Oct 252016

Genoa Milan

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The 1-0 win vs Juventus is only 3 days old when this young team of average age around 25 has to play another important game. The wonder goal and and the three points tightened the race and the standings and has Milan only two points behind Juventus and first place. Locatelli, Donnarumma and others need to control their emotions and hype and remain disciplined. The veterans have to do the same, for example Poli who came on as a sub in the Juve game, seemed close to getting himself sent off in the short minutes he played.

Being a midweek game squad rotation is also important. Montella needs to balance the winning momentum with player management and decide who plays. Indications are that changes will be minimal and Honda may get a chance in Suso’s spot, as might Poli at fullback in Abate’s place. Calabria and Antonelli are still not available and of course Poli has played at right back before. In Suso’s case, he has played almost all minutes so far this season and is a good candidate for rotation. Zapata is back in the squad but will of course remain on the bench. Romagnoli and Paletta have done well and will keep their place.

Genoa are 12th and are coming off a derby loss to Sampdoria.

Oct 222016

Milan Juventus

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With the good result away to Chievo Milan now sit third in Serie A, level on points for second place, behind Roma. To be in third place is a good achievement and of course it is hoped the progress continues and is bolstered with new owners. Montella must take a good deal of the credit for these signs of hope and what looks to be greater metal strength. As Milan continue to be one of the younger teams, and now even younger with Locatelli a starter things are looking up.

Niang is one of those who has shown those signs of progress and his value to the team is being recognized. He will start alongside Bacca and Suso. Lapadula worked hard but missed chances in his start vs Chievo and will return to the bench. Montella will keep the same midfield trio and hope for continued improvement from Bonaventura in particular. In defence Antonelli and now Calabria will be absent so Abate and De Sciglio will continue to start. Paletta and Romagnoli have their places secured but Zapata has returned to training after a long absence.

In goal this is another chapter in the battle of veteran vs future in Gianluigi Buffon vs Donnarumma.

Juventus’ Medhi Benatia will continue to deputize for the absent Giorgio Chiellini. First placed Juventus are coming off a 1-0 away win at Lyon in the champions league and will have some other notable absentees in Mario Mandzukic and Marko Pjaca.

In the larger context a good result in this game will strengthen team morale and will mean more than any number of points in the table.


Oct 162016

Chievo Milan

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The eventful and come back win vs Sassuolo may be a turning point of the season, however the number of goals allowed have to improve for the rise in the standings to remain sustainable. The week 7 4-3 win which featured Luiz Adriano starting in place of the expected Niang changed when the latter reclaimed his spot. Bonaventura’s low long distance shot had given a good start but almost immediately after the goal an atrocious Abate mistake derailed the game and eventually Milan fell behind 1-3, to later see Abate get the captain’s arm band after Montolivo was substituted made it look even worse. Eventually a Locatelli screamer and an excellent Paletta header were highlights and produced a much desired win.

Now that Montolivo is ruled out long term after damaging knee ligaments on international duty the central midfield role falls to either Locatelli or Sosa. The former seems to be preferred at least for now. There is also late word that Lapadula will start in Bacca’s place to give the Colombian time to recuperate after a tough South American journey with his national team. The rest of the starters are likely to remain predictable with Romagnoli returning after missing out vs Sassuolo.

Chievo featuring Valter Birsa in a playmaking role have started the season well and sit above Milan on goal difference.


Oct 122016

As the sale moves or crawls forward towards a possible closing in mid November a lot is of course happening behind the scenes.

Li Yonghong

Every few days there is a whisper that the ownership group is unknown or that no one knows who is putting the money forward. It might be easy to distrust Berlusconi but this is a man who months ago declared he is entrusting the team in good hands, it seems almost outlandish that he or at least the top brass at Fininvest have no idea who is bringing the cash. As it is equally unlikely Fininvest were tricked or cheated with fake bank papers, another summer rumour.

More recently and after the Chinese, officially the Sino-Europe Sports Investment Management Changxing Co Ltd, appointed ex Juventus and Inter director Marco Fassone as CEO a few Milan legends began to question the new set up. The other appointee, Massimo Mirabelli, the now officially sporting director and formerly a chief scout at Inter raised additional concerns. Then began talk that the new ownership want to entice at least one Milan legend with an ‘important’ role in the new era. Demetrio Albertini was one obvious choice. The former player who left Milan to Atletico Madrid in less than best terms back in 2002 has had some experience at the Italian Football Federation and ran unsuccessfully for its leadership in 2014. Fassone was said to be talking to Alessandro Costacurta and Massimo Ambrosini too. Albertini seemed to be tapping into fan and former players concerns when he used his twitter account to take a shot at Inter, almost simultaneously talks with those former legends seemed to be going nowhere with more whispers that Paolo Maldini, too, will refuse offers unless he sees clear plans.

Albertini's Twitter

Albertini And Others React To New Management?

As time moved forward rumours of former player discontent seemed to rule them out one by one and this culminated on the 11th of October when Maldini released a statement via facebook and officially refused to join the new management team. He cited a lack of certainty, ambiguous ownership structure and unclear hierarchy between himself, Fassone and Mirabelli as reasons.

It is disappointing to see public noise by former players and legends, one can’t help wonder why they have been so public about the process. It is conceivable that all the talk could be more private and only the final decision made public. It may also be prudent to not publicly undermine this new era this early in its evolution. Of course this is coming out of deep affection for the team but that love needs to give the new management time too. Some players keep insisting that they “can’t imagine a Milan with Berlusconi”, this list most recently includes Gianluca Zambrotta, Serginho and Rui Costa, but they must imagine it, it is that same man that has insisted on leaving the team in more capable hands. It may also be better if players like Maldini do join the new set up and help influence it and make it succeed even if there isn’t the clearest of plans at the very beginning, now.

In the meanwhile the closing is at the very least one month away and before then the ownership group needs to travel to Milan to meet and formalize remaining issues and show themselves too. But before long focus must shift to the pitch and squad enforcements, those include finding a Montolivo replacement. The midfielder damaged his knee ligaments playing for the Azzurri and will not be available until very late in the season. Montella will look internally and Sosa or Locatelli will remain in the running for the central midfield role deep into the January transfer window.

Oct 022016

Milan Sassuolo

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The week six tie away at Fiorentina featured Calabria and De Sciglio as full backs, the majority consensus was that both struggled to some degree and Fiorentina were able to exploit width to their advantage. The end result however was a 0-0 tie and the game showed signs of promise as well. In another sign of progress the tie was the third clean sheet in a row.

Despite coming on as a substitute Antonelli is back on the injury list but Abate is likelier to reclaim his lost spot from Calabria with De Sciglio starting on the left again.

Sassuolo’s injury problems are bigger with Domenico Berardi and Stefano Sensi among those set to miss out, Alessandro Matri might not be able to start as well.

The forward line is likely to remain  unchanged with Niang, Bacca and Suso playing in front of Boneaventura, Montolivo and Kucka.

Another solid outing would go a long way towards what is hoped to be the closing of the sale next month. Galliani has once again implied as much, speaking late in the week he has said that everything ends.

Sep 252016

Fiorentina Milan

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Week five threatened to be a poor one but ended being probably the best game of the young season. The on and off possibility of Montolivo losing his spot and other areas of the team like Abate needing to be better defensively dominated the build up but the 2-0 win vs Lazio was solid and included good performances from the midfield, with one noteworthy being Kucka. Bacca finished his run from the center circle well and scored and Niang took the penalty coolly for a much needed clean sheet.

Week six presents an arguably bigger challenge as Fiorentina will be tough to beat at the Artemio Franchi. Milan Badelj, often linked to Milan in recent months has been doing well and Fiorentina haven’t lost at home yet.

Little change is expected in the Milan line up. Donnarumma is of course in goal and the major talking point will be the full backs. Calabria and De Sciglio will likely be starters at the expense of Abate and Antonelli. Montolivo, Kucka and Bonaventura will start behind Niang, Bacca and Suso. Locatelli will likely get a few minutes and looks to be growing into a solid central midfielder.

The bigger news during the buildup has once again been about the sale. Reports surfaced that at least two bank documents submitted to Fininvest in the Spring may have been fake. This has been denied but doubts have resurfaced. It is hoped, and indeed was restated alongside the denials, that the closing of the deal is still slated for November.

Sep 202016

Milan Lazio

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Week five arrives quickly on the heels of the week four win at Sampdoria. The lackluster and mediocre game at the Luigi Ferraris was turned into a win by a good Bacca finish. The same Bacca that had been dropped from the starting line up in favour of Lapadula. The official reason for Bacca not starting was rest but rumours before the match claimed a rift between the Colombian and Montella. Having been responsible for the win, courtesy of a good Suso assist, Bacca is sure to reclaim his spot for week five.

Meanwhile two other rightfully criticized players are on the verge of losing their starting spot, again. Abate started against Sampdoria at least in part due to both De Sciglio and Antonelli being out injured. Now that De Sciglio is back it seems very likely that Abate drops out. Locatelli came on as a sub at Sampdoria but not for Montolivo, Sosa was withdrawn instead. The word has been that Locatelli will now start as regista in Montolivo’s spot but it is just as likely that the oft maligned captain retains his spot for at least one more match. Bonaventura on the other hand, may be rested and the midfield looks to feature Sosa and Kucka, the latter having finished serving his two game suspension.

Up front Bacca will be flanked by Niang and Suso.

Ciro Immobile and Lazio come off a 3-0 vs Pescara and sit in 4th position after four games

Sep 162016

Sampdoria Milan

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A rare Friday evening match follows after yet another disappointing result. The week 3 0-1 loss at home to Udinese provided another stark reminder that Milan needs a reset and a clear out urgently. The inability to play well and without fear for a full game needs to be fixed but it seems that the message is slow to get through to the coaching staff.

Two players in particular have been clearly responsible for the very poor start to the 2016-2017 season and yet they are the veterans who sometimes seem untouchable. Abate and Montolivo do not deserve to remain starters but despite Montella almost acknowledging it during the week they are both still likely starters. Abate starting versus Sampdoria may be understandable as De Sciglio is not ready and Antonelli only just escaped serious neck injury versus Udinese. Calabria and Abate are needed and will likely start on the sides of Paletta and Romagnoli, themselves not exactly having great starts.

If Montolivo does start it is anything but deserved and in fact shows weakness on the part of Montella, the midfielder has been a liability for a while now and should have no place, especially now that Sosa and Palisic are “vice Montolivos”. Niang’s return from suspension should push Bonaventura back to midfield and have him start with Sosa on the other side.

There has been late word that Lapadula will start in place of Bacca, in either case Suso will complete the front three.

Sampdoria have taken six out of nine points to start the season and narrowly lost for the first time at Roma last weekend.

Sep 112016

Milan Udinese

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The international break provided time to digest the undisciplined mess that was the 4-2 loss at Napoli. Milan started well but collapsed after two relatively quick goals by Arkadiusz Milik. The Polish international, newly arrived at Napoli, somewhat uncharacteristically took and finished his chances. Niang and Suso did well to level the score back inside 55 minutes but the rest of the game and second half were a rather spectacular failure with Niang and Kucka getting reds too.

The latter two players are of course missing, new signee Mati Fernandez is injured and Bertolacci is not available yet. Reportedly Montella briefly toyed with the idea of using a 4-4-2 with Bacca and Lapadula or Adriano up front but indications are the 4-3-3 will remain and forced by absentees will feature Boanventura, Bacca and Suso up front and Poli, Montolivo and Sosa behind them in midfield. There is very little to inspire about this midfield trio. Perhaps Pasalic will get the chance to play a few minutes and showcase his talent. The defense, also somewhat disappointing so far, should feature Romagnoli and Paletta flanked by De Sciglio and Abate.

Udinese, possibly featuring Pablo Armero, are coming off beating Empoli 2-0 before the international break.

Aug 312016

Mati Fernandez

A transfer deadline day that featured many rumours as usual but many unlikely and outlandish ones like Cesc Fabregas, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere ended with a player long requested by Montella.

Mati Fernandez, the 30 years old Argentina born Chilean attacking midfielder, snubbed Cagliari and accepted a move to Milan. He join on initial loan with an option to buy. The option is said to be a low fee. Montella was the player’s coach while at Fiorentina.

He joins a Milan midfield in desperate need of creativity and skill, however the same midfield is now crowded with Montolivo, Kucka, Bertolacci, Sosa, Poli, Honda, Bonaventura, Pasalic and Locatelli vying for playing time.

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