Monthly Archive: August 2015

Week 2 Preview: Milan – Empoli

Milan Empoli

Week 2 and it’s already a must win. Sinisa Mihajlovic claimed during the pre-season that Milan wants to win every game, this is now even more important as the 2015-2016 home opener at Fiorentina soon turned into a debacle. A card happy referee, poor organization and inexperience against a good pressing opposition made for a near disastrous loss.

Empoli provide a lesser opponent. The Tuscan team features ex-Milan player Riccardo Saponara and the aging Massimo Maccarone in attack. A win is crucial following a strange week in the transfer market that featured a surprise return in Mario Balotelli. It is also important to enter the derby, next match day, with three points.

There have been whispers that Mihajlovic is ready to change his preferred 4-3-1-2 in favour of a 4-3-3 but it seems more likely that the formation will remain the same with Cristian Zapata filling for the suspended Rodrigo Ely as he did when the latter got his second yellow last week. Other possible changes from week 1 – according to Gazzetta – are Suso and Nocerino replacing Honda and Bonaventura in the starting lineup. Balotelli, the other newcomer Juraj Kucka and Zaccardo are in the squad but Matri, Mexes and Jose Mauri are not even on the bench.

The match is at 20:45 Milan time on Saturday August 29th.

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Juraj Kucka Joins And Other News

Kucka Milan

Transfer targets and rumoured names have taken a sharp turn in quality in the last week. Names like Ibra, Axel Witsel and Moutinho have given way to others who inspire less confidence. The Fiorentina defeat highlighted a lack of creativity, among other issues. To make a big leap from last season’s 10th place more needs to be done but now this seems unlikely.

Juraj Kucka, 28 year central midfielder, joins from Genoa on a four year contract for a reported €3 million. This is a name that has been rumoured for at least two summers but with the new funds most expected Milan to continue to aim higher this summer. He will add some quality in the central part of the pitch but lots more is needed to close the gap to the likes of Juventus and Roma.

Gabriel Paletta didn’t seem to be in coach Mihajlovic’s plans from the beginning. He seemed to realize it and asked for a way out. He has now joined Atalanta on loan.

The mercato window closes in less than a week. Milan still lacks quality and depth at midfield in particular.

Super Mario Rejoins Milan

Balotelli Milan

A year to the day Mario Balotelli was sold to Liverpool for €20 million he rejoins Milan on a free loan.

Uninterested is only one of the many ways he has been characterized by fans and coaches. In January 2013 after joining Milan from Manchester City for around the same €20 million many predicted or at least hoped he will change his attitude for a team he had said he loves. Eighteen months later his goal tally wasn’t the worst (30 in 54 matches in all competitions) but he just didn’t fit. Whether it be on training ground, the dressing room or just everything in general Berlusconi and Milan made a decision to offload him, Liverpool came calling and Milan didn’t hesitate.

After not convincing, Liverpool started a desperate attempt to find another team for him and in a somewhat surprising move Milan appeared willing. It is said that he met personally with coach Sinisa Mihajlovic on Sunday and the go ahead was given to talk to Liverpool.

Today he has completed his Milan medical, will join on a free loan without a buy out clause and with Milan only paying a portion of his salary. The terms, as reported, say a lot about Liverpool’s view of the player.

Last year we were told the Liverpool move was his last chance. At only 25 is this his new last chance? How does he fit in a team with Luiz Adriano and Carlos Bacca? Stay tuned. FORZA MILAN

Week 1 Preview: Fiorentina – Milan

Milan Fiorentina

A summer that can be termed revolutionary is about to end and a new era is in full swing. A much changed Milan team will start the 2015-2016 Serie A season with higher aims and more money hoping for a swift return to the elite or at least to the European stage. Fiorentina, themselves with a new coach in Paulo Sousa and changes (Mario Suarez and Davide Astori just to name two) provide the opposition on the first match day.

Sinisa Mihajlovic has settled on a 4-3-1-2 and signs in the pre-season have been more positive than not. The Coppa Italia lineup earlier in the week vs Perugia is likely to remain unchanged partly due to Jeremy Menez remaining on the injury list with a back problem. The other major injury is M’Baye Niang who likely will not return to the line up before November.

Diego Lopez hopes to continue to provide man of the match performances and Mihajlovic will start the season depending on youth in defense. Mattia De Sciglio or Ignazio Abate will play along side Alessio Romagnoli, Rodrigo Ely and Luca Antonelli. The quartet’s average age is in the low 20s making them one of the youngest. The midfield three will be relying on Nigel de Jong cleaning up in the center with Andrea Bertolacci and Giacomo Bonaventura on the sides. Riccardo Montolivo’s status is somewhat unanswered, it is unlikely that he remains benched often when healthy. The front two are established. The two big summer buys, Luiz Adriano and Carlos Bacca, only need a settled provider which for now is likely to remain Keisuke Honda. The final days of the transfer window might change this however.

The transfer window will close after two Serie A matches. Empoli will provide the opposition next week.

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Coppa Italia Serves As Season Launch

Milan Perugia

By virtue of having finished poorly and in 10th place last season Milan’s Coppa Italia season starts in August, instead of the more customary January dates where the top 8 Serie A teams join the the competition. Perugia are the opponents in this third round. The Umbria team defeated Reggiana 3-1 to get to this round and features players like Matteo Ardemagni, a former Milan primavera player, and Rodrigo Taddei, the former long time Roma player.

Sinisa Mihajlovic has said that he wants to field a strong team that fights for every match and also plans to start both Ely and Romagnoli in the center of defense. Menez is returning from an injury layoff and may get a few minutes. Milan are still searching for a player that would fit well behind the starting two forwards and Menez may be option besides the others tried already. Honda, Suso and Bonaventura are options but the team probably needs to find a better creative player for the 1 spot in the 4-3-1-2 formation.

The match was originally set for August 15th but it was set back and it is set for 9PM Milan time on August 17, 2015.

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Alessio Romagnoli Joins Milan

After a long and on going transfer saga Alessio Romagnoli has completed his medical and joins from Roma for €25 million. It is thought that the fee paid to Roma may NOT include bonuses but only a future percentage if Milan were to sell Romagnoli in the future.

He spent last season on loan at Sampdoria with current Milan coach Mihajlovic, it seems the coach’s advice and trust of the young 20 year old defender convinced Galliani to push Roma’s Walter Sabatini to sell.

His Milan contract is for five years and is between €1.5 and €2 million a season net.

It is also thought that Milan will continue to try to offload Zaccardo and one other defender, possibly Paletta. Simone Verdi and Michael Agazzi are also on the way out, if a buyer can be found.