ITALY: Serie A
Time: 20:45 PM
Venue: Stadio Carlo Castellani (Empoli)
After a run of five league matches unbeaten (W3, D2), Empoli’s half-term Serie A (SA) report will make for pleasant reading as they’ve managed their best 18-game points haul since 2015/16 and could occupy a top-half place come Christmas. Bizarrely, they both conceded and scored own goals during Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Spezia with both ‘scorers’ netting for their former clubs!
After scoring 2+ goals in each of their last three home league matches (W2, D1), Empoli can take some confidence into this fixture with AC Milan, against whom they’ve lost just one of the last four H2Hs here (D3). More goals might be required though, as they haven’t kept a SA clean sheet at home this term.
Winless in three competitive matches (D1, L2), Milan must boost their flagging title challenge as prior to the round they’d dropped four points behind leaders Inter Milan following Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to Napoli. An early goal proved their undoing in that game, and a repeat could spell danger as they’ve won just once after conceding the opener in the league this term (D3, L2).
That said, ‘I Rossoneri’ have won all five league away matches in which they led at half-time so once ahead they’re hard to stop. However, like their hosts, Milan have not been as defensively sound as they’d like. On the road this term seven (78%) of their SA matches witnessed both teams scoring – as did the last five H2Hs here.
Players to watch: Empoli’s Nedim Bajrami has scored in two of his last four competitive appearances, and his last four goals have come after the 50th minute. Meanwhile, Milan have won all three SA games in which fit-again Olivier Giroud scored this term, with none of his four league goals arriving after the 60th minute.
- Empoli’s form in last 5 matches: DWWWD.
- AC Milan’s form in last 5 matches: LDLWW
PREDICTION: Draw/Away and Under 4.5