Scudetto-hopefuls AC Milan will take on AS Roma at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza when the Serie A resumes this Thursday.

Unbeaten in their last four Serie A matches against Roma, AC Milan will be bidding to claim their fourth win in five matches with The Giallorossi. 

With two positive covid-19 cases as of yet (on Wednesday), AC Milan and Roma are two of the least affected Serie A clubs, with an extensive outbreak at some other sides growing concerns regarding several Serie A matches are at risk, although Lega Serie A doesn't intend to postpone most of them.

AC Milan Betting Preview (+105 @ BetOnline)

The Rossoneri had to endure several disappointing results last month but they rounded off the year with a 4-2 win at Empoli. First, AC Milan were eliminated from Europe and also suffered a frustrating 1-0 defeat to Napoli in their last home match, when Franck Kessié's late equalizer was controversially disallowed by VAR.

With arch rivals Inter gaining momentum and consistency, AC Milan must string together a winning streak if they are to apply pressure on the Serie A leaders. 

Halfway into the season, The Rossoneri sit as the Serie A's second-highest scorers averaging 2.11 goals per game, yet they also have one point less at this stage than last year, when they eventually finished 12 points off the top spot. 

With seven goals in 11 Serie A appearances (starting eight of them) this season, including a free-kick that opened the scoring in AC Milan's 2-1 win at Roma in October, ageless Zlatan Ibrahimovic should lead the line on Thursday. All in all, the Swedish veteran boasts 11 goals and three assists in 15 Serie A matches against Roma, though some of them were for his former clubs Juventus and Inter. 

Davide Calabria, Rafael Leao and Ante Rebic have all recovered from their injuries, but only Leao is tipped to start on Thursday evening.

With experienced Danish defender Simon Kjaer sidelined for the foreseeable future, skipper Alessio Romagnoli should continue alongside Fikayo Tomori at centre-back. 

Senegalese left-back departed for the Africa Cup of Nations, as well as midfielders Ismaël Bennacer of Algeria and Ivory Coast's Franck Kessié. Thus, Tiemoué Bakayoko could step into central midfield with Franck Kessié and Ismaël Bennacer both on international duty.

Meanwhile, Milan have announced another one of their players has tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, after backup goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu, but did not reveal his name.

Roma Betting Preview (+265 @ BetOnline)

The Giallorossi have missed a fine opportunity to close the year in a four game winning streak when they conceded a late equalizer against Sampdoria, with Jose Mourinho's side hanging on to a top-six spot right now, level on points with Fiorentina in seventh and one point above arch rivals Lazio in eighth.

Roma finished seventh last season – their worst finish since 2011-12, when Luis Enrique's Roma also finished seventh in Serie A – and this led to Paulo Fonseca's dismissal. Experienced manager José Mourinho succeeded his fellow compatriot at the start of 2021-22 and has to deliver better results. 

A four-game unbeaten streak coming into this tie – including an impressive 4-1 victory at Atalanta – has silenced some of José Mourinho’s critics. Yet, with three more defeats at this stage than twelve months ago, and 10 fewer goals scored, there’s plenty of room for improvement in the second half of the season.

Where Jose Mourinho's side have shown real improvement is turning half-time draws into victories at full-time, which they’ve done three times away from home in Serie A this season – with just two sides could better that across Europe’s top-five leagues at the start of 2022. 

Roma will travel to Milan before a run of three consecutive home matches, including a clash against top-four hopefuls Juventus at the weekend – if everything goes as originally scheduled. 

With 12 goals in 24 games for Roma this season (just six in 18 Premier League starts though), Tammy Abraham hopes to revive his career in Italy and he will have to improve these numbers. However, the former Chelsea man is a doubt as the English forward was involved in a car crash earlier this week.

Captain Lorenzo Pellegrini and former AC Milan attacker Stephan El Shaarawy are both available for selection after training with the squad this week.

Roma starlet Felix Afena-Gyan has been dropped from Ghana’s final 28-man squad for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, so he should be in contention. 

Elsewhere, Gambia's Ebrima Darboe and Guine's Amadou Diawara have both joined their national teams for the Africa Cup of Nations, but neither of them is a first-team player for Roma so we can say that their absences won't hurt Jose Mourinho's game plan. 

Possible Starting Lineups of AC Milan and Roma 

AC Milan: Mike Maignan – Theo Hernandez, Alessio Romagnoli, Fikayo Tomori, Alessandro Florenzi – Tiémoué Bakayoko, Sandro Tonali – Rafael Leão, Brahim Díaz, Alexis Saelemaekers – Zlatan Ibrahimovic. (4-2-3-1) 

Roma: Rui Patrício – Gianluca Mancini, Chris Smalling, Roger Ibañez – Rick Karsdorp, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Jordan Veretout, Bryan Cristante, Matías Viña – Tammy Abraham, Nicolò Zaniolo. (3-5-2) 

Spooky Express Betting Prediction 

With just one win in their last six home matches across all competitions (1-2-3 record), Stefano Pioli's side will need to do much better in the new year in order to keep their Scudetto dreams alive. With that said, a game against Jouse Mourinho's Roma would be another stern test of their credentials, particularly when Pioli must reorganize his starting XI. 

Roma are yet to draw on the road in Serie A this season, losing four of their nine away games (4-0-5), yet a draw at Milan would likely be an acceptable outcome. But on the other hand, Roma do realize that they might have the right performers to expose Milan's vulnerabilities in the first game after the short winter break. 

Spooky Express Free Play: Over 2½, 3 (2.75) -109 @ BetOnline for 6/10 Units

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