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AC Milan travel to Cagliari in Serie A on Monday night where a victory is needed to reopen a three-point gap with Inter in the Scudetto race.

Milan hold a game in hand against their title rivals City, but the two are now tied with 40 points after Inter beat Juventus in the Derby d’Italia on Sunday night.

The Rossoneri’s undefeated run in the league came to an end when they were defeated by Juve in early January, but they have since bounced back and won their last two games despite having to deal with an injured team that a number of key players are missing.

Cagliari, meanwhile, are only one point above the relegation zone and have yet to score a point in 2021.

Here is 90 minspreview of the clash.

When is the kick-off? Monday January 18
What time is the kick-off? 19:45 (GMT)
Where is it played? Sardegna Arena
TV channel / live broadcast? Premier Sports 1, LiveScore app
Arbitrator? Rosario Abisso

Above all, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is back from injury, while new signing Soualiho Meite is available for Milan and is an option should anything happen to the usual duo of Alessio Romagnoli and Simon Kjaer at the back. Discussions over offers for Fikayo Tomori and Mario Mandzukic continue to growl.

Alexis Saelemaekers are back for Stefano Pioli’s side after also recovering from a thigh injury, but Milan still don’t have many key names.

Ismael Bennacer remains injured, while Ante Rebic, Hakan Calhanoglu, Rade Krunic and Theo Hernandez have all tested positive for COVID-19. Rafael Leao is also out with suspension, giving Milan a selection headache as the clash draws near.

Cagliari is also without some key figures. Marko Rog remains out for a long time, while Paolo Farago and Zito Luvumbo are also injured. Ragnar Klavan and Andrea Carboni are unavailable after positive COVID-19 tests.

Cagliari: (4-3-3): Vicario; Zappa, Walukiewics, Ceppitelli, Lykogiannis; Nandez, Marin, Caligara; Sottil, Pavoletti, Tramoni.

Milan: (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Dalot; Kessie, Tonali; Castillejo, Diaz, Hauge; Ibrahimovic.

Milan’s defeat to Juventus on January 6 was tough to face, but they have rebounded with two wins against Turin since.

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The first was a convincing win in 90 minutes, while the second saw a decided 0-0 draw on penalties to allow the Rossoneri to advance to the quarter-finals of Coppa Italia, where they will face again Inter.

Despite a number of injuries, Milan have managed to stay afloat. And with their top scorer back at Ibrahimovic, Milan will only be boosted as the second half of the season approaches. The 39-year-old has scored 11 goals in 12 games and is an experienced character on a largely young team.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Milan’s top scorer will be key as things move closer in second half of campaign | Alessandro Sabattini / Getty Images

Cagliari has not won a game since winning Coppa Italia over Hellas Verona in November. A good performance against the league leaders will come in handy for a six-point relegation with Genoa.

Here’s how each team has performed in their last five games.

AC Milan
Milan 0 (5) – (4) 0 Turin (12/1)
Milan 2-0 Turin (9/1)
Milan 1-3 Juventus (6/1)
Benevento 0-2 Milan (3/1)
Milan 3-2 Lazio (23/12)

Cagliari
Atalanta 3-1 Cagliari (14/1)
Fiorentina 1-0 Cagliari (10/1)
Cagliari 1-2 Benevento (6/1)
Cagliari 1-4 Naples (3/1)
Roma 3-2 Cagliari (23/12)

While Milan are still limited by unavailable players galore, there are some bright spots to be learned from Ibrahimovic’s return and the activity in the transfer market.

A resilient victory on penalties showed their courage and Pioli will have pushed his side to know how important this is for three points against favorable opposition, in order to stay one step ahead of Inter.

Stefano Pioli
Pioli galvanized Milan | Alessandro Sabattini / Getty Images

Cagliari can do their best against a slightly weakened Rossoneri, but the league leaders will win.

Prediction: Cagliari 0-2 Milan

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