Match Time：11/9/2020 03:45 Monday (GMT+8)
League leaders AC Milan welcome Hellas Verona to San Siro on Monday as two of the most effective defences in Europe go head to head. Verona visit the seemingly unstoppable Rossoneri, riding high in 7th place in the Serie A standings on 11 points and looking to build on a positive start to the season.
This tie is undoubtedly a clash of that rarest of things this season - the mean defence. Milan, with five, and Verona (three) have conceded the fewest goals in Serie A so far and, as if to prove the point, this will also be a game between the two goalkeepers with the highest save percentage - 88.5% for Verona's Marco Silvestri and Italy number one Gianluigi Donnarumma on 84.6%.That is not the only reason why it could be a tight affair. Three of the last seven Serie A meetings between the sides have been drawn - with each side winning twice in that run - so the recent record is finely balanced.Milan, though, are as clinical in front of goal as they are when defending, having scored in each of their last 26 league games. Stefano Pioli's team tend to start brightly too, as they have always scored the first goal of the match so far this term.Quite often it has been Serie A's October MVP Zlatan Ibrahimovic who has set things in motion, after his five goals in the games against Inter, Roma and Udinese - where he netted a spectacular overhead kick - kept his side side ahead of the chasing pack.The irrepressible 39-year-old was given the award this week, as Serie A CEO Luigi De Siervo declared that he had "changed the face of Milan" since his return to Italy.Prior to Zlatan, the last Milan player with at least seven goals in the Rossoneri's first six Serie A matches of a campaign was George Weah in 1996. In fact, only three players have netted more in Milan's first seven league matches of a season - club legends Gunnar Nordahl (in 1950 and 1955), Marco van Basten (1992) and Andriy Shevchenko (2003).That 83rd-minute goal against Udinese earned Pioli's current charges a 2-1 win at the Dacia Arena, which leaves them two points clear of Serie A surprise package Sassuolo. Though their shadow side were then improbably turned over 3-0 by Lille in midweek, Milan's first-choice XI remain well on track domestically.Meanwhile, Verona followed up a point at Juventus and passage to the last 16 of the Coppa Italia by beating Benevento 3-1 at home. Antonin Barak celebrated his return from quarantine by firing a double before the visitors' Gianluca Caprari was sent off, effectively sealing their fate.Now level on points with Napoli, Roma and Inter Milan, the Giallorossi have perhaps surpassed pre-season expectations, as their form at the Bentegodi has gone from strength to strength.Verona's last league win on the road, though, was as far back as January - versus subsequently relegated SPAL. Indeed, they have picked up only eight points in their last 13 away league games and Ivan Juric's side often struggle to break through when on their travels.Not only is recent precedent against them on Sunday, the weight of history bears a heavy burden upon Verona's shoulders too. The Giallorossi are the opponent that Milan have faced the most at home in Serie A without ever losing - recording 16 wins and 12 draws in 28 matches to date.
AC Milan Serie A form: WWWWDW
AC Milan form (all competitions): WWDWWL
Hellas Verona Serie A form: WWLDDW
Hellas Verona form (all competitions): WLDDDW
Verona coach Juric has several holes in his squad for the trip to Milan, as skipper Miguel Veloso and Marco Benassi (both calf injuries), Davide Faraoni and Andrea Favilli (thigh injuries) are still unable to return.Verona must also cope without the unfortunate Koray Gunter, as the German defender has suffered a hamstring injury shortly after his return from self-isolation due to COVID-19 infection.Former Leeds United midfielder Ronaldo Vieira is also now out of contention - potentially until the new year.Though Milan's Davide Calabria and Alexis Saelemaekers both missed Thursday's Europa League defeat with minor muscle injuries, they will be considered for selection at the weekend.Stefano Pioli has an otherwise healthy squad, so is likely to return to his tried and tested league XI - with Ibrahimovic being supported by Rafael Leao and Hakan Calhanoglu in attack. The reliable Ismael Bennacer will also slot back in to bolster the midfield.
AC Milan possible starting lineup: Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Kessie, Bennacer; Saelemaekers, Calhanoglu, Leao; Ibrahimovic
Hellas Verona possible starting lineup: Silvestri; Ceccherini, Lovato, Empereur; Lazovic, Tameze, Ilic, Dimarco; Zaccagni, Barak; Kalinic
AC Milan VS Hellas Verona
AC Milan 2-1 Hellas Verona