MILAN — AC Milan has the chance to climb to the top of Serie A when they host Lazio on Saturday but a number of injuries and their looming Champions League match against Borussia Dortmund could give coach Stefano Pioli a selection headache.
Milan moved level on 15 points with leaders Inter on Wednesday with a 3-1 win over Cagliari, as their city rivals were beaten 2-1 by Sassuolo, but their schedule does not get any easier and their already-depleted squad is increasingly stretched.
Forwards Rafael Leao and Olivier Giroud could start after being on the bench against Cagliari, while Mike Maignan is close to returning in goal after struggling with a thigh problem.
Pierre Kalulu and Luka Jovic have been struggling with injuries along with Rade Krunic, while long-term injuries Ismael Bennacer and Mattia Caldara are expected to return before the New Year.
Despite concerns that a lack of squad depth could pose challenges in a hectic season, with the club visiting Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday, Pioli denied it was a problem.
“I don´t have a lot of players and I prefer that, but I have a few ready to play,” he said according to Reuters.
“Maybe you can pay for that in the short term, but in the long term we will benefit with more motivated players and fewer injuries.”
Despite finishing above Milan in the table last season, Lazio have had a poor start to the new campaign, with just two wins in their first six matches to leave them in 11th spot.
INTER LOOK TO BOUNCE BACK
Inter will try to shake off the shock of their defeat to Sassuolo when they travel to Salernitana on Saturday.
New recruit Benjamin Pavard remained an unused substitute against Sassuolo and coach Simone Inzaghi may rest several players again before their home Champions League group stage clash against Benfica on Tuesday.
Stefano Sensi and Juan Cuadrado remain sidelined for Inzaghi’s team along with Marko Arnautovic, and they are not expected to return in the short term.
Atalanta will host Juventus on Sunday and Gian Piero Gasperini’s side appear to be gaining momentum after two consecutive wins, but they too have a challenging European encounter against Portuguese side Sporting in the Europa League to prepare for next week.
Juventus have no such concerns and can concentrate on manager Massimiliano Allegri’s goal of finishing in the top four this season.
Champions Napoli appeared to have stopped the rot after their underwhelming start to the season with a solid 4-1 victory against Udinese on Wednesday, with Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia among the scorers.
They will face Lecce away on Saturday, a team that have surprised many with three wins in their first six matches to sit in sixth place.