The sides meet at Stadio Dall’Ara, with the Scudetto holders closing in on a Champions League semi-final but clinging onto a top-four spot in Serie A while their hosts have just won back-to-back games without conceding and are eyeing a top-six finish.
As seven-time European champions, Milan’s current side drew upon decades of tradition on Wednesday, as they saw off first-time quarter-finalists Napoli in the first leg of an absorbing all-Italian Champions League tie.
Next week’s return in Naples will kick off with the Rossoneri leading by a goal, after they nullified their Neapolitan counterparts and rode out several storms to emerge 1-0 winners thanks to Ismael Bennacer’s breakaway goal, made by the fleet-footed Brahim Diaz.
Perhaps poised for an historic meeting with city rivals Inter Milan in the semi-finals – the Nerazzurri side of Milan lead Benfica by two and are in the same half of the draw – Stefano Pioli’s men must quickly banish all thoughts of such an occasion and focus on securing a top-four domestic finish.
Ahead of fifth-placed Inter by a single point after their draw goalless draw with Empoli last week, a 22-point gap separates them from the Serie A summit with nine games to go, and with their title defence destined for failure, making sure of a Champions League return is now the priority.
Generally inconsistent outside Italy’s second city, Milan did record a shock 4-0 victory over Napoli in their last away fixture, just after suffering consecutive defeats on the road.
While the Rossoneri last posted back-to-back away wins in October, this week’s assignment would seem to provide a perfect opportunity to do so again: they are unbeaten in their last 16 league meetings with Bologna at Dall’Ara, winning on 14 occasions.
In all, Bologna have not won any of their last 14 Serie A matches against Milan, managing just two draws during that time, but recent form would suggest such a wretched sequence could finally end on Saturday.
Former Inter midfielder Thiago Motta – now linked with a managerial move to San Siro this summer – has led them up the table during 2023, and under his watch they have averaged a healthy 1.6 points per game to sit eighth in the table.
Before Motta arrived in Emilia-Romagna, Bologna had taken six points from as many matches and looked destined for a season of struggle. Fast forward a few months, though, and last week’s 2-0 win away to Atalanta – secured via second-half strikes from Nicola Sansone and a revived Riccardo Orsolini – capped a superb spell for the Rossoblu.
Since the beginning of February, they have picked up 17 points, recording five wins and two draws – better than Milan over the same the period, and only Napoli, Juventus and Lazio have gained more.
After winning their last two games without conceding, Bologna now seek successive Serie A shut-outs for the first time since 1973, and having already kept clean sheets in each of their last three fixtures at Dall’Ara, that seems eminently possible.
Bologna Serie A form:
AC Milan Serie A form:
AC Milan form (all competitions):
We say: Bologna 1-1 AC Milan
As Bologna have been brilliant on home soil and a much-changed Milan may be distracted by dreams of European glory, a share of the spoils could be on the cards. Well organised and offering a renewed challenge under Thiago Motta, the Rossoblu are capable of claiming at least a point against the outgoing champions.