Week 20: Milan – Roma
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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