Something must give on Sunday evening, as two sides with perfect Serie A records meet at San Siro, with AC Milan hosting their capital counterparts Lazio.
An Olivier Giroud-inspired Milan coasted to victory at Cagliari last time out, while Maurizio Sarri’s visitors have been among the goals and sit top of the early-season standings.
After years of service to the national cause, Olivier Giroud was not selected for the France squad for this month’s World Cup qualifiers, but it may not be long before his return after he bagged a brace in Milan’s 4-1 win over Cagliari at San Siro a fortnight ago.
Having left European champions Chelsea in search of more regular football, Giroud made a good impression in the 1-0 win at Sampdoria which opened the Rossoneri’s 2021-22 campaign, and then followed up by scoring the third and fourth in what turned out to be a runaway victory over the Isolani.
Stefano Pioli’s side were given the lead by Sandro Tonali’s stunning free-kick – his first ever Milan goal – before Alessandro Deiola surprisingly levelled the scores three minutes later. They only took a minute to regain the lead through Rafael Leao, though, and then never looked back.
Having since secured the signatures of Tiemoue Bakayoko and former delivery man Junior Messias – a revelation with relegated Crotone last season – Pioli has seemingly moved on from the loss of Gianluigi Donnarumma to Paris St. Germain and is intent on building towards another Scudetto challenge, after last term’s attempt foundered in the final stages.
There is also a long-awaited return to the Champions League to look forward to, plus the looming league clash with Juventus next weekend. First, though, their hopes of starting a second successive season with three straight wins is sure to be fully tested by Lazio on Sunday.
Nonetheless, the Rossoneri have lost only one of their last 31 home league games against the Roman club in since 1990 – including last year’s 3-2 win at the Meazza – so precedent will certainly be on their side.
‘Sarri-ball’ is alive and well, or so it seems, as Lazio have made a blistering start to life under their new boss – rattling in nine goals across their first two league games; a record for the Biancocelesti in Serie A.
Maligned despite lifting trophies at both Chelsea and Juventus, now Maurizio Sarri aims to re-establish his reputation as a proponent of the beautiful game, while also improving the fortunes of a side which missed out on a top-four finish last term.
An opening day victory over Serie B champions Empoli may have been expected – though the Tuscans then went on to beat Juventus the following week – but a 6-1 thrashing of Spezia certainly caught the attention, particularly as it came soon after the departure of prized forward Joaquin Correa to Inter.
Lazio demonstrated that they can still prosper without the Argentina international and his current boss Simone Inzaghi, who also left Rome this summer, by overcoming an early deficit for the second match in succession with a first-half hat-trick from star striker Ciro Immobile.
Despite his international difficulties, the Italy forward has not only got back on the goal trail with four strikes from his first two league outings but has also scored seven times in 13 matches against Milan in Serie A. Furthermore, his first hat-trick for the Aquile came against them in 2017, and he has now scored in each of his last three league encounters with the Rossoneri.
Having inherited a side that were regular top-four contenders under Inzaghi before ending last season in sixth place, Sarri’s recruitment has been restricted by financial difficulties at his new club this summer. Nevertheless, while Immobile remains, so do Lazio’s hopes of success.
AC Milan Serie A form:
AC Milan form (all competitions):
Lazio Serie A form:
Lazio form (all competitions):
We say: AC Milan 3-2 Lazio
There is little to suggest that the flow of goals these sides have produced will slow this weekend, as even more attacking talent is available to both bosses after further recruitment and the return of injured players.
Only Milan’s superb record on home soil over the past couple of years could give them the edge, as their full-backs make the most of space vacated by Lazio’s progressive approach.