The loss versus Sassuolo has really brought the threat of missing the top 4 and Champions League places to the fore. Milan’s 2021 form has been inconsistent at best and yet somehow second place has been retained for some weeks. The equally inconsistent Juventus, the free scoring Atalanta, Gattuso’s Napoli and week 33 opponents Lazio are all close and one bad result could drop Milan to fifth.
Injuries and Pioli himself have had their part to play in this poor 2021 calendar year. The trademark coaching stubbornness of giving minutes to the likes of Krunic and Castillejo minutes plus the lack of quality depth when (too frequent) injuries have occurred have brought Milan to this point. Poor form by those who play is not restricted to one or two players but others like Leao have not been deserving of any credit.
The way the team has been set up, either by choice or by lack of means, has meant that when Ibra is unavailable the best option has been Leao. The Portuguese has looked lazy and lacking confidence on the pitch. The other options like Rebic and Mandzukic have either not fitted well up front or have been injured.
Ibra is once again not available and therefore either Leao or Mandzukic will start up front. Recent form suggests that a chance should be taken on the latter. Last weekend Milan played as 4-4-2 or 4-2-2-2 at times. More offensive movement and presence in the opposition box will be needed at Lazio. Rebic, Calhanoglu and Saelemaekers have their part to play in finding more goals. Bennacer and Kessie will start but for a day or two it seemed that the former might not be able to do so. The same was said about Hernandez but it looks like the left back is ready. There has been talk of Tomori needing to rest and therefore Romagnoli returning to the starting 11 but that may not happen. Kjaer, who probably needs as much rest as any, will push on with the Chelsea loanee. The still unsigned Donnarumma will likely wear the captain’s armband again while he and his agent hold Milan in a state of uncertainty. Lille’s Mike Maignan is said to have agreed terms to come over if Donnarumma does leave.
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