Preview: AC Milan vs. Empoli 

Preview: AC Milan vs. Empoli 

Fresh from their comprehensive victory over Serie A leaders Napoli, Scudetto holders AC Milan will look to consolidate their place in the top four when they welcome Empoli to San Siro on Friday.

The visitors, meanwhile, are seeking to claim successive top-flight victories for just the second time this season after picking up maximum points against Lecce last time out.

Following a four-game winless run in all competitions, including away league defeats at Fiorentina and Udinese, AC Milan bounced back in emphatic fashion with a surprising, yet impressive, 4-0 victory away against Napoli on Sunday.

In-demand forward Rafael Leao starred for the Rossoneri and scored either side of half time, while Brahim Diaz and Alexis Saelemaekers were also on the scoresheet to help Stefano Pioli’s men secure a statement Serie A win shortly before the two teams renew acquaintances in the Champions League quarter-finals next week.

Hopes of Milan retaining their top-flight title were quashed some time ago, with 20 points currently separating them from Napoli at the summit, and securing a place in next season’s Champions League is now the sole focus for Pioli’s side, who sit third in the table and only one point above Roma in fifth.

Three favourable-looking league fixtures against Empoli, Bologna and Lecce are up next for Milan in and around their Champions League tie with Napoli, and Pioli will be targeting maximum points from this run before ending the month with an important clash away against Roma.

The Rossoneri will be confident of success on Friday as they have won each of their last four Serie A meetings against Empoli, including a 3-1 away win in October; not since the days of former boss Carlo Ancelotti between 2003 and 2006 have Milan won five successive league matches against the Azzurri.

Empoli ended a miserable nine-game winless league run, including four straight defeats, when they secured a slender 1-0 home victory over Lecce on Monday night.

A converted penalty kick from January loan signing Francesco Caputo just after the hour mark proved to be the winning goal for the hosts, who managed to prevent their opponents from striking a single shot on target.

Paolo Zanetti’s side will be confident of cementing their top-flight status for next season as they currently sit 14th in the Serie A standings and 12 points clear of the relegation zone, while the prospect of securing a top-10 finish cannot be ruled out as they are only seven points behind Torino in 10th with 10 games remaining.

Empoli head into Friday’s contest having only won three of their 29 Serie A encounters against AC Milan, although all three victories have taken place at San Siro, while they have already beaten Inter Milan in the same stadium this year, winning 1-0 at the end of January.

AC Milan Serie A form:

AC Milan form (all competitions):

Empoli Serie A form:

We say: AC Milan 2-0 Empoli
Both teams will be keen to build on their respective victories last time out, although AC Milan will be regarded as the favourites to come out on top in Friday’s contest.

Empoli have already picked up three points at San Siro against Inter this term, but the Rossoneri should have few problems securing a routine win in front of their home supporters here.

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