Sunday night football under the floodlights in the Italian capital, you can feel the tension and the anxiety, the big-game feel to it. After an impressive away win in Sardinia on Wednesday night, AS Roma are back in Rome where they will take on 2nd place AC Milan in the Sunday night clash.
I was extremely impressed with the reaction that AS Roma showed in the second half after going down a goal in Sardinia. They bounced back well after changing formation to a back three and pushed on the wings backs of Nicolo Zaniolo and substitute Stephan El Shaarawy as wide forwards.
Roma was more creative, and you had the sense of feeling that the equaliser was coming, it did from the head of Roger Ibanez and moments later the winner came. What a goal it was from Lorenzo Pellegrini, a wonderful free-kick which Cagliari goalkeeper Alessio Cragno had no chance. The credit for the goal goes to Nicolo Zaniolo who won the ball on the halfway line from Cagliari Greek defender Charalampos Lykogiannis who could not keep up with Zaniolo who used his pace and physicality and enticed the foul from the Greek wing-back. The rest they say is history.
It was bold from Jose Mourinho to switch formation after conceding to Leonardo Pavoletti close-range finish after Matias Vina‘s mistake. The gamble paid off brilliantly, Mourinho changed his setup three times in the second half to see the game out. The Uruguayan defender was substituted for Ghanian attacker Felix Agena-Gyan who impressed with his second-half cameo and there was a lot of outpouring of support on social media. His post-match press conference was a joy to watch, you could see the excitement and joy it brought to him.
PREDICTED XI | ROMA (4-2-3-1)
Rui Patricio, Karsdorp, Mancini, Ibanez, Vina, Cristante, Veretout, Zaniolo, Pellegrini, El Shaarawy, Abraham.
AC Milan are the visitors to the Italian capital this weekend in a massive 7 days ahead for the red and black side of Milan. Roma on Sunday, Porto in the UCL in midweek, and next Sunday is the first Milan derby of the season in week 12 just before the international break.
AC Milan along with league leaders Napoli have been the two best teams to watch in Serie A this season. Both are on 28 points from 10 games with Napoli edging out AC Milan only on goal difference. AC Milan have won 9 out of their opening 10 games with 9 wins and 1 draw. The sole draw was on matchday 4 with a 1-1 draw in Turin against Juventus.
After that, AC Milan under Stefano Pioli have won six on the bounce in Serie A, with the last two victories against a 9-man Bologna side 4-2 in an entertaining 6 goal thriller and on Tuesday night in a more evenly contested game a 1-0 home win over Torino. Stefano Pioli’s AC Milan was not at their best in the last two games, but they managed to find that something special to get the job done.
Stefano Pioli has been in charge of AC Milan as a coach since October 2019 after the sacking of Marco Giampaolo. It was a poor start from Pioli as they only won 1 of his first 6 games in charge and that was a 1-0 home win over SPAL on Halloween. That patchy form continued until the season halted due to the COVID 19 pandemic in March 2020.
When the season resumed in June 2020 AC Milan were a different side and hit the ground running. Ever since then he and his AC Milan side have not looked back. Tomorrow will be his 80th Serie A game in charge of AC Milan, his record is outstanding 49 wins, 17 draws and, 13 defeats. 164 points from 79 games at a point per game record of 2.08.
PREDICTED XI | AC MILAN (4-2-3-1)
Tatarusanu, Calabria, Tomori, Kjaer, Theo Hernandez, Tonali, Kessie, Saelemaekers, Brahim Diaz, Leao, Giroud.