Mattia Destro arrives from Roma on an initial 6 month loan. The option to buy him outright is reported to be €15 million for the summer.
Salvatore Bocchetti arrives from Spartak Moscow on a 6 month loan. The central defender or full back who initially left Genoa to Rubin Kazan is back in Italy.
With the crisis around the team growing there was a lot of talk of this being a must win game for Pippo Inzaghi. Whether or not winning a coppa game is a good indicator was almost lost in the build up. Honda was back from a disappointing Asian Cup and available on the bench. Injuries and poor form meant Michelangelo Albertazzi got a very rare start but frustratingly so did Sulley Muntari. The former was responsible for the first goal of the game as he handled the ball and Lazio scored the ensuing penalty. Before the half Lorik Cana got sent off for two yellows and this provided an advantage for Milan in the second half. Pazzini and Cerci each had a goal disallowed on close calls and second half positive subs – including Honda and a debut for Suso – nevertheless didn’t produce enough. What next? More about the game and its possible aftermath in its match thread and on the forum.
The game started well enough with Jeremy Menez taking advantage of a mistake and Dusan Basta lapse of concentration. The Frenchmen did well to surprise and beat Marchetti in the Lazio goal. Not long after the goal Milan started looking the now familiar one. Montolivo had started in the middle of the midfield in a sort of modified de Jong role. The team as a whole but mainly the middle three and back four looked unable to play as an unit. The glimpses of fighting spirit promised in the build up to this game kept the score at 0-1 until half time. Unfortunately early in the second it all collapsed. First a cross was not marked well and Marco Parolo was able to divert the ball in past Diego Lopez, soon after a Montolivo back pass was not collected by Mexes and this allowed Klose to run in and beat Lopez again. Inzaghi didn’t project a very confident figure on the touch line. Towards the end of the game the disaster was complete. Parolo scored again after a mistake filled scramble in the box. Later Mexes reacted very poorly to being fouled by Stefano Mauri, pushed him to the ground and was expelled. Mauri was not completely blameless but with the additional pushes and anger Mexes surely earned himself a few games off. Not that Milan fans would miss him much. As for the coach himself, the calls for him to be sacked had no choice but to get louder.
Much more about the game in the match thread
Suso has arrived a few months earlier than expected. Saponara leaving on loan to Empoli opened a spot on the squad that has now been filled by the Spaniard. Suso signs a 4.5 year contract that runs until summer 2019 and also takes the number 8 shirt worn by Saponara.
The chart above shows how many points each of the team’s listed have and had accumulated at the halfway point of the last three seasons. Milan’s 2014-2015 halfway total, while better than last season (Allegri’s team), is still extremely poor of course. The last three games vs so called small teams have been a disaster which everybody should answer for, including Pippo himself. The one out of nine available points from Sassuolo, Torino and Atalanta probably means another sub par season with more talk than action.
An injured de Sciglio dictated that Bonera start as a left back. The first few minutes were ok but it didn’t take long for mistakes and the now standard lacklustre play to creep its way back. German Denis scored for the visitors as everybody from the midfield to Bonera and Mexes added more evidence that Milan are just not good enough. Minutes later Bonera was taken off for Armero, at the time no one could really tell for sure if Bonera was injured or not. The second half provided evidence of desperation as Pazzini came on for Cerci. Milan dominated the possession but chances and actual signs of tactics were rare. Menez was equally good and bad at times, Bonaventura tried his best to create but it rarely looked like the tying goal was coming. El Shaarawy and Rami each had good headers too. Just before Pippo was sent to the stands by the ref for kicking the ball he also made one last desperate looking sub by bringing on Niang for Montolivo. It was all for nought.
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A near empty San Siro greeted Alessio Cerci’s first Milan start in this round of 16 Coppa Italia match vs Sassuolo. Pazzini combined with the ex-Torino and Atletico man to give Milan the lead. Shortly before half time Sassuolo seemed to have equalized through a set piece (yet another!) but the goal was called off – wrongly? – for offside. Bonera started the second and replaced an apparently injured De Sciglio. The visitors replied through a penalty given for a Zapata foul. Nicola Sansone beat Abbiati to make it 1-1. The Colombian continued his poor form. Late on as the game seemed to be destined for a 90 minute tie Nigel de Jong scored after a Poli crossbar to make it 2-1. Torino or Lazio await in the next round.
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The Sassuolo loss and returning players made for a much changed side. Three changes in defence plus Muntari getting a late start in place of Poli were perhaps predictable but M’Baye Niang getting a very rare start was surprising. The early lead came through a penalty, Menez beat Daniele Padelli in the Torino goal after his shirt was tugged in the area, the penalty was somewhat questionable. In the immediate minutes after goal Torino had two good chances to take the lead and a third chance came after Matteo Darmian caught Montolivo ball watching, ran behind him but could only head against the bar. Niang showed a flash or two of brilliance. The half was also chippy with stray legs and knees soliciting anger on the pitch, sideline and in the stands. As the game neared the end of the half de Sciglio was given for a second yellow for bringing down Darmian. One could argue the bigger offence was in how de Sciglio failed in covering the on rushing player. Abate came on for Niang at the very end of the half.
Carrying a yellow an unhappy Muntari was subbed out for Poli. Milan’s mobility and creativity was near an all time low, there were several instances when an opportunity to counter was wasted by lateral or back passes. Later in the second under constant Torino threat and in a bid to preserve the lead. Menez was withdrawn for Alex. The move was for nought though as Torino equalized moments later when Kamil Glik rose above everybody to head in the far corner. It was yet another set piece goal conceded. All in all an unacceptable performance, even with one man down. Without Diego Lopez it would have been much worse.
More about the game in the forum
Early promise was provided when Poli scrambled through the Sassuolo defence and gave Milan an early lead. There wasn’t much more to say about the first half as the visitors were by far the better team and Milan’s midfield shape was most out of sorts. The team had forced changes with de Jong suspended. The 1-1 half time score could have been considered lucky. The second half wasn’t much better and it was another sleepy and poor defensive moment when Simone Zaza shot well from a Sassuolo corner to make it 1-2. Cerci came on for his debut in a refreshingly positive change – for Essien. After the former Torino man came on Pazzini was also added for El Shaarawy and the game seemed to improve overall but Andrea Consigli in the Sassuolo goal was good when he needed to be. In the end this was the kind of loss a team like Milan can not afford and especially in this manner.
More about the game in the forums