May 202018
 

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The season that was to be a big renewal and success with a newly launched era is coming to a disappointing end. Qualifying for the Europa League after spending more than €200 million courtesy of new owner, Yonghong Li, and new management must and is to be deemed a failure. A season that had twists and more disappointments than not and featured a coaching change finishes vs Fiorentina. There is a lot that can be written about the 2018-2019 season and there will be repercussions – internally and externally via possible UEFA financial fair play sanctions – for its relative poor results as well, but week 38 provides a chance at an uplifting finale and ensuring the Europa League spot.

Suso will miss this game with a muscle problem and this will push Gattuso to tweak the line up somewhat. The Spaniard is a possible candidate for a summer exit despite repeatedly showing his admiration for Milan. A €40 million release clause could make him an easy target for Liverpool and others. Kalinic and Cutrone look to play up front with Calhanoglu behind them for a 4-3-1-2 formation. The midfield and the back line remain somewhat predictable, the only expected change is Locatelli once again starting. Biglia is not 100% having recently returned from a back problem that was due to keep him out longer. Calabria, Rodriguez will start at right back and left back along Bonucci, Romagnoli and Donnarumma. Antonelli may also feature because this may be his last game as a Milan player.

Fiorentina are finishing off a relative poor season as well. A difficult sesaon that has the team, as with others around Italy and the world mourning the loss of Davide Astori. The Tuscan team’s training grounds are to be renamed after their captain in his memory.

May 132018
 

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Week 36 gave us all a rare easy win. Beating 19th placed Verona 4-1 – and in the process condemning them to Serie B football for 2018-2019 – was not automatic considering that this Milan had lost to Benevento weeks earlier, one was entitled to be pessimistic. Calhanoglu scored the opener and has been regaining some of the form many wish to see more often. Abate scored a nice and very rare goal as well, even Borini got into the act. The rise in fortunes didn’t last long though.

Midweek was the Coppa Final vs Juventus and the small amount of optimism of four days earlier evaporated rather quickly. Aided by the referee, who for example blew for half time instead of allowing a Milan free kick to proceed, Milan crumbled once again. Donnarumma didn’t catch the ball for one goal and pretty much dropped the ball for another to come out of the game with most of the blame. Juventus won the second half thoroughly after Milan had an ok first half where a few half chances were squandered. The 4-0 loss had most in disbelief and anger levels towards all of players and management rose again. The upcoming summer test for the management and indeed the ownership is as high as last year. Such has Milan fallen (again) that a win vs Atalanta is required to earn a chance at Europa League football next season.

The team must approach the Atalanta game as crucial and not perpetuate the seemingly eternal weak mentality issue. Gattuso is already eying the summer transfer market and has mentioned the need for depth and quality.

The likelihood that Gattuso will use Kalinic again seems real and therefore fans are entitled to wonder if Gattuso should even be the coach next season. Other spots on the 4-3-3 are somewhat stable with the only real rotation being Abate or Calabria. A veteran line up seems to be the choice for the last two matches of the season. The veteran lineup will include Biglia who recovered from a back problem much quicker than anticipated and announced.

May 052018
 

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As the disappointing season winds down the feeling is that the uncertainty around the ownership and money available will stretch deep into the summer and beyond. Fassone and Mirabelli, the latter not entirely safe in his job, are still talking as if all be will be well. Besides real money the Financial Fair Play threat that hangs over Milan as well is a concern as well. The 200 million plus spent last year has not gotten Milan into the Champions League and there will be repercussions whether it be moving forward or in UEFA’s eyes.

Verona visit Milan after Milan were able to beat Bologna away 2-1. The week 35 game could have and should have been won by a wider margin but such as it is Milan have struggled to score therefore  forwards will be on the summer transfer agenda. The midfield creativity needs attention as well and it remains to be seen if it will be addressed.

Locatelli started the week 35 game in place of the injured Biglia. He will likely continue to do so for the rest of the season. The lineup is unlikely to change much for the last three games. Calhanoglu and Suso will flank Cutrone. Kessie and Bonaventura will do the same around Locatelli. Romagnoli seems to be ready for a return from injury, if not Zapata or Musacchio will partner Bonucci. Calabria or Abate seems to be most uncertainty for the starting 11. There are whispers that the latter might leave for the MLS in the summer. Next season could feature Conti and Calabria on the right and Rodriguez and Ivan Strinic – the rumored free signing from Sampdoria – on the left. There is also the Pepe Reina replacing Donnarumma possibility. For now though Verona visit the San Siro before the Coppa Italia final vs Juventus in the coming midweek.

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