Monthly Archive: May 2022

Milan’s Scudetto Summer

It seemed unbelievable as recently as a few weeks ago but as Ibra had proclaimed and promised Milan won Scudetto number 19. Euphoria has followed, players won season awards and fans declared an official end to the Banter Era. Things are now moving fast and the future and hopes for it are already in focus.

Lots on the agenda for management and the ownership itself. Somewhat unexpectedly Elliott have shown willingness to sell all or part of the team. First Middle East based Investcorp’s name popped up and “things were moving fast”, this has now all but collapsed. USA based fund and Liverpool minority shareholder RedBird is now in for 70 to 100% of the team. Elliott letting go of Milan before a stadium is done and in place goes against previous declarations but it could be that Italy’s famous snail’s pace bureaucratic mess has cooled the current owners to the prospects of it happening sooner rather than later. Also, a new owner might be willing to go ahead with a sole ownership stadium instead of sharing it with Inter as Elliott seemed to be planning.

A potential new owner might be willing to spend more but UEFA’s financial limits and local economics might make it near impossible to do so. There is one rising cost that is inevitable if this team is going to keep growing and that is the team’s wage bill. There are a group of players who despite being under contract for another two years or more may or will need to be offered a raise. Kalulu is one, Tomori is another and Tonali – despite his willingness for the cause – is also another. The biggest however is Leao. The Portuguese winger is at the cusp of super star status and has just won the Serie A MVP of the season award. Talk before the last few weeks was of tripling his current salary to €4.5 million. He and his agent – plus his exposure to Sporting’s lawsuit claiming millions lost in transfer fee when he left them unilaterally to Lille in 2018 – are pushing him to ask for more. Possibly upwards of €7 million per season. Jorge Mendes is an agent who gets things done, perhaps only second to recently deceased Mino Raiola, and it is up to Milan’s management to make the effort to satisfy Leao and keep this pending super star. Kessie and Romagnoli’s practically certain exits and Ibra’s likely reduced salary will provide some savings but a Champions League aspiring team will inevitably be required to be a more expensively assembled one.

Other things that have already happened include Ibra’s left knee surgery that will keep him out until the new calendar year, if not force him to retire. And of course incoming transfers for a team that aims to strengthen. Divock Origi is almost certain to arrive when Liverpool’s season concludes after this weekend’s Champions League final versus Real Madrid. Sven Botman is another likely, as Romagnoli’s replacement and Renato Sanches as Kessie’s replacement. And more. Perhaps Club Brugge’s Noa Lang and Sassuolo’s Gianluca Scamacca are two names on the wish list. Many names will be mentioned and many will obviously not be true or realistic.

Eintracht Frankfurt’s Bundesliga survival and Europa League trophy guarantees a few extra millions courtesy of Hauge’s transfer. Duarte’s stay at Istanbul Basaksehir another few. Perhaps Lyon will sell Paqueta to bring in some more to Milan.

It still has a surreal feel to it and the potential of this youngest Scudetto winner in years is big. In the midst of all Pioli’s winner’s medal stolen and then found after the perpetrators posted about it on social media.

Exciting times await fans and all.

Milan 2021-2022 Players Rating

Please rate each player and press the submit button for each group – players are listed per position

Goalkeepers

Maignan
17
Mirante
17
Tătărușanu
14
Average
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Defenders

Ballo-Touré
17
Calabria
17
Florenzi
13
Gabbia
17
Hernandez
16
Kalulu
17
Kjaer
14
Romagnoli
18
Tomori
14
Average
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Midfielders

Bakayoko
19
Bennacer
12
Castillejo
16
Brahim
17
Kessie
13
Krunic
19
Messias
20
Saelemaekers
15
Tonali
9
Average
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Forwards

Giroud
15
Ibra
19
Lazetic
22
Leao
13
Maldini
20
Rebic
17
Average
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19th Scudetto: Sassuolo 0-3 Milan

Image courtesy @acmilan

Scenes of excited Milan fans travelling to Sassuolo greeted the players inside and outside the stadium.

A tie would be enough for the 19th Scudetto. As predicted the line up held little surprise with Krunic, Kessie and Saelemaekers starters and Giroud up top. Early minutes showed signs of nerves but nevertheless Leao, Giroud and Theo tested Andrea Consigli and Sassuolo.

A goal arrived in the 17th minute, the ball fell to Leao who easily beat the defender and crossed softly to Giroud at the penalty spot who in turn nutmegged a defender and goalkeeper to open the scoring.

Milan tested the hosts further and had several shots on goal, five in the first quarter of the match were reflective of how thew game was going. A season first cooling break seemed to disrupt the rhythm somewhat but a carbon copy goal arrived moments later when Leao beat the defender again and found Giroud in almost the same exact spot in the middle of the box. The Frenchman had his brace. Sassuolo seemed out of sorts and this was shown well when a third goal arrived. This time Leao found Kessie rushing to the box for possibly the Ivorian farewell Milan goal.

The 43rd minute was Maignan and Milan’s biggest test yet when Davide Frattesi headed on from a free kick. Milan’s keeper punched the ball out well, a reflex save.

The three goal lead at the half was much more than any fan could have expected.

Bennacer came on for Tonali to start the second. The pitch had several players slipping and this made for some nervous moments for both sides. The hosts seemed more composed overall. In the 59th minute Theo fast counter had Leao or Giroud coming close to scoring but the ball was behind the former. The defense, both Kalulu and Tomori, and pressing were holding out well when Sassuolo had the ball. In the meanwhile Inter had recovered from a goalless first half to score 3 against Sampdoria at the San Siro.

The game had slowed down considerably before the second cooling break arrived. Ibra for Giroud and Diaz for Krunic followed. Ibra scored what was to be the 4th but Leao (and Ibra himself) were offside in the build up. Florenzi came on for Saelemaekers and as the game entered its last 10 minutes Romagnoli came on for likely his final minutes as a Milan player – for Tomori.

Sassuolo tested Maignan twice in succession as the game entered the last five minutes of regular time. Calabria almost had Milan’s fourth in the 90th minute but his shot was well punched out.

The two minutes of added time elapsed as players were celebrating and the travelling fans made their way to the pitch after the full time whistle confirmed Milan’s 19th Scudetto, the first in 11 years.

Season Finale: Sassuolo – Milan

Milan has reached this week 38 match up at Sassuolo with the Scudetto one solitary point away. A tie will be enough to do one better than the 2020-2021 season and win the Serie A title. An unexpected title it would be and one that seemed years away when Stefano Pioli took over less than three years ago. More on the season that is about to end later.

As mentioned Milan needs just one point at Sassuolo to win the title. Owing to a better head to head record with Inter – a 1-1 tie and 2-1 win – the two points deficit requires them to win versus Sampdoria and for Milan to lose.

The back four and Maignan have held the fort well beyond expectations. Calabria has struggled somewhat this season but Kalulu , Tomori and Theo have offered a great mix of attack and defense, more so in recent weeks. The growth and solidity the center backs and balance that Theo has shown, capped off by his 70 yards plus run to score the second goal versus Atalanta, have allowed Milan to be in this position. Tonali’s form and improved solidity of Kessie and the hard work of Krunic have helped a lot as well. This has even earned the latter a start last week and perhaps another this weekend. Upfront Leao’s relative brief dip in form has reversed in May. While Giroud hasn’t scored many lately and Ibra hasn’t been on the pitch much the team has managed to get the points. Ibra took no part in the Atalanta game in front of a sold out San Siro but may play his last minutes as a footballer before retiring. Perhaps he could play the role of an impact sub again much like Rebic has in the last few weeks. These two options from the bench give hope for the final push in this season finale.

Sassuolo recovered from a week 35 6-1 rout at Napoli to tie with Udinese and beat Bologna away. Berardi, Raspadori, Scamacca et al will finish in midtable and don’t have too much to play for except that Sassuolo may look a different side next season with one, two or all three changing teams this summer.

There is always more about this and all Milan matches on the forums.

Week 37: Milan – Atalanta

Milan won emphatically at Verona. The 3-1 win kept up the pace with Inter, who had come from behind and won two days earlier versus Empoli. Tonali scored a brace, both assisted by Leao, and Florenzi came on and with Ibra pulling defenders deep again scored a late third. The sense of hope and optimism is growing with only two matches left and the two point lead allowing for a bit of a leeway with a win and tie being enough for the Scudetto. It would be Milan’s first title in over a decade with Free Bets UK a good place to play the odds of it happening.

Minus long term absentee that is Kjaer the team has gradually become healthy and this has led to a somewhat stable lineup with all the – mostly thin – options available to Pioli. Despite this lack of options the team is on the verge of something unexpected and even a second place finish is still a very good achievement.

Maignan is certainly one of the players of the season as the goalkeeper signed to replace Donnarumma has outperformed the latter with 15 clean sheets so far. In front of him Calabria, Kalulu, Tomori and Theo have become key parts of the team’s stingy defense. The middle two also belong in the player of season category. Tonali has shown big growth and hunger and his play of late is deserving of a big raise, especially after he accepted a low pay to join Milan. Bennacer has had an injury interrupted season but shows glimpses. In front the two there has been some disappointment. Saelemaekers has had a poor season but may start instead of Messias who has been only slightly better. It seems that Diaz has lost his spot to Kessie. The Spaniard may not be a Milan player next season as his Madrid loan may be cut short. Milan’s left side has been the key and Leao’s play there continues to impress. The Portuguese is not the most consistent player but his pace and dribbling skills and play in general are the makings of a big star. Giroud is likely to start upfront with Ibra offering late support. There will be more known about Ibra’s intentions for next season after this one ends.

Atalanta have not been their recent seasons’ self and have underperformed in this 2021-2022 season. However, history shows that Milan and its fans can expect an Atalanta at their best.

There is always more about this and all Milan matches on the forums.

Week 36: Verona – Milan

Starting Lineup: 4-2-3-1
16
Maignan
2
Calabria
20
Kalulu
23
Tomori
19
Hernandez
4
Bennacer
8
Tonali
30
Messias
79
Kessié
17
Leão
9
Giroud
Substitutes

It didn’t look easy and Fiorentina made it difficult for Milan to get into the game with a sometimes physical game. Tactically Milan are not a surprise and the left side with Leao and Theo was both the attacking focus and Fiorentina’s double teaming or overloading Milan’s aforementioned players. in the end Leao managed to just beat Pietro Terracciano in Fiorentina’s goal minutes after Ibra had come on and was attracting the attention of Fiorentina’s defenders.

Milan enter the final three games of the season visiting Verona and with a two point lead over Inter. On paper Milan’s schedule looks tougher with games versus Atalanta and Sassuolo to come while Inter play Cagliari and Sampdoria after hosting Empoli this weekend. Inter also have a Coppa Italia final versus Juventus to contend with on May 11th. Owning the tie break with the city rivals might come handy.

Little surprise is expected in the starting 11. The back four is more or less settled and the goalkeeper of course even more so. Maignan will start behind Calabria, Kalulu, Tomori and Hernandez. Change might yet happen in the summer if Sven Botman arrives from Lille but Milan’s defensive record has been one of the best in recent weeks and months. The double pivots will likely remain Bennacer and Tonali, especially with Kessie being used slightly ahead as a nominal attacking midfielder. Diaz’s performance has not anything noteworthy and he might not regain his starting spot at all. Leao is the not always at his best but he has done more than enough to be a crucial member of the team. Rumours of big bids for the Portuguese won’t go away unless he accepts Milan’s contract extension offer. On the other wing Milan’s perpetual problem remains but for now Messias is likely a better attacking weapon than Saelemaekers. Giroud will start up front with Ibra coming in in the second half.

Verona are a well coached not easily beaten team but while they have a small shot at European football next season their 9th place standing makes that unlikely. Three games left does not give them too much time to climb to seventh and a chance at the UEFA Conference League.

There is always more about this and all Milan matches on the forums.