Oct 282018
 

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A defensive, lackluster game in the derby culminated in a last minute loss courtesy of a Mauro Icardi goal. The manner of the game, especially the tame second half and even worse subs, added questions marks for the team right after a few wins in the weeks preceding it had alleviated the pressure. Amid calls for Gattuso’s dismissal and rumblings of a rift between Leonardo and the coach the team hosted Real Betis for Europa League’s third matchday.

The Spanish team almost embarrassed Milan in the first half and the visitor’s Antonio Sanabria could have had more than the lone goal in the first 45 minutes. The subs came at half time and Cutrone and Suso’s arrival in place of Borini and Bakayoko had some but not enough effect. Betis scored again before Cutrone further solidified his claim for a starting spot by scoring the consolation.

With all that has happened in the last week the team is seeking tangible change and it seems Gattuso has realized he should attempt a different formation. The 4-3-3 that isolated and has recently frustrated Higuain looks to be out for week 10 vs Sampdoria. Cutrone seems certain to start with Higuain up front. The midfield will therefore look different. Suso, Kessie, Biglia and Laxalt lead the starting odds. At the back Caldara is still missing in action so Musacchio, Romagnoli, Calabria and Rodriguez will keep their spots.

Sampdoria led by Gregoire Defrel and Fabio Quagliarella sit in the 6th spot with only four goals allowed after nine weeks. The busy fixture list continues unabated as Gattuso and Milan will make up the week 1 postponed game on Halloween. These next two games vs the Genoa teams may decide Gattuso’s fate, but who may come next? Conte? Stay tuned.

Oct 212018
 

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There isn’t much in terms of breaking news as far as on the pitch and injuries go, both teams meeting once again for the derby are relatively healthy with coach’s preferred lineups more or less easy guesses. Of course a Milan derby is anything but predictable and as the cliche goes will throw up the unexpected regardless of form. The 222nd derby will go a long way in setting the mood of the rest of the season as Milan try to get back into the top 4.

Milan’s disappointing start to the season may be behind us, at least we hope. Goal laden wins before the international break vs Chievo, Sassuolo and AEK Athens lifted the optimism, if only somewhat. The additional good news for Milan fans is the capture of Lucas Paqueta, the 21 years old Flamengo midfielder for around €35 million. The player is one of the better Brazilian prospects and his January 2019 arrival is all but official. Leonardo’s Brazilian connections have surely helped in this transfer but the team is still very much under UEFA’s Financial Fair Play watch and will be limited and will require creative accounting moving forward for years to come. There are also whispers about a new stadium but if that indeed happens, as opposed to a very possible prolonged stay at the San Siro, it will not be in the near future.

Back to the game at hand. Milan’s 4-3-3 will be challenged by the 4-2-3-1 often preferred by Inter’s Luciano Spalletti. The Nerazzurri with Mauro Icardi, Radja Nainggolan et al will create problems for Musacchio and Romagnoli and Higuain. Milan need the opportunism of the Argentine forward to beat Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij and Inter. Milan is still struggling in terms of midfield creativity so Suso and Calhanoglu’s movement between the wings and middle of the pitch will go a long way in dictating the outcome of this game. Biglia’s relative good form will of course be as crucial in the middle of the pitch.

 

 

Oct 072018
 

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With whispers that Gattuso’s job is on the line after several lackluster games and points dropped the team responded with two important wins in beating formerly high flying Sassuolo 4-1 away and coming from behind to beat Olympiacos at home 3-1. The manner of the two wins were not overly convincing but provide a glimmer of hope for a team despeprate to make the Champions league places.

The game versus Olympiacos proved that Cutrone is still a very exciting prospect, the injured 20 years old returned and scored twice in less than a half of play. It is rather ironic that a team that features only two real center forwards – Higuain and Cutrone – has no space for the young Italian. The 4-3-3 doesn’t include a place for both, at least on paper. The team also has little quality in the midfield area and 4-3-3 doesn’t always convince.

In somewhat related news to the aforementioned formation and number of center forwards rumours of an Ibra loan return have surfaced. Could the 37 years old make a difference in a six month stint at the San Siro? The answer is probably yes…partly depending on the formation.

For now however the team will remain familiar. Caldara carries an injury and is not available, Calabria is likely to be rested so Donnarumma, Abate, Musacchio, Romagnoli and Laxalt or Rodriguez will be the back line. Kessie, Biglia and Bonaventura will be the middle three with no space for the so far disappointing Bakayoko. Calhanoglu, Higuain and Suso will start while Cutrone and Castillejo battle for time from the bench.

Chievo sit 20th with -1 point and only two ties in seven games and a 3 point deduction for false accounting to create fake profits.

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