Monday night’s Serie A action takes things to Milan, where Stefano Pioli’s home side need all three points if they are to keep up with the sides chasing Europa League football next season. The greater prize of the Champions League is, even at this comparatively early stage, probably a pipe dream – but the Rossoneri must be focusing on getting back into European competition after a season on the sidelines thanks to their Financial Fair Play breaches. Tonight, they face Torino, whose ambitions are less lofty. The 14th-placed Toro simply need to focus on lifting themselves clear of the relegation battle.
The visitors will have a job on their hands – Milan are unbeaten in their last five home games in the league – but if they are looking for a positive omen they could look to the fact that they haven’t lost to the Milanese in the last seven meetings between the sides. They might also look at Milan’s “Goals For” column. With just 25 goals in the league so far, the team that once held all of Europe in its thrall has the fourth-worst attack in Serie A this season.
Milan look to their home form
Since the start of January, Pioli’s side have certainly seen a pick-up in their Serie A performances, notching five in a row without defeat before last weekend’s derby match with Inter. They started that one pretty well too, leading 2-0 at half time in their shared home ground before things went very badly wrong. A 4-2 defeat, even against title-chasing Inter, was a sobering result for this once-proud club. In the midweek cup tie against Juventus, we saw a certain amount of bouncebackability, with the sides drawing 1-1 and Milan arguably unlucky not to win.
However, it’s league points that Milan really need, and they can get some this evening against a Torino side shorn of centre-back Armando Izzo through suspension. The defender was sent off for the second time this season as his side lost 3-1 at home to struggling Sampdoria. Milan are even-money favourites with 888 to be leading at half-time; even with their attack having been less than scintillating this season, they’ve got reason to be confident going forward against a team that has been mediocre at the back even without Izzo.
A nervy evening for Rossoneri fans?
As good as Zlatan Ibrahimovic still is, a team doesn’t hand a contract to a 38-year-old striker who has been playing in America for the last two seasons because they aren’t desperate. In 23 Serie A matches this season, Milan’s top scorer is Theo Hernandez with five. Among many issues with the above statement, perhaps the most concerning would be the fact that the Frenchman plays left-back. Behind Hernandez there is Ante Rebic with four, the same total that has been achieved by Krzysztof Piatek. Piatek, for his part, will not be adding to that total because he left Milan for Hertha Berlin at the end of the transfer window.
This game – a home fixture against a side that is nervously glancing down at the relegation trap-door – is one that Milan should be confident about, and which they would surely be treating as a gimme if they had a striker who was even in the double figures this season. However, there’s every reason to think this will be a low-scoring affair, and with 32Red offering 59/50 in there being fewer than 2.5 goals, we’d be unsurprised to see an attritional outing that never really ignites into fireworks.
Hosts to win, eventually
Given that Milan have been far better at home than on the road, and given their improved form since the turn of the year, it feels reasonable to say that they should be able to pick up the three points here tonight – but we wouldn’t be in too much of a hurry to lay the compliments on too thick. Things are very much in favour of the home side, and they’re strong odds-on favourites to take the three points, but as we’ve said, you can expect it to be a tight, complicated affair. Certainly, the odds on a simple win here don’t seem to offer value.
If you’re looking for a bet worth making on the outcome of the match, then the best on offer might be at Betway where you can get 13/8 on Milan to win and both teams not to score. Although Torino haven’t been bad going forward this season, their confidence is low right now having lost four games in a row in the league; they’ll come here looking for a point at most, and that isn’t going to lend itself to a thrilling forward performance. This has the feel of a 1-0, or 2-0 match and that’s what we would predict.