Champions League chasing Milan will play host to relegation threatened Empoli at San Siro on Friday night looking to continue their resurgence in form.
I Rossoneri picked up a valuable three points over top four challengers Atalanta last time out, with a brace from new boy Krzysztof Piatek either side of a Hakan Calhanoglu goal giving Gennaro Gattuso's men a valuable 3-1 victory.
Gennaro Gattuso’s side are currently sitting fourth in the standings, four points behind city rivals Inter and are currently in the midst of a nine game unbeaten run dating back to before Christmas.
Last season’s Serie B winners Empoli are currently in 17th place and one spot above the relegation zone. The Azzurri climbed out of the bottom three after thumping Sassuolo 3-0 last weekend - earning their first win in 10 Serie A games.
They will face a tougher game this Friday though - here's 90min's preview to the game.
Where to Watch
|When Is the Match?||Friday 22 February|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||19:30 (BST)|
|Where Is it Being Played?||San Siro|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||Premier Sports 2|
Milan will be without Italian midfielder Giacomo Bonaventura, who is a long-term absentee after knee surgery, and Spanish duo Pepe Reina and Suso.
Former Liverpool winger Suso is serving a one-match ban after picking up five yellow cards, while Reina misses out with a muscle injury picked up last month.
Empoli have no new injury concerns heading into the game, but will be without Lorenzo Polvani, who is still recovering from a cruciate ligament rupture sustained early on in the season.
|Milan||Donnarumma; Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Bakayoko, Kessie, Paqueta; Castillejo, Calhanoglu, Piatek.|
|Empoli||Dragowski; Veseli, Dell’Orco, Silvestre; Di Lorenzo, Acquah, Bennacer, Krunic, Pasqual; Captuo, Farlas.|
Form may favour Milan for this tie but Empoli are unbeaten against I Rossoneri in their past two Serie A encounters.
Earlier this season Milan drew 1-1 with Empoli at the Stadio Carlo Castellani. Francesco Caputo scored a second half penalty after Leonardo Capezzi gifted Milan a head start to the game by putting the ball in his own net after 10 minutes.
The last time Empoli visited San Siro they took home all three points with a shock 2-1 victory for a side that were relegated to Serie B one month later.
Milan have picked up the pace in the race to claim a top four finish in the Serie A. They are on a run of seven games without defeat in the league, after picking up four wins and three draws.
New signing Krzysztof Piatek has been electric form since joining from Genoa, scoring six goals in his opening four games for I Rossoneri.
Empoli have picked up five points from their past five games as they are looking to stay out of the bottom three.
The Azzurri will be disappointed after drawing against both Chievo Verona and Cagliari, with both sides currently below them in Serie A.
Here's how both sides have fared in their past five fixtures.
|Atalanta 1-3 Milan (16/2)||
Empoli 3-0 Sassuolo (17/2)
|Milan 3-0 Cagliari (10/2)||Lazio 1-0 Empoli (7/2)|
|Roma 1-1 Milan (3/2)||Empoli 2-2 Chievo (3/2)|
|Milan 2-0 Napoli (29/1)||Empoli 1-3 Genoa (28/1)|
|Milan 0-0 Napoli (26/1)||Cagliari 2-2 Empoli (20/1)|
Manager Gennaro Gattuso has galvanised his side in recent weeks, with Milan once again a force to be reckoned with in Serie A.
Their passionate fans will be desperate to see them back in the Champions League after a five year absence, and their recent form shows they are on the right track.
An exciting encounter could be on the cards under the lights at San Siro, with Empoli needing to pick up points to avoid the dreaded drop.
The home side should be too strong though and could ultimately run out comfortable winners.
Prediction: Milan 3-1 Empoli