After a disappointing draw earlier this week, Serie A leaders AC Milan aim to take a step closer to their first Scudetto for a decade when they visit Torino on Sunday evening.
Ending a three-match winning streak, the Rossoneri were held goalless by Bologna on Monday night, so will be keen to complete the double over their mid-table opponents following October’s win at San Siro.
After they strode through March with three straight one-goal wins – against Empoli, Cagliari and title rivals Napoli – their return after the international break saw Milan start April with a damp squib at Dall’Ara.
Despite rattling in 33 shots at the Bologna goal last time out, Stefano Pioli’s side were unable to break down a stubborn home side, so only extended their advantage at the top of the table to a single point, ahead of Napoli.
Since Ismael Bennacer’s winner against Cagliari, the Rossoneri have registered 43 attempts without scoring – their longest such streak in Serie A for over two years – and that drought forms part of a wider trend in recent weeks.
Following two goals against rock-bottom Salernitana in mid-February, Milan have found the net just four times in their six most recent league and cup outings and are running out of firepower when they need it most – with just seven games remaining.
The once dominant club have not been crowned Italian champions since 2011 but finished runners-up to Inter last season, and the fate of the Scudetto now lies within their own hands, so finding their finishing touch is essential over the coming month.
As they continue their pursuit of a 19th national title, Milan now meet a side they thrashed 7-0 in their last league meeting in Turin, and though their hosts have improved significantly since then, it was the Rossoneri who prevailed again when the teams last met – Olivier Giroud’s strike securing a 1-0 win in the autumn.
Before Sunday’s evening kickoff commences, Torino have lost each of their last four Serie A encounters with Milan by an aggregate scoreline of 11-0 and could now suffer five defeats in a row against them for the first time in 70 years.
Their prospects were improved after an increasingly rare victory last weekend bolstered some waning confidence in the camp, as Andrea Belotti slotted home the first-half penalty which saw off Salernitana at Stadio Arechi.
A 1-0 win for the Granata ended their eight-game winless streak, but they remain mired in mid-table mediocrity; sitting 11th in the standings, with little prospect of breaking into the top half before the campaign concludes.
Hopes of hauling in 10th-placed Verona are relatively slim for Ivan Juric’s side, who trail the Scaligeri by seven points but with one game still in hand.
Despite Juric enacting radical change on Torino’s defensive displays – with the much-admired Bremer often to the fore – they last kept successive clean sheets last September, so will be keen to do so on Sunday and perhaps gain a measure of revenge for that dark day last year when they shipped seven to the rampant Rossoneri.
Torino Serie A form:
AC Milan Serie A form:
AC Milan form (all competitions):
We say: Torino 1-1 AC Milan
Neither side has been fluent in the final third for several weeks now, and it could be an attritional affair for the most part, based on recent form.
Torino can, therefore, frustrate their more illustrious visitors and claim a point, which will do little to aid their cause but may have profound implications in the title race.