Feb 192017
 

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In retrospect the week 24 1-1 tie at Lazio was not the worst result possible. Having to play with 3 out of 4 regular defenders missing and not allowing a goal from open play should be acceptable – Lazio’s only goal came when Biglia converted a penalty after Donnarumma was judged to have brought down Ciro Immobile. Suso salvaged a late point when it again looked unlikely.

The full back injury situation was and is not helping and will affect this week 25 match as well. Antonelli and De Sciglio are still a week or two away from action but Calabria is back in the squad. Romagnoli is still out but Paletta is back from yet another and now seemingly continual red card suspension. News is that middle three will be led by Sosa and not Locatelli, the teenager was surprisingly subbed early vs Lazio and Montella seems to want to use Sosa more. The reasons for this is not very obvious but Locatelli does shows signs of inexperience. Bertolacci and Kucka are the likely starters and in front of them Bacca will once again start. For the Lazio match Montella opted for the so called false 9 formation with no recognized strikers in the line up. Deulofeu played with Suso and Ocampos but the experiment is unlikely to survive.

If all goes as planned or rumoured this could the last home match of the Berlusconi era as the Chinese may close the sale before Chievo visit the San Siro in two weeks. Time will tell.

Feb 132017
 

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The match at Bologna proved one of the more bizarre in memory. To start, the fullback injury situation meant Vangioni got a start. The match itself was mix of poor judgment and poor refereeing. Paletta and later in the second half Kucka got themselves sent off with virtually every foul a yellow courtesy of ref Daniele Doveri. Milan having had started dominantly the first 10 minutes faded quickly due in part to the expulsions. Down to nine men Milan’s substitutions started to look odd on paper with, for example, Gomez coming on for Locatelli. To add to the troubles Romagnoli injured himself in the first half – he will be out for an as of yet undetermined period – and later with all subs used a hard working Poli, himself a sub, had to remain on the pitch after a knock. Finally, with two minutes remaining and to the surprise of most watching Deulofeu dribbled his way into the Bologna zone and cut inside to the rushing Pasalic who scored relatively easily. The 1-0 win will enter the record books as one of the most unlikely.

The injury situation plus the suspensions make for a much weakened team for this Lazio match. Romagnoli, Paletta, De Sciglio, Antonelli, Calabria and Bonaventura are unavailable. The defensive line is therefore at best unreliable. The  aforementioned Vangioni will line up with Zapata, Gomez and Abate. Poli or Bertolacci will line up with Locatelli and Pasalic in midfield. Bacca is due a bench spot because his production has been anything but satisfactory, one can even question his work rate. While Montella apparently considered using Deulofeu as a false 9 in middle of Suso and Ocampos it is Lapadula who is expected to play with Suso and Deulofeu.

Feb 082017
 

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This match was originally scheduled for the same week as the supercoppa and it is being played on February 8th instead. That same supercoppa win versus Juventus is now close to a distant memory and it is very much going to be the highlight of the season. The team has struggled since and even fallen out of the European spots in the Serie A standings.

The latest set back came against Sampdoria, the injury riddled squad forced Montella into somewhat creative changes with Kucka lining up as right back – though he was in reality playing as a right midfield. The 0-1 end result was both unlucky and poor.

Abate and Calabria are near fit and the line up will look more normal versus Bologna. Meeting a team that was crushed 1-7 (versus Napoli) during the weekend makes this a required win. The central defenders will remain Paletta and Romagnoli. Locatelli was always likely to return to the starting line up and in any event Sosa received two yellows versus Sampdoria and is not available. Pasalic and Kucka are set to be the other midfielders. Bacca, who once again showed angered at getting subbed, will start in between Suso and Deulofeu to retain the usual 4-3-3.

We may be approaching the conclusion of the Chinese takeover saga with more reports that the deal will close before long. The future may just be brighter but this season may end just as poorly as recent ones, on paper at least.

Feb 052017
 

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It is safe to say 2017 hasn’t started well for Milan. The team hasn’t won a game in over three weeks in a year only five weeks old. The dreams of finishing top three – or even that optimistic talk of top two – are rapidly fading.

The team is also suffering its first injury crisis in a long time. The injury issue has affected the full back situation most of all but has also hit the creative heart of the team.

De Sciglio will miss around a month after injuring himself versus Udinese. Antonelli, Abate and Calabria are fighting knocks and only the latter has a chance of making it for this Sampdoria match. That leaves the team with only one recognized full back in Vangioni. Vangioni has barely played of course and is well on his way to being on the list of worst Galliani signings ever. His fitness and/or lack of suitability is made even more stark when one sees that he is unlikely to start even in this situation. There is some tactical reasons for it, Sampdoria play with two center forwards in Muriel and Fabio Quagliarella, but Montella is contemplating using three central defenders in lieu of using Vangioni. If that is the case Romagnoli will get to play as a left defender/left back with Paletta and Zapata beside him. The whole back four situation has also turned into somewhat of a farce with the attempt to entice Martin Caceres to Milan. The Uruguayan is without a team and has passed a medical but is yet to agree on a contract. The need for a full back is urgent but it seems that Caceres will not be able to see action soon enough to be of help when needed most. He is therefore likely be another surplus signing if he is added to the team later instead of now.

The team will be missing Bonaventura the most, he is out for the rest of the season after injuring his abductor muscle and requiring surgery. Kucka, Bertolacci and Pasalic will be in the midfield and somewhat controversially it is said that Locatelli will be benched in favor of Sosa. Locatelli made a crucial mistake in the lead up to Udinese’s first goal last week and that came after getting sent off against Juventus days earlier. With talent and age firmly on his side he will surely return to the starting line up next week against Lazio. Up front the absence of Bonaventura will be filled with Deulofeu or possibly the latest Milan player Ocampos. The Argentina winger arrived at the deadline on loan from Marseille, via Genoa.

Jan 292017
 

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A relatively eventful week included Milan exiting the Coppa Italia after a 2-1 loss to Juventus. The game had Milan falling behind 2-0 again and failing to recover, again. The game was not always a high quality one and the foul ridden game featured nine yellows, two of which were shown to Locatelli.

In transfer news Niang’s loan exit was confirmed and he will spend half a season at Watford and is more likely than not to return.

Milan, now free to concentrate on the league, travel to Udine next. Udinese enjoyed period of good form in December but have now lost three in a row in January.

Milan’s lineup is expected to be predictable with a slight possibility that Deulofeu starts. The Spaniard made a good impression on his debut, coming in as a sub vs Juventus but is very likely to remain a sub for now. Bonaventura, Bacca and Suso will be front line starters until either Suso needs a rest or Bonaventura is pushed back to midfield. Bertolacci, Locatelli and Kucka will start in front of De Sciglio, Romagnoli, Paletta, Abate and Donnarumma to complete an expected 11.

Jan 252017
 

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Hot on the heels of beating Torino in the coppa Italia Milan travel to Juventus stadium for the coppa quarter finals. This game is also not too long after beating Juventus in the supercoppa in late December. A mark of the progress made under Montella’s coaching is that this game represents a chance to beat the league leaders and reigning coppa and Serie A champions for the third time this season,

The team looks slightly different from a few days ago. Niang has been completely dropped from the squad amid rumours of a loan to Genoa (in exchange for Lucas Ocampos?) or a move to the English Premier League. It has been reported that the French player rejected any loans and may yet remain with Milan, for now at least, if a good EPL offer doesn’t arrive. In Niang’s spot comes Gerard Deulofeu on loan (with no option as of yet) from Everton. The Spaniard has been called up for this coppa match and may yet feature in it. If Deulofeu does play Bonaventura will reclaim his spot in midfield behind the 22 year old. While Deulofeu is best known as a right winger it is surely unlikely that a short term loan is negotiated and pushed through solely for finding a back up for Suso. Therefore the front line may be the trio of Deulofeu on the left with Bacca and Suso and Bonaventura, Locatelli and Pasalic behind them. Romagnoli and Paletta should be reunited at the back with De Sciglio and Abate as full backs.

Juventus are missing three important players in Gigi Buffon, Claudio Marchisio and Patrice Evra.

Jan 212017
 

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For the second game in a row, versus the same team, Milan fell behind with a poor and not good enough first half. Week 20 had Milan fall behind 0-2 at Torino – and almost 0-3 if Adem Ljajic hadn’t missed the penalty. But much the same as the previous Thursday’s Coppa match Milan overcame the first half sleepiness and scored twice to salvage something, but one point instead of three this time.

The game had two victims however, and their absence will change the nature of the week 21 match versus Napoli. Locatelli was a yellow away form suspension and got himself suspended for Napoli. Romagnoli, in one of his poorest matches in memory, was expelled for two yellows and misses Napoli too. Gomez will start in his now customary back up role, but midfield is a bit more complicated. Will Montella use Bertolacci in the middle and surround him with two of Kucka, Pasalic and Sosa or use Sosa in the middle and use two of the others?

Up front Bonaventura has pushed Niang to the bench and there are also signs that the Frenchman is transfer bound. Several EPL teams may be interested. A transfer seems more likely with the now strong possibility of Gerard Deulofeu arriving on loan from Everton.

Abate and Calabria will be the full backs as De Sciglio and Antonelli are not ready, though the latter is back with the squad after missing the last 2 weeks.

Napoli are in good form (WWDWW in last 5) and come into this match with players like Dries Mertens on fire.

Jan 162017
 

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Less than 96 hours after defeating Torino at the San Siro to reach the Coppa Italia quarter finals the two teams meet again in Serie A. The first half of the Coppa match last Thursday was an exhibition in tiredness, Bonaventura exemplified it in looking like an old man vs Torino. Almost inevitably Torino took the lead with a well taken goal by this season’s much talked about player Andrea Belotti. The second half started slowly but Milan seemed to wake up and find another gear, eventually the aforementioned Bonaventura scored the winning goal shortly after Kucka had equalized.

The more regular starters are sure to be back for this match. Locatelli will reclaim his spot from Sosa and Bacca will start instead of Lapadula.

Elsewhere Romagnoli is back after illness but De Sciglio looks to have joined Antonelli on the sidelines. Calabria and Abate, himself substituted due to injury in the Coppa match, will be the full backs. Since the midfield will be the trio of Kucka and Bertolacci and of course Locatelli the forward three will likely be Boanventura and Suso around Bacca. Arguably Bonaventura needs rest the most but Niang will remain on the bench. The Frenchman’s stock has fallen in recent weeks and there are a few whispers, however unlikely, that he may be sold this January.

The rivals for the European spots have been doing well recently, including Fiorentina beating Juventus on Sunday, and the team has slipped to sixth – with a game in hand on everybody except Juventus –  so points and wins matter even more now. The coming weeks will be another test for this young team. Forza Milan.

Jan 122017
 

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The 2016-2017 Coppa Italia has Milan joining the tournament and meeting Torino, who beat Pisa in the previous round, in the last sixteen. This game comes just days before a league meeting the two teams as well.

There will be some changes for this match, it is likely that a few of the bench and returning players get to start. Sosa, Bertolacci and Calabria are the names that might get a taste of action. There was also a brief thought that 16 year old Alessandro Plizzari might get his Milan debut in goal but that is not too likely, Donnarumma looks to keep his place and now that there is a backup in Storari there is some added experience in the goalkeeping trio to help the two teenagers. Romagnoli is battling the flu and it is thought that Gomez will start alongside Paletta. Lapadula looks to start as well and Bonaventura will probably move forward to Niang’s spot.

Torino have quietly strengthened and added depth and now feature Juan Iturbe too. He will be part of a front line that features Adem Ljajic and one of the biggest stories of the season, Andrea Belotti. The latter has scored 13 goals so far in the Serie A alone and is a subject of big transfer rumours, he may not be a Torino player for too much longer.

The winner of this round gets Juventus in the quarter finals, so both teams have an extra incentive to book a date with the reigning champions.

 

Jan 082017
 

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The shootout Supercoppa win versus Juventus at the end of 2016 added an element of optimism to the season and a renewed hope for the youth set up that has of course yielded stars and stars in the making like Donnarumma and Locatelli. The on going Chinese take over saga may come to a positive conclusion (early) in 2017 and any doubts erased soon after but as of January 2017 and its transfer window it is still all speculation and dreams of big spending remain only hopes.

Cagliari featuring Marco Borriello present the first 2017 challenge. Beside Montolivo, the long term absentee, the team is relatively healthy and Mati Fernandez is the only other player missing as Calabria, is back in the squad but unlikely to feature in this game. However, late in the week Kucka suffered a knock and joined the injured list.

Early in the week the thought was that Locatelli might be rested or saved because he is one yellow card away from suspension but news is that he will indeed start and Bertolacci remain on the bench. Locatelli will be joined in midfield by Bonaventura and Pasalic. The front three will be the familiar Niang, Bacca and Suso trio. The defense will also be very familiar and the usual quartet of De Sciglio, Romagnoli, Paletta and Abate are likely starters in front of Donnarumma.

Transfer activity will likely remain underwhelming if not non existent this January but hope springs eternal for the summer with names like Keita Balde, Domenico Berardi and Federico Bernardeschi mentioned. In the meanwhile the target is to qualify for Europe and gain valuable experience on the way.

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