Early Leao misses were the story of early minutes of the game. The hosts possessed most of the ball with Milan struggling to hold on to the ball and attack. Leao had another shot way high later in the half when it seemed like ages since Milan had a chance. Torino got on the scoresheet from a header. The Valentino Lazaro freekick was met by an unmarked Koffi Djidji. It got only worse after that. Aleksey Miranchuk beat Milan’s defense and Tatarusanu a bit too easily following a long clearance and Nikola Vlasic pass.
The 2-0 half time deficit was not far from how the half looked, in spite of what bookmakers like Betway predicted as more likely.
A triple sub at half time had at least one surprising name on it. Leao came off for Rebic with Dest and De Ketelaere for Kalulu and Diaz. Within five minutes Origi just missed reaching a Rebic cross. There were little indications of a Milan second half response.
A goal arrived Messias ran to collect a pass up the pitch in the process Alessandro Buongiorno and Vanja Milinkovic-Savic got in each other’s way and Messias ran clear and shot the ball into the net. Torino players and Ivan Juric cried foul as Messias had made some contact with Buongiorno. The goal was given however and Juric was red carded for his protests. Bennacer replaced Tonali after the goal. Minutes later Giroud arrived for Messias. Bennacer shot a long distance shot high while having more space than he perhaps realized.
It was to be a case of not taking the few chances and otherwise not being solid in all areas of the pitch. One could count on many simple passes and plays not executed well, including and especially from Pobega and De Ketelaere. The former just doesn’t look good enough and the latter is yet to adapt to life in Serie A. The 2-1 loss was a set back in this on paper easy stretch of games.
Milan scored four goals in two games in a row in consecutive solid displays. Diaz, playing in place of the yet to adapt to Serie A De Ketelaere, scored twice versus Monza in a game where Origi opened his Milan account. Three days later Milan handled Dinamo Zagreb to help ease Champions League pressures.
Milan’s injury list is always in flux. Diaz and Dest injured themselves and both were substituted versus Monza and then missed the midweek Champions League. This time it is short term injuries as both are available on the bench for the travel to Torino.
Maignan is still missing and therefore Tatarusanu will continue in goal. Kalulu will be trusted at right back with Gabbia and Tomori starters alongside Theo. Gabbia scored the opener at Zagreb with a diving header and is slowly growing. Bennacer is expected to be rested with Pobega and Tonali getting starts. The up front options mean it is not easy to predict who will start. Messias is favored perhaps keeping Rebic fresher for the RB Salzburg games coming in midweek. Based on form Diaz should be favored over De Ketelaere but the latter may get more Serie A game time. Leao will of course start on the left when available. Giroud was rested last weekend and looks to get more rest with Origi getting another chance.
Ola Aina injured his hamstring in training and will be a big missing piece for Torino. Il Toro are a midtable team but managed to beat high flying Udinese last weekend with the aforementioned Aina scoring. Pietro Pellegri scored his first of the Serie A season as well.
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A starting 11 featuring all of Rebic, De Ketelaere, Leao and Giroud would be considered offensive. Three points in Zagreb would mean that a match day 6 tie versus Salzburg would be enough for the Champions League knockout rounds.
The first few minutes were somewhat even and Milan had a scrambled action in the opposition box blocked by defenders. The hosts had a similar chance after the 15th minute mark. Dinamo Zagreb had more of the ball. Approachhing the half hour mark a good and prolonged passing movement led to Rebic getting the ball just inside the box, perhaps he could have done better and shot earlier. Moments later a back pass forced by Theo’s pressing almost found Rebic.
Milan were pinning the hosts back and a Giroud header, from a Kalulu cross, was punched out by Dominik Livakovic. A goal arrived when a Tonali free kick was met by a Gabbia diving free header.
Zagreb started the second looking brighter but it was Leao who doubled Milan’s lead. He took on the ball almost passed to Theo but ran and beat the goalkeeper himself. Giroud then had a header chance right at the goalie. Krunic replaced De Ketelaere and it is fair to say that young Belgian has yet to adapt to Serie A. Giroud then scored through a penalty. Tonali was held in the box by Robert Ljubicic. The Croatian also received a yellow. Giroud had several more headers and chances. The fourth goal was courtesy of an unfortunate unintentional header own goal, a Leao cross was misjudged by Giroud and the ball bounced to Ljubicic’s head an into goal. Messias, Ballo-Toure and Pobega came on for Leao, Theo and Bennacer to close the game. Origi then came on for relief of Giroud who, minus the penalty, had a frustrating night. Rebic had a late good chance.
The game ended with three big points towards the next stage of the UEFA Champions League.
Milan have climbed to second spot in the 2022-2023 Serie A standings. Wins versus Verona and Monza in a relatively easy stretch of games have allowed Milan the chance to accumulate points. The Champions League fate so far has been somewhat different. Losing twice to Chelsea home and away has meant Milan dropping to third spot in Group E. Beating Dinamo Zagreb away will be needed and crucial in preserving the chance for the Champions League knockout rounds.
Milan travel to Croatia with a whole set on injuries. The long term absences include Calabria, Florenzi, Ibra and Saelemaekers. Maignan was close to a return but a new injury put him on the long term list too. Added to this is Dest who is set to miss this game after a knock versus Monza during the weekend. Diaz is not 100% either but is reportedly travelling with the team.
Tatarusanu will have to continue in goal. Kalulu, Gabbia, Kjaer and Theo will have to start at the back with Tomori suspended with the controversial red versus Chelsea. Bennacer, Tonali and Krunic seem the likely midfielders with Leao, Giroud and either of Rebic or Messias up front. Leao got some much needed rest versus Monza but came on as a substitute and scared many with a wince and delighted many more with another goal.
Dinamo Zagreb continue to lead the way in Croatia and are still undefeated in the HNL. The weekend featured the fierce Hajduk Split rivalry that ended with a 1-1 tie. Bruno Petkovic scored for Zagreb from a penalty.
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It was Berlusconi and Galliani’s first encounter with Milan as owner and CEO of Monza, the CEO was in the stands along with others like Capello.
It was a changed team partially influenced by the very heavy schedule facing the team leading up to the Qatar World Cup. Kjaer was back to the starting 11 and Origi got his first Milan start. Rebic, Pobega, Dest also started with Tonali, Giroud and Leao on the bench for badly needed rest. Bennacer had a fever late in the week but had recovered to start. De Ketelaere had returned to the bench as well.
It was a relatively quiet first few minutes until Diaz received a Tatarusanu clearance and ran almost half the pitch and while falling had the strength and awareness to shoot the ball in. Monza woke up and gained some of the possession. Stefano Sensi tested Tatarusanu with a long shot in one of the better chances. Minutes later Tatarusanu made a good reflex save from Monza header. Origi with some good footwork shot just wide in the 33rd minute but it was Monza that had reacted better to the Milan goal.
Diaz doubled Milan’s lead. Origi had been roaming on the right, he beat the defender and crossed to Diaz. The Spanish turned and beat Michele Di Gregorio.
The half time score was therefore 2-0.
The second started with Kalulu replacing Dest. An early Rebic chance was saved. In yet more muscle injuries Diaz was forced off and replaced by De Ketelaere. Leao and Gabbia replaced Rebic and Kjaer too. Origi was showing a few glimpses of promise and he scored a screamer. Messias dribbled and got the ball to him and the Belgian shot empathically.
The shut out was broken when Filippo Ranocchia beat Tatarusanu directly from a very well taken free kick. Leao added to the score from a typical Theo assist soon after Vranckx had provided relief for Origi. Milan had further chances – notably a De Ketelaere miss kick – and Monza threatened on another two occasions.
The game ended with a much needed big score of 4-1.
Milan struggled to get three points in Verona. Tonali heroics and some luck and hard work (late Thiaw cameo included) helped Milan escape the Marcantonio Bentegodi with full points.
A week without Champions League football was hoped to help some of the injured and provide more rest for all. Some positive news on the injury front has arrived with Kjaer back in the squad and De Ketelaere almost there but Wednesday brought fears that Maignan, said to be almost ready too, has suffered a calf injury. If initial reports hold true the French goalkeeper might miss several more weeks. His spot in France’s World Cup squad could be at risk too.
Tatarusanu, not the most convincing, but doing reasonably well might have to do for a while longer. Kalulu, Gabbia, Tomori and Theo have little relief except Kjaer and the aforementioned Thiaw. Bennacer and Tonali will get the start barring rest or injury requirements. Adli started versus Verona and showed a few glimpses but the Frenchman’s absence so far in the season has been puzzling many commentators and fans. Krunic, Vranxcks and Pobega are available for the middle of the pitch.
Messias, Diaz and Leao will start in the attacking positions but Leao needs rest. Hosting Monza may be the best time for it. Giroud is another that is being overused and in need of rest. Rebic or Origi can deputize. The former has done well in recent substitute appearances.
Monza are of course owned by Silvio Berlusconi and ran by Adriano Galliani. The latter is sure to be in the stands and the self confessed forever Milan fan may be conflicted, at least somewhat. The biancorossi have won three of their last four since replacing Giovanni Stroppa with Raffaele Palladino as their coach.
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Perhaps mildly surprising but Adli got his long awaited start for Milan. Krunic and Tonali did as well.
The hosts had a good portion of the ball very early on but a mistake near the middle of the pitch led to Milan opening the scoring. Leao received the ball and his cross. The ball went in off of Miguel Veloso, the Portuguese veteran. Soon after Giroud had one of his worst of his recent misses when he just missed the net one on one with Lorenzo Montipo in Verona’s goal.
Another own goal arrived, this time Koray Gunter’s shot on goal was deviated in by Gabbia. The rest of the first was mostly quiet apart from when Kalulu fell in the Verona box and Verona had a decent chance late.
Rebic and Origi for Diaz and Giroud were the two changes at half time.
With Kalalu way up the pitch and losing the ball Verona had an early counter that ended with a shot just wide. Rebic then had a chance when put through from a Theo pass. The pace had picked up. Substitute Roberto Piccoli nearly gave the hosts the lead but his header hit the crossbar. Gabbia’s marking was near to non existent.
With half hour to go Bennacer and Pobega replaced Adli and Krunic. A flurry of action at the 75th minute had Rebic getting close but otherwise the game was devoid of real quality. A somewhat innocent looking action ended with a Rebic cross/pass to Tonali who was almost alone in front of the Verona goal and he finished easily enough. Thiaw replaced Leao to close the game. Verona’s late push, including several more corners, came to nothing.
It was a bigger struggle for three points than it needed to be.
The attempt to recover from the European loss to Chelsea was soon doomed. The already injury handicapped team had its chance to reverse the 3-0 home loss to Chelsea severely dented when Tomori was sent off in London. The decision to give a penalty was highly questionable and to add a red ‘in accordance to rules’ made it even worse. The game ended in a 2-0 loss and left Milan third in the Champions League group. It is not all finished though as meetings with Salzburg and Zagreb still provide a good chance to advance into the Champions League knockout rounds.
The league form contrasts with the European form as Juventus were beaten last weekend. A relatively easy stretch leading up to the Qatar World Cup is a good chance to be in good standing when Serie A restarts with the new calendar year. After Verona there are meetings with Monza, Torino, Spezia, Cremonese and Fiorentina.
Milan travels to Verona still hampered in the injury department. Maignan, Kjaer, De Ketelaere are out short term in addition to Calabria, Saelemaekers, Florenzi and Ibra who are out longer. Tatarusanu will start in goal and with practically the only defensive options available there is little choice but to play Kalulu, Gabbia, Tomori and Theo. All three of Krunic, Bennacer and Tonali should also start in the new pseudo 4-3-3. Leao, Giroud and Diaz are most likely forward starters with a small chance to see Messias. Adli, Rebic, Origi remain available and should surely be used more often.
Verona’s injury situation is less problematic but the likes of Kevin Lasagna are not 100%. With four consecutive losses they sit 18th in the Serie A standings.
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Being a fan of AC Milan right now has to be a mixed bag. They are a team that have risen from the ashes and orchestrated a rebuild that has delivered them the Serie A title in a very short span of time. As a supporter of the club, you will no doubt be riding high off the back of that success but recent form suggests some reason to harbour worry in their hearts. This sportsbook review offers an in-depth coverage on the Serie A giants and their exploits so far as well as expectations for the 2022/2023 campaign.
A very audible gasp could be heard around San Siro when Fikayo Tomori was shown a red card for a foul on Mason Mount in the 17th minute. The crowd clearly thought it was a harsh decision and BT Sport commentator Robbie Savage shared that sentiment but the decision stood and they were left with a mountain they were unable to climb successfully.
After losing 3-0 to the Blues the previous week, their chances of actually getting a positive result a man light became improbable. It is now three losses in five games for the Rossoneri and they would feel hard done by at this very moment with the way things have gone.
Injuries have not helped
It is only 13 games into the season and Milan have suffered injuries to key players already. Right now, Davide Calabria, excellent first choice keeper Mike Maignan, veteran fullback Alessandro Florenzi, Theo Hernandez, Rade Krunic, Alexis Saelemaekers, Charles De Ketelaere, Divock Origi, Sandro Tonali and Simon Kjaer are either spending or have spent time on the sidelines for AC Milan.
This is never a good sign for a team that plays as many matches as the Rossoneri do and some of those absentees are important starters or rotation options. Stefano Pioli has refused to blame injuries for their recent form and simply suggested that the team could do better and make less mistakes. He is right!
The major issue that sticks out with the club is the inability to keep clean sheets. Their season so far has seen them keep only three clean sheets from 13 matches. A far cry from the 10 clean sheets kept in 13 matches at the back end of last season.
Nine of those 10 shutouts helped Milan reach the pinnacle of Italian football and claim the Scudetto. In Serie A, they are fifth on the table and sit three points behind League Leaders Napoli. They have the lowest non-penalty expected goals conceded (NpxG) number in Serie A with 6.2 NpxG and have conceded only seven goals this season.
However, the fact that they’re unable to consistently shut out their opponents completely means that every time they have faced very good opposition this season, their weaknesses have been exposed.
Their three losses in the last five games have come against Napoli, the current League Leaders and twice against Chelsea. They also conceded more than once in their victory against bitter Rivals Inter Milan.
Their league position suggests they aren’t in a crisis at all and many believe that inconsistency is a part of having a very young team but this team still has the core group of players that were League Champions so that excuse will simply not fly, as Pioli has pointed out.
Their defeats in Europe are obviously disheartening to the players and fans but it is more of an indicator of where Milan are compared to the true European giants. They’re not there yet but they aspire to be and this core may be able to get the Rossoneri there. It’s all about trusting a process which had brought them success.
What to expect from Milan
That being said, the expectation on the shoulders of this very young team is to provide another title charge, one which they are more than capable of doing. They have already scored 18 goals and are the third highest scorers in the league and do not look like slowing down anytime soon.
Between their two losses to Chelsea they were able to secure a dominant victory over a poor Juventus side and will look to get back to winning ways when they face Hellas Verona this weekend in a match they fully expect to win. Napoli might be top of the League but AC Milan aren’t far behind. They’ve done this before and nobody will bet against this group of kids doing it again. As it stands, what we can expect is fireworks from this very exciting team.
All three of Krunic, Bennacer and Tonali started in what looked like a 4-3-3. A similar set up had provided a solid win versus Juventus on the weekend.
The game look anything but secure however. On the 18th minutes the hopes were seriously dented when a poor Tomori gave away a penalty. The penalty may have been harsh but the red accompanying it was even more so. Questionable defending and goalkeeping made any salvage operation harder when Mason Mount found Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who ran into the box and doubled Chelsea’s lead. Dest replaced Diaz to try to limit the damage.
The 0-2 half time deficit at home was a stark reminder of the gulf between the Serie A and the Champions League.
Rebic and Pobega replacing Giroud and Bennacer changed little. Ballo-Toure and Origi came on with 10 minutes remaining as a white flag type substitutions with Theo and Leao getting a small rest. Origi had a tame shot on goal as added time was starting and it was perhaps as good as it got.
The game ended tamely and Champions League progress chances while not dead didn’t look convincing.