Week 5: Milan – Verona

Milan – Verona Saturday September 23 2023 15:00CET

The derby humiliation was followed by a 0-0 tie versus Newcastle in the opening night of the new Champions League season. The Newcastle game featured a dominant Milan, particularly in the first half, who was nevertheless unable to beat Nick Pope or finish chances. Leao and others needed and need to be more focused and play a simple game. One particular point of criticism was Leao attempting backheel right in front of Newcastle’s goal. The Portuguese could have opted to turn and try to tap in the ball but didn’t. This message seems obvious but is not always put into practice.

As the season progresses injuries do keep being added. Maignan, by now developing an injury prone tag, went down during the Newcastle game and fortunately his time on the sidelines is expected to be short. Sportiello will deputize. Loftus-Cheek did also come off during the aforementioned game but his injury is not thought to be serious. There is also a Pulisic/Chukwueze rivalry developing. Pulisic may still hold the upper hand for the right wing position but Pioli is non-committal and unpredictable. The two players’ availability is of course a plus for depth of the team.

There is word that Pioli might opt for more rotation and possibly even a 3-4-3. The mooted 3-4-3 will feature Florenzi moving up and joining Musah, Reijnders and Krunic in midfield. The back three will be a trio of Kjaer, Tomori and Thiaw. In both cases Pulisic, Giroud and Leao are the most likely starters. If Giroud needs rest Okafor is the most likely to be given the chance to play up front.

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