May 262016

by Juan Carlos Martínez –

Below is a comprehensive piece on the current state of AC Milan. Juan Carlos presents one possible (conservative) scenario on how to move forward with a new strategy that will eventually take Milan back to the top and modernize the team’s football operations. In it he sets a clear scope on how to rejuvenate and rebuild the squad and achieve a self sufficient model.

May 212016

Milan’s dreadful season came to an end last week, the lack of cohesion and passion when facing a bigger team like Roma was embarrassing. Now Milan face Juventus in a final, another poor showing will further hurt the image of the team worldwide.

Tim Cup 2016

The week leading up to the final has felt uncertain, everything from mixed signals about the sale of the team to Berlusconi’s own actions and words to Brocchi’s apparent indecision about the lineup and formation.

Milan reached this cup final without having to beat any top teams. Wins against Perugia, Crotone, Sampdoria, Carpi and Alessandria don’t represent a true test. Considering Milan’s form and if Juventus play to their standard this game is a lost cause. The only real hope is that the players show some pride and represent the Milan shirt well.

Tactically most of the talk has centered around a return to a 4-3-3 of sorts, with the returning Bonaventura playing higher with Honda and Bacca starting up the middle. The midfield may feature the Poli, Montolivo and Kucka trio. The defense still without Abate and Antonelli looks to be Calabria, Zapata, Romagnoli and De Sciglio. Donnarumma should start in goal.

Juventus will be without Bonucci and Marchisio, Khedira and Neto may continue to get the start in Buffon’s place as he has throughout the cup matches this season.

A win and Thursday night Europa League matches beckon, a loss and another Europe-less season awaits … with new owners?

The match kicks off at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico at 20:45 local time. Follow the match on the forum.

May 142016

Milan Roma

The final week of another disappointing season is here and the news is once again dominated by the possible sale to the Chinese group. The Berlusconi era needs to end this summer if the team is to have any chance of becoming a force again. Berlusconi and Galliani still talk of a glorious Milan but they have surely realized that it is in the past, the same past that they are so insistent on mentioning every chance they get. Without a change in management and a new focus this team will fall even further behind than the 6th or 7th spot of this season.

That supposedly important 6th spot has been almost lost, the laboured week 37 1-0 win at Bologna might mean little not only because the final day opponent is Roma, themselves fighting for 2nd spot but also because Sassuolo perhaps deserve the 6th spot more. The Emilia-Romagna based team play Inter and get the chance to make a little bit of history of their own.

News late in the week was of many lineup changes for this game. The reasons for it are not very clear and the Coppa final is one week away so fatigue should not be a major issue. Normally reliable sources like the Gazzetta claim the defense will feature Romagnoli at left back with Mexes, Zapata and Calabria. The midfield is set to feature Locatelli, Poli and Kucka behind Honda. Bonaventura returns after injury but will remain on the bench. The changes don’t end there as Adriano and Balotelli will start with no place for Bacca. All very surprising changes for an important game versus a tough opponent.

Back in goal Abbiati announced that he has decided to leave Milan and the 38 year old might get a send off by getting a start or getting a few final minutes.

Follow the match on the forum.


May 072016

Bologna Milan

A so-called come back to tie the game 3-3 (from 1-3 down) versus the 19th placed team was hardly a cause for celebration. Brocchi may have sealed his own fate by the tie versus Frosinone. The team lacked structure and was unable to to hold shape consistently.

The week leading up to 37th game of the Serie A season was again mostly dominated by the team’s sale or lack there of. Contradictory reports had Berlusconi having doubts, preferring a Milan buyer and Fininvest accepting initial terms. The fear, once again, is that Berlusconi will hang on to the team and make some grand declaration while the team sinks further. Not forgetting the damage Galliani himself has bestowed on the team. Every additional window he is in charge postpones any possible revival or renewal. One striking example is the mooted idea of renewing Montolivo for three years, it is as if the team’s management are living in another dimension, not only ignoring form but remaining blind to the team’s shortcomings. If nothing else, fan comments on Berlusconi’s facebook page surely reach the ex-PM’s ears? Or perhaps not.

On the injury front Bonaventura is still out, Antonelli joins him on the sidelines after injuring himself late in the Frosinone game. Late in the week came news that abate has a knock and he too misses week 37. A reworked defense featuring De Sciglio, Romagnoli, Alex and Calabria will line up behind Mauri, Montolivo, Kucka and Honda. Balotelli and Bacca should start up front. The latter needs to be massive if Milan are going to get points in the last two Serie A games.

Follow the match on the forum.

May 012016

Milan Frosinone

Week 35 was one of the lowest depths Milan have fallen. The 2-1 loss at Verona was nothing short of a humiliating embarrassment. The defeat marked by poor, indifferent play to a last placed team was even more frustrating as a last second freekick gave the hosts the win. Montolivo, the last man in the freekick wall and the team captain ofcourse, made no attempt to jump to head or divert the ball away from its trajectory towards the back of the net. The goal was somewhat reminiscent of the last second Parolo goal conceded vs Parma in the 2013/14 season. But this time the main offender wasn’t Matri but the supposed team leader.

There is now a facebook page demanding Montolivo leave Milan in the summer

There is now a facebook page demanding Montolivo leave Milan in the summer

The defeat piled pressure on the new coach as well as the team and it seems that Brocchi’s fate is already sealed. However, the bigger news that has taken the spotlight away from the non-existent on pitch performance is the growing likelihood that the team will be sold to a Chinese group. Berlusconi is under enormous pressure from his company, Fininvest, to sell. A €90 million loss for the 2015 fiscal year and a hostile annual shareholders meeting may finally push Berlusconi to let go but then again he might continue gutting the team while somehow satisfying his delusional ego and while he and Galliani continue to stick to past glories.

In the meanwhile another team near or in the relegation zone awaits. Bonaventura will miss his second game in a row due to injury but Balotelli and Alex return after serving a one game suspension. Balotelli will partner Bacca up front and Honda will play in front of Mauri, Montolivo and Kucka. Abate, Romagnoli and De Sciglio will line up alongside Alex in the four man defense.

The 4-3-1-2 formation is arguably a wrong one but any tactical analysis will not answer the deeper questions. The team will continue to fail without a plan, support, leaders and heart. This season’s final three games are near meaningless without these four elements. Follow the match on the forum and keep tabs on the sale saga too.

Apr 252016

Verona Milan

Milan travel to Verona to try to do better than the teams’ first meeting, a 1 -1 tie at the San Siro in December. The week 34 0-0 tie vs Carpi was another illustration of a smaller team’s ability to close down and defend, it highlighted Milan’s lack of game changers.

Bacca was highly ineffective as a receiver of the ball and as a finisher, his substitution created controversy as he showed his unhappiness and walked off the pitch. He has since apologised and his presence, however poor it has been, is required because Balotelli is suspended after the yellow he received in the Carpi game. Luiz Adriano continues to be absent and if Brocchi wants to continue his 4-3-1-2 formation Bacca and Menez are the only available forwards.

Kucka returns to midfield but Bonaventura joins Bertolacci on the sidelines. Bonaventura injured himself in the dying minutes of the Carpi game and will miss one week, if not more. Without the two and Boateng’s poor game vs Carpi the midfield is left with little more than Montolivo, Kucka, Mauri and Honda. The latter will likely take over the attacking spot behind the forwards.

The defense needs to change too because Alex’s yellow rules him out of week 35. Mexes is set to be preferred to Zapata and start alongside Romagnoli.

The match kicks off at an unusual hour, 17:00 local time, on a Monday. Follow the match on the forum.

Apr 212016

Milan Carpi

The Brocchi era started with a 1-0 at Sampdoria, the shape of the team was different as expected and there were good moments but it was one beginning with a view of more to come. Whether that means more of the same or a sale to a Chinese group remains to be seen.

Up next to visit the San Siro are Carpi, it was the points dropped to Carpi and other relegation battling teams earlier in the season that have played a big part in Milan being sixth in April. Inter and Fiorentina ahead of Milan in the standings are not exactly on fire and with a few extra points the team would have been fighting for the 5th or even 4th spot now.

Line up news for this match include the surprise inclusion of Boateng as he is set to start and play as a trequartista behind Balotelli and Bacca. Kucka’s yellow vs Sampdoria and Bertolacci’s poor form or injury, as it is claimed, mean that Brocchi had to make changes but using Boateng in the attacking slot and pushing Bonaventura back to midfield is surprising.

The defense should remain unchanged despite continuing whispers of De Sciglio taking Antonelli’s spot. Of course Donnarumma will start in goal. Follow the match on the forum.

Apr 172016

Sampdoria Milan

Following the 2-1 loss to league leaders Juventus it has been another remarkable week for Milan. After a dinner with Cristian Brocchi he was hired by Berlusconi and Mihajlovic dismissed. Milan have now hired a third rookie coach in less than three seasons.

Brocchi brings his own ideas and is known to favour more attack oriented tactics. One of the first consequences of this belief is that Bonaventura will be played on tip of a midfield diamond behind and supporting Balotelli and Bacca. This means that at least for time being Honda will find himself on the bench. How long Brocchi lasts as Milan coach and sticks to his 4-3-1-2 is open to question of course. As mentioned Balotelli will likely start and probably continue to be given a few final chances to help the team and remain beyond this season. The rest of the midfield is set to be predictable with Bertolacci, Montolivo and Kucka starting and not surprisingly there is still no room for the likes of Mauri. Locatelli however, remains a wild card and has been emerging as a potential starter in the last few weeks.

Mexes in place of Alex and De Sciglio in place of Antonelli have been mooted but Brocchi may stick to the same four as Mihajlovic did and keep Antonelli and Alex in the starting eleven.

Sampdoria will likely miss Antonio Cassano and Andrea Ranocchia is suspended after picking up a yellow in his team’s 2-0 over Udinese.

The week also brought news of an American-Chinese group trying to convince Berlusconi to sell a majority stake. Whether that happens is highly questionable but with losses mounting and team’s value falling anything can happen. Read more about the ongoing sales saga on the forum, and about the match too.


Apr 122016

Cristian Brocchi

Reports last night of a dinner with Berlusconi and primavera coach Cristian Brocchi immediately alerted everybody that a coaching change was on the way. It was confirmed by multiple sources and made official today, Brocchi will be Milan coach until the end of the season. The decision is said to have been made by Berlusconi despite Galliani’s hesitation and his preference in keeping Mihajlovic at the helm till the end of the season.

The latest winless streak and several players’ ineffectiveness seems to have convinced Berlusconi and now Brocchi will likely remain beyond the end of the season too. So another inexperienced coach has been thrown in the line of fire. This is likely not going to end well … Forza Milan.

Apr 092016

Milan Juventus

Week 31 proved a disaster and the 2-1 loss to Atalanta extended the winless streak. The crisis that has now followed the good period before it has pretty much killed the chance of even finishing fifth.

The coach didn’t really help his own cause by starting De Sciglio as a right winger of sorts in Honda’s absence. The talk of his dismissal as soon as next week, but probably at season’s end, intensified and there is little to indicate any replacement will be better. Apparently Berlusconi’s first choice is Cristian Brocchi, the primavera coach of course.

The defense welcomes back Alex to partner Romagnoli. Honda should be back as well, Bertolacci though is suspended after receiving a yellow at Atalanta. The latter’s absence should not be felt considering his very poor form. Montolivo is nursing an injury and was thought to be out but he should make it. Interestingly Mihajlovic has confirmed that Manuel Locatelli will start if Montolivo is not ready. It would quite a start to the 18 year old’s career if he does.

After a relatively positive 42 minutes contribution at Atalanta Balotelli has been the subject of more talk and gossip. Galliani has stated that Super Mario wants to extended his Milan stay but hasn’t done enough to deserve it. It seems that he may get his chance as a starter vs Juventus. He would be partnering Bacca of course.

Juventus come to Milan out of the Champions League but on their way to another scudetto and their early season struggles are a very distant memory. They will however be missing Paulo Dybala and his 14 Serie A goals.

Follow the match on the forum.

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