Monthly Archive: March 2024

Week 30 Fiorentina – Milan

Fiorentina – Milan Saturday March 30 2024 20:45CET

As the March international break ends league campaigns enter the home stretch. Milan have grabbed the second spot from Juventus for now and can hope to finish the season on a relative high with perhaps a Europa League trophy too. The form has put into doubt Pioli’s presumed future as well. The coach is still thought to be on his way out in the summer but there may be a chance of things turning if this current form lasts into May.

What will make Pioli still be Milan coach next season?

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First stop on the aforementioned home stretch is Fiorentina. I Viola have not really delivered on any promise this season and are closer to midtable than the top spots. The hosts will be without Bonaventura for the same reason that Milan will be without Theo. Yellows accumulation suspension. The injury situation is relatively mild however with Kalulu and Pobega on the sidelines.

Theo’s absence forces Florenzi back into the line up. Calabria being the other trusted full back means that the center back spots are the uncertain ones with Tomori and Gabbia perhaps ahead of Thiaw and the not 100% ready Kjaer. A similar situation is set for midfield with Reijnders lining up with Adli but Bennacer could be available fit to start in place of the latter. The front four seem more certain with Pulisic, Loftus-Cheek and Leao all on good form with Giroud as the center forward. The latter is all but certain to be playing his final games for Milan as he heads to Major League Soccer and the bright lights of Los Angeles in the summer. The 37 year old has so far contributed 46 goals for the Milan cause as a number 9 since his arrival in 2021.

Whilst without the suspended Bonaventura Fiorentina do feature one somewhat forgotten long time Milan target Andrea Belotti. The forward’s name would be all over the papers as a Giroud replacement but as he enters his 30s Milan have moved on to younger targets. Perhaps Lille’s Jonathan David? Perhaps Bologna’s Joshua Zirkzee? What about RB Leipzig’s Benjamin Sesko or Sporting’s surely now very expensive Victor Gyokeres? As always Milan will be linked to a multitude of realistic and not so realistic names.

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Match Report: Verona 1-3 Milan

Verona 1-3 Milan

Rotation hasn’t always made for good Milan outcomes and despite some need for it – with more European and domestic matches coming after the international break – Pioli opted to sit Giroud for Okafor and keep the rest of the team intact. Kalulu did get a post injury start however. Maignan’s midweek injury scare was not and he started as well.

Milan’s oft dominant left side caused the most trouble early on and Verona could have been behind early on. An Okafor volley was saved well by Lorenzo Montipo’s fingertips as Milan threatened more with Verona rarely able to venture forward.

Pulisic’s hard shot surprised the Verona keeper but hit the crossbar as the quarter point of the match still had Milan with the bulk of the ball with 70% possession stats. As the 30 minute mark was approaching Verona managed to threaten the Milan goal and see more of the ball. Tomori got a yellow for stopping the on rushing Tijjani Noslin. The Dutch winger, who arrived to the Serie A this past January, showcasing his speed.

Milan missed chances with Okafor and Reijnders shooting wide and high with theirs but Verona made more forays into the Milan zone and Maignan became busier as half time approached. The breakthrough arrived courtesy of Theo as he did all from a Leao pass and beat two defenders and the keeper. In the aftermath he received a yellow to miss the next match, for reasons mostly known to the referee.

Gabbia replaced Kalulu at half time. The latter may have hurt his knee in a collision earlier in the first half. Dani Silva replaced Suat Serdar for the hosts. Pawel Dawidowicz’s mistake allowed Okafor to run on the goal, his shot was punched out to the feet of Pulisic who made it to 2-0.

Signs of Milan letting off a bit started to creep in and Verona proceeded to make a triple sub. Stefan Mitrovic replaced Darko Lazovic, Karol Swiderski replaced Michael Folorunsho and Giangiacomo Magnani replaced Pawel Dawidowicz. The aforementioned Noslin opened the scoring with a hard shot for Verona not from the wings but the top of the box into the left corner.

Giroud and Musah came on for Pulisic and Loftus-Cheek right after that goal. At the 70th minutefed in by Giroud it was Leao who missed wide left one on one with the Verona keeper. Chukwueze replaced Okafor for the final 16 minutes of regular time. Soon afterRuben Vinagre replaced Juan David Cabal for Verona.

Milan made it 3-1 when a Bennacer corner was headed on and volleyed into the far corner by Chukwueze. The latter scored his first Serie A goal of the season. The final sub has Kjaer coming on for Tomori. Noslin made another attempt from far but it was wide, the 24 years old could be one to watch. As the 90th minute approached Chukwueze had a half chance but shot low and just wide and Swiderski had a hard shot stopped by Maignan. The latter seemed uncomfortable after that stop.

The game ended 3-1. Juventus had dropped points earlier in the day. Milan now had a three point cushion in the fight for second place.

Milan’s Summer 2024

Milan's summer 2024 transfer market top priority is? (Choose up to two)

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Gerry Cardinale says he wants changes

As always a lot has been rumoured already about what Milan needs and can do to strengthen during the upcoming 2024 summer transfer window.

The season has highlighted some more obvious weaknesses.

A young striker is always desirable especially with Giroud older and a possible departure in the cards, possibly to the MLS, any way. Jovic has deputized well, sometimes, but a team like Milan needs more, to play on several fronts especially.

Many fans and commentators alike believe a Kessie type midfielder is missing from the current Milan. A strong player that can carry the ball between zones would help against weaker and stronger opposition and tactics. Loftus-Cheek, Reijnders, Bennacer, Musah, Adli anbd Pobega have shown varied form and not exactly used consistently by Pioli. The team should look to make an improvement in the middle.

Kjaer is aging, Gabbia, Kalulu, Thiaw, Tomori and even Hernandez have also shown differing form during the current season playing in the back. The team as a whole has conceded a far too high number of 32 goals (after 28 matches at time of writing). Injuries have disrupted enough to provide needed clarity but depth and more are needed in the back too.

The full back position is intriuguing. The team has Hernandez and little more in the left back back spot but various rumours and moves have pointed at the right back spot. Neither Calabria nor Florenzi are world beaters but for example but at least they are available bodies, yet when the chance arrived Milan moved swiftly for Terracciano. The young Verona born and player is versatile but his main position is right back.

Cardinale, sitting along side senior advisor Ibra, has recently again claimed that he wants changes and wants Milan to challenge more and sooner. The summer will be one indicator at the possible ambitions. A possible and likely new coach will be another pointer too.