Mar 182017
 

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Week 28 proved controversial, almost as expected. Playing against Juventus has always meant to provide moments that will equally enrage and disappoint every opponent. The last second penalty that gave the win to Juventus has almost universally been judged to have been the wrong call. The cross that hit De Sciglio’s hand has not been a penalty decision in a normally officiated game in years, the distance from the attacker’s feet to the hand of the defender was calculated to be less than two meters and the hand was not stretched out to any great measure. At the end of the day anger and player protests after the penalty have meant that Bacca and Sosa are suspended for this Genoa match, the former for protesting after the whistle and the latter for getting a second yellow.  They are joined by Romagnoli who got a yellow earlier in the match and is suspended too.

To add insult to injury Suso remains injured. He missed the Juventus match after seemingly being ready in the build up to last Friday’s match but is now due to miss at least two more week due to a muscular injury. Abate has not been called up but the report is that his eye problem is now fine and he should be back after the upcoming international break.

There was very worrying news on the team sale front as the third and promised €100 million has not arrived. Reports of Chinese government efforts to halt large scale capital exit from China has the potential to bury this deal altogether. Another extension is unlikely and it now seems that Fininvest and Berlusconi, however unwillingly, may hang on to the team.

Genoa travel to the San Siro with Adel Taarabt as a likely starter. The Liguria team have been sliding down the standings and have won only once in the last 10 games.

The lineup for this match will look different than the best possible, by necessity of course. Lapadula is to take Bacca’s spot with Ocampos and Deulofeu flanking him. Montella has a decision to make as to who to use in midfield and with Locatelli not exactly an automatic starter, still for unknown reasons, the coach seems likely to use Bertolacci in the middle. Beyond that any two of  Pasalic, Mati Fernandez and Kucka will start around him.  Back in defense Vangioni may get another start with Paletta, Zapata and De Sciglio lining up to his right. The hope is that the players available for this match will channel the anger from the Juventus match into a positive and grab three points to stay in touch with the European places. Donnarumma kissing the Milan badge at the end of the match in Turin gives us hope that the commitment to the team will compensate for some of the missing talent.

Mar 102017
 

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Week 27 saw Milan take the team’s undefeated streak to five games. Just as importantly the 3-1 vs Chievo was the first of the streak where the margin was more than one goal. Bacca scoring a brace from open play – and having other chances – contributed to the relative bigger score and the Colombian’s return to goal scoring form would be very welcome of course. The concern post game was Suso’s injury, the Spaniard came off injured in the first half and was replaced with Ocampos. Refereeing was typically poor and Bacca missed one of the penalties awarded to Milan, Lapadula converted the second to seal the win late.

Week 28 is away to league leaders Juventus, the Turin team only managed a tie (1-1 at Udinese) last week and might be distracted with their upcoming Champions League game vs Porto. They are also missing Juan Cuadrado (suspension) and Giorgio Chiellini (injury).

The defense looks set to be different again as Abate and Antonelli are still out injured and Vangioni not really trusted. Reports suggest Montella will try Romagnoli as left back with Paletta and Zapata in the middle and De Sciglio on their right side. The midfield is likely to feature Bertolacci, Sosa and Pasalic with both Locatelli and Kucka somewhat surprisingly starting on the bench. To the relief of virtually every Milan fan Suso returned to normal training during the week and was thought to be ready to play alongside Bacca and Deulofeu, but latest is that Ocampos will get the start.

The uncertainty off the pitch continues unabated with glimmers of good news about the sale and closing keeping hopes barely alive. The ‘latest’ closing date is said to be late March and needs to be preceded by another €100 million deposit. That would take the total deposit paid to €300 million, surely an unbelievable amount to pay for just a deposit. No one can say for sure what will happen next, time will tell.

Mar 042017
 

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Milan scraped through another narrow win and beat Sassuolo 1-0 in week 26. Bacca converted a penalty not long after Domenico Berardi missed his own. For once Berardi didn’t score against Milan and Milan got another much needed three points. The bigger news of the week has not been about anything happening on the pitch however, more on that below.

The injury situation has alleviated somewhat with De Sciglio and Romagnoli back to the fold for this Chievo match. Abate, with an eye injury is out of the running for at least one week. Paletta or Zapata will start alongside the Romagnoli with De Sciglio and Vangioni the full backs. In midfield Locatelli’s short exile to the bench is set to end. The teenager is set to get his first start in nearly one month. Sosa retains his spot but as a mezzala with Bertolacci the other midfielder. Up front Bacca, Suso and Deulofeu will once again needed to provide the goals.

As mentioned above the big news of the week concerned the 800 days and counting team sale saga. At the beginning of the week all seemed a go, finally the sale closing was within sight. The money transfer and the news conference including flown in journalists were all set for a final signing off before this Chievo match, but things unraveled quickly. News and rumours of an investor, possibly China Construction Bank, withdrawing came through and uncertainty took over. Sino-Europe Sports led by Yonghong Li now lacked funds and the already existing doubts kept growing and no one was sure what would happen. News that Berlusconi would pull the plug completely was countered by the possibility of a new deadline and/or deal that would be agreed to if another €100 million was paid in seven days. Most on the outside, including fans, had and have found it hard to believe that the €200 million paid already would come to nothing and hoped for a miracle of sorts. Sino-Europe Sports’ lack of transparency had always made this deal one to be unsure of and now more than ever few actually believe that the Chinese deal would be a good option for Milan’s future, if the deal is still possible at all. Can Berlusconi look for and find another group now? Can Nicholas Gancikoff, involved in the take over deal until last summer, make another come back? If Fininvest and Berlusconi do keep the team what will the team look like in a year or later? Milan is at a crisis point off the pitch while it collects points on the pitch.

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