Monthly Archive: January 2024

Week 22: Milan – Bologna

Milan – Bologna Saturday January 27 2024 20:45CET

Milan have managed a winning streak that continues to solidify a possible top three finish. It needed a last minute Okafor goal to get the three points at Udinese but he and other sub Jovic extended the 2024 winning run. The game was marred by racist gestures aimed at Maignan however. Such so called fans continue to defy logic because supposedly they are fans of teams who obviously include players of all colours.

Alexis Saelemaekers is not 100% and may not start for Bologna but the Milan loanee has done relatively well for Bologna. Bologna’s star player is Joshua Zirkzee who is somewhat randomly linked to Milan in the team’s continued search for a younger forward. Notwithstanding the fact that Bayern Munich have a buy back option the Dutch player will not come cheap. Observers claim that Milan will monitor the player in this game, it is somehow implied that many, including Milan’s management, hope he does well against Milan. This obviously would defy common sense.

The winning run will push Pioli to start the same 11 as the last weeks. This mean Maignan, Calabria, Kjaer, Gabbia and Theo form the back line with Adli and Reijnders as pivots in the 4-2-3-1. Pulisic, Loftus-Cheek, Leao and Giroud will start up front. Despite being in relative good form the latter has an outside chance of leaving Milan this summer and perhaps head to the MLS in North America. The French forward certainly needs more rest and it is debatable if Milan should continue with both Okafor and Jovic next season. This January transfer window has not unexpectedly been quiet but expect another busy summer. Perhaps with slightly more certainty about a future stadium.

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Week 21: Udinese – Milan

Udinese – Milan Saturday January 20 2024 20:45CET

Three points hosting Roma solidified a possible top three spot in the Serie A. Roma’s 3-1 loss was to be Mourinho’s last in charge of the capital team and he was watching it from the stands as he was suspended from the touchline.

The win has relieved some pressure off the team and Pioli. The coach might not at the helm come September nevertheless. For now another stretch of winnable games start with a travel to Udinese. This game is followed by hosting Bologna and then travelling to Frosinone before games against Napoli and Rennes.

The Roma win was good enough that a rare lineup repeat is very likely. The same 11 should start with the hope of repeat score, or more. Maignan and Theo who may be subject to summer transfer bids will line up with Calabria, Kjaer and Gabbia at the back. The latter was give n the start due to ongoing injury situation and did well against Lukaku and co. Adli and Reijnders may not be the first names that come to mind for pivot positions but Pioli has his ideas. Leao, Loftus-CHeek and Pulisic will be the three in the 4-2-3-1. The American has been the recipient in both Serie A and American national team departments and should be considered a relative transfer success.

Udinese are flirting with the relegation spots and that is usually not the best team for Milan to face. Giroud up front could add to his now double digit goals to prevent another anticlimax versus a weaker team.

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Week 20: Milan – Roma

Milan – Roma Sunday January 14 2024 20:45CET

A relatively comfortable away win at Empoli was followed by an uninspired Coppa Italia exit at the hands of Atalanta. With the January transfer window open Gabbia cut short his Villarreal loan to add a much needed body with the treatment room as full as ever. Terracciano arrived from Verona to pretty much do the same, with the bonus that he is a versatile player capable of playing from right midfield or left back. Pioli’s tactics were under scrutiny again, the coach flirted with a back 3 in the Coppa game with a poor return. All in al it seems the coach’s fate is all but sealed and Milan will hire another this summer. Conte’s name will keep popping up but is probably not the most likely name.

The second half of the season starts hosting Roma. Mourinho’s men remain inconsistent at best and lie midtable. Like Milan their absent list is not small and they also have to manage with three players – Houssem Aouar, Evan Ndicka and Sardar Azmoun – off on national duty at the Africa Cup of Nations and Asian Cup. Milan have two such absentees in Bennacer and Chukwueze.

Milan’s injury list has limited player options for seemingly forever therefore the back four may feature Gabbia and Kjaer with Calabria and Theo. The latter has shown signs of improved form and will be crucial of course. Opting for a 4-2-3-1 instead of a 4-3-3 may mean Adli and Reijnders as pivots which is probably not the best position for Adli. Pulisic, fresh off a player of the month award for December 2023, will line up with Loftus-Cheek and Leao behind Giroud.

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Week 19: Empoli – Milan

Empoli – Milan Sunday January 7 2024 12:30CET

Milan’s injury crisis continues to handicap the team. January 2024 brings added pressure to the squad options with Chukwueze and Bennacer off to play for their national teams – Nigeria and Algeria respectively – at the Africa Cup Of Nations. Pioli’s (lack of) tactics continue to be a source of problems and criticism with word that the most he will last is until the summer.

In the meanwhile the 2024 January transfer market has opened. Gabbia was immediately recalled from Villarreal loan to cover for missing bodies at the back. Verona’s versatile 20 year old Filippo Terracciano is on the verge of joining as well for around €5 million. The back four will likely remain as it was in last week’s narrow 1-0 win over Sassuolo. Maignan in goal with Calabria, Kjaer, Theo and Florenzi in front of him. Bennacer’s aforementioned absence will give Adli a chance to play with Reijnders and Loftus-Cheek with Pulisic, Giroud and Leao starting up front. Jovic’s five goals in last seven games is not likely to earn him a starting spot ahead of Giroud, to the ire of some.

Milan are hanging on to third spot but any further dip in form will only accelerate Pioli’s exit. Playing 19th placed Empoli is not a guarantee of full points as any Milan observer can testify. Aurelio Andreazzoli’s men have not won since mid November. The coach is once again in charge of Empoli with the very familiar Mattia Destro at his disposal.

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