2GK00JX Milan, Italy, 12th September 2021. Zlatan Ibrahimovic of AC Milan reacts during the Serie A match at Giuseppe Meazza, Milan. Picture credit should read: Jonathan Moscrop / Sportimage

AC Milan top Serie A ahead of Liverpool clash – but lose key man to serious injury

AC Milan warmed up for the visit of Liverpool in midweek by going top of the Serie A table on Saturday, though their preparations have been rocked by a serious injury.

The Reds visit San Siro for the first time since 2008 on Tuesday night, having already guaranteed top spot in Group B of the Champions League.

There is still a lot riding on the midweek clash, however, with Milan hopeful of reaching the last 16 at the expense of Porto and Atletico Madrid, needing a win to boost their chances.

Like Liverpool, Stefano Pioli’s side have played twice over the past week, with a 3-0 victory over Genoa followed by the visit of Salernitana on Saturday afternoon.

Piolo set his side up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, making six changes as the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Sandro Tonali were rested, with Tiemoue Bakayoko and loanee Pietro Pellegri among those coming in.

Pellegri’s afternoon lasted only 16 minutes, however, before he was forced off with an injury problem, by which point Milan were already a goal up through Franck Kessie.

Alexis Saelemaekers made it 2-0 soon after, with Pioli using the rest of the game – against a side featuring 38-year-old Franck Ribery in the No. 10 role – to shuffle his squad around to avoid further issues for the Champions League.

Left-back Theo Hernandez was one of those brought off mid-game, while Ibrahimovic was unused throughout ahead of a possible start against Liverpool.

Milan will be without centre-back Simon Kjaer for the Reds’ visit, however, with the 32-year-old suffering an ACL injury in the win at Genoa.

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JULY 03: Simon Kjaer of Denmark looks on during the warm up prior to the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Quarter-final match between Czech Republic and Denmark at Baku Olimpiya Stadionu on July 03, 2021 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Francois Nel - UEFA)

Kjaer underwent surgery on Friday and is expected to miss six months of action, which should rule him out for the remainder of the season.

Alessio Romagnoli, captain but no longer a first-choice starter, has stepped in alongside Fiyako Tomori, with 22-year-old Matteo Gabbia the option in reserve.

Pellegri, Olivier Giroud, Ante Rebic and Davide Calabria are all doubts for Tuesday’s game, while Samu Castillejo is almost certainly out.

After Saturday’s win over Salernitana, Milan sit top of Serie A, as they return their focus to the Champions League and the hope of clinching a place in the last 16.

Milan XI vs. Salernitana: Maignan; Florenzi, Tomori, Romagnoli, Hernandez (Ballo-Toure 61′); Bakayoko (Bennacer 46′), Kessie (Tonali 79′); Saelemaekers, Diaz, Leao (Messias 46′); Pellegri (Krunic 16′)