Monthly Archive: December 2023

Week 18: Milan – Sassuolo

Milan – Sassuolo Saturday December 30 2023 18:00CET

Milan in the midst of an incredibly perplexing and continuing injury crisis have reached the point where Pioli’s job is on the line. The scudetto race is all but beyond the team and the European places – is it even still the Serie A top four with the upcoming new Champion League format? – is in threat.

The underperforming team is searching for bodies as soon as the January window opens. Gabbia’s Villarreal loan could be shortened to alleviate the defensive issues but what else could be done to slow the decline? A forward ready for Serie A in January? As much as the defensive options are depleted Giroud needs a backup, a long term one. Jovic has scored recently but can’s be more than short term option so can ready made player(s) be brought in in the next month?

Beating Berardi and Sassuolo might go a small way into reassuring all that the team has not lost it all this season. Theo is forced to return to the middle with only the aging and slowing Kjaer available as a partner. Calabria and Florenzi will complete the back four. Reijnders, Bennacer and Loftus-Cheek will line up in a relatively stable middle. Giroud, Pulisic and Leao need to show much more commitment, interest and finish up front to help the team. Francesco Camarda – along with seemingly the whole primavera squad – should be on the bench for further support and to fill the need subs numbers. The likes of Jan-Carlo Simic, Alex Jimenez and Davide Bartesaghi could be at the San Siro.

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Week 17: Salernitana – Milan

Salernitana – Milan Friday December 22 2023 20:45CET

A relatively easy week 16 3-0 win against Monza was a positive and arguably the Europa League match up vs Rennes is too. Before Milan faces off against the struggling French team in February there are Serie A and, soon, Coppa Italia matches to take care of.

Finding a fix for the injury struggles would aid Milan even more than the rumoured January reinforcements. Several names like Jonathan David, Juan Miranda and Serhou Guirassy are mentioned, many likely not very realistic but that’s for later. For now however, Milan are without Kalulu, Thiaw and Pobega until well into the new year with Okafor and Musah hoping to be back soon. Kjaer is slated for a return to the center of defense leaving Theo to return to return to his natural left back spot. Tomori and a returning from suspension Calabria will complete the back four. Bennacer will start in a middle three with Reijnders and Loftus-Cheek around him. The more regular Pulisic, Giroud, Leo forward three should be the for this pre-Christmas Friday match.

Pippo took over the Salernitana team and they remain bottom of the Serie A table having lost their latest three match. Despite this Milan would be wise to watch out for one the team’s old foes in Antonio Candreva.

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Week 16: Milan – Monza

Milan – Monza Sunday December 17 2023 12:30CET

Milan managed to squeeze out a Europa League spot by beating Newcastle. To some Milan fans that would count as an anticlimax of sorts. Champions League is what Milan is about and the prospect of somewhat meaningless Europa League midweek games doesn’t necessarily spark excitement. The extra revenue and coefficients are the obvious positives of course. The last minute loss to Atalanta last weekend had dampened the atmosphere and the continuing injuries and questionable tactics continue to define Pioli and the team overall. Perhaps Ibra’s return as a senior advisor to RedBird can ignite something within the team, time will tell what the Swede’s role higher up on the team’s echelon can have on the team itself.

Lorenzo Colombo and Matteo Pessina led Monza visit Milan in another Lombardy region matchup. Leading up to this week 16 match there have been various predictions for the lineup Pioli will choose. Will Theo continue to play a central role or move back to the left is probably the number one question. Bartesaghi can play on the left but will he? Calabria is suspended for this match and it makes the back line choices even less predictable. There has even been one report featuring Pobega as a defender. Up front Giroud as isolated as ever at Atalanta but managed to get on the scoresheet. Leao had several good moment but they were all wasted or misplayed in the end. Jovic scored again and perhaps deserves more minutes. The scudetto race is fading fast but a relatively light schedules needs to be taken advantage of. After meeting Galliani’s men Milan before traveling to Salernitana, hosting Sassuolo, meeting Cagliari in the Coppa Italia and then traveling to Empoli to finish the first half of the Serie A season.

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Week 15: Atalanta – Milan

Atalanta - Milan Saturday December 9 2023 18:00CET
Atalanta – Milan Saturday December 9 2023 18:00

Following a Champions League disappointment versus Borussia the Jovic first Milan goal led 3-1 win over Frosinone raised the collective moods a slight amount. Milan has managed to stay within striking distance of Serie A leaders Inter in this still young season but injuries, form and coaching have seen a decline that may require January reinforcement. Juan Miranda as Theo deputy and a striker seem to be the (obvious) priorities but Pioli’s coaching and the conditioning and the conditions of players are perhaps more worrisome.

Atalanta are not exactly the high flyers of recent seasons but the now eighth placed team can still further dampen Milan’s season. To face the Bergamo team a return to the semi abandoned 4-2-3-1 is predicted. Theo will once again play in the middle of the defence as the absentees and injuries remain on the sidelines. the two pivots are expected to be Musah and Reijnders with Loftus-Cheeks pushed up between Chukwueze and Pulisic. Giroud is set to return from suspension and needs to lead the offense well again. it is possible that Bennacer sees more minutes The Algerian saw a few minutes versus Frosinone returning from long term injury. With a more or less do or die Champions League match at Newcastle Adli is also another candidate for minutes.

Charles De Ketelaere’s loan move to Atalanta started well and there was early talk of Gasperini’s men redeeming his loan and sending €23+ million Milan’s way but the Belgian is now on the bench and may not feature much the rest of this season. Atalanta do feature Mario Pasalic as a starter however.

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Week 14: Milan – Frosinone

A limping and in crisis Milan face Frosinone trying to maintain or improve the distance between them Inter, the league leaders. The win against PSG in October revived some Champions League and form hopes but it has been followed by indifferent to poor form with the 3-1 loss to Dortmund adding to Pioli’s job security woes. Perhaps the biggest reason for this fall has been the growing number of injuries. Milan enter this week 14 match with all of the following missing. Sportiello, Kalulu, Kjaer, Caldara, Pellegrino , Leao , Okafor and Thiaw are all out short or long term. The latter limped off during the aforementioned Dortmund loss and forced Pioli into using Krunic as a center back.

There has been some thought that Krunic will retain the defense spot for the match against Frosinone but giving a chance to a defensive prospect Jan-Carlo Simic seems more sane. The 18 year primavera star might indeed get the chance with Tomori on his side. Calabria and Theo will complete the back four. Musa, Reijnder, Loftus-Cheek will play in the middle with the possibility of reverting to a 4-2-3-1. That has Pulisic, Chukwueze and Loftus-Cheek as the three. Giroud’s continuing suspension means Jovic is the only center forward option. The Serbian has been tagged a flop so far. At least this flop is coming at a relatively low cost.

Players’ forms have been worrying and the results have disappointed. To add to this a new Maldini interview has just been released. Speaking to the Repubblica newspaper the Milan legend has questioned RedBird and criticized many of their decisions before and after effectively firing him alongside Ricky Massara. Fan and public opinion has once again shifted against Gerry Cardinale and only a big turnaround will turn it around again. It might be with a new coach.

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