko.
“The first time I spoke to Paolo Maldini on FaceTime was emotional. He is a Milan legend. He embodies Milan’s class. They are a top club and I understand it every day. The organisation is fantastic and Milan is amazing.”
Predicted AC Milan XI vs Udinese:
- Maignan; Calabria, Tomori, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Tonali, Kessie; Messias, Diaz, Leao; Rebic. (4-2-3-1)
Udinese team news vs AC Milan: Pereyra return offers boost in relegation fight
It was a good sight to see Roberto Pereyra return to action in the weekend’s draw with Lazio, with the former Watford playmaker having not featured since November after going under the knife to mend a shoulder complication. The club’s only major injury issue is that to Bram Nuytinck, who has missed the last three games and is not expected to be fit in time to make the journey to the San Siro.
Predicted Udinese XI vs AC Milan:
- Silvestri; Becao, Mari, Perez; Soppy, Pereyra, Walace, Makengo, Molina; Deulofeu, Beto. (3-5-2)