Author: Reza

Notes On Three Frustrating Points Versus Fiorentina

Milan 2-1 Fiorentina
Leao 2’ Milenkovic 90’+2 (OG) ~ Barak 28′

Tatarusanu; Kalulu, Thiaw, Tomori, Theo Hernandez; Tonali, Bennacer; Brahim, Krunic, Leao; Giroud were the starters.

Game got off to an excellent start when Leao took on the ball from Giroud – from a Tomori pass – and beat Pietro Terracciano in the far corner with his right foot. Riccardo Saponara threatened to equalize soon after but his shot hit the post.

The game was uneventful until another poor defensive display had the visitors equalize, none of the Milan players defended the ball well and Tatarusanu while not faultless had to deal with a deflecting ball. Milan’s next best chance came just before half time when Diaz scrambled with the ball but was unable to get the ball into the next. It was also not the first instance where refereeing was head scratching.

The 1-1 half time score was one reflection of the lack of intensity and overall poor structure and display.

Milan came closes to taking the lead with Diaz freeing Kalulu on the right. The latter’s cross was almost diverted in by Giroud. Moments later Leao shot just wide from a Theo pass. Dest and Origi came on for Thiaw and Diaz.

Tomori could have given away a penalty on the hour mark, his tackle was somewhat questionable and VAR deemed it legal. The performance was lackluster with most attempts to enter Fiorentina’s box wasted by a wrong pass, poor cross or overall bad decision making. An attempted Giroud bicycle kick from a Leao cross was one example of the ball going awry when given a chance. Vranckx came on for the ineffective and invisible Krunic with 15 minutes to go. Leao’s next attempt was half blocked by Giroud in the box in a continuation of the theme of the game. Then Leao shot way high when almost free on goal when Fiorentina had seemingly decided to sit back for counters and take the tie. Rebic came on for Tonali for the final five minutes.

The drama was not over as a late goal arrived from a Vranckx cross. The goalkeeper came to collect the ball but hit the Milan player instead as the ball moved to the far side and it was diverted in with Origi on the doorstep, the goal was credited an Nikola Milenkovic own goal. Fiorentina protested but VAR, correctly, saw nothing.

It was a 2-1 win and three needed points in a game where Milan frustrated and was poor.

Week 15: Milan – Fiorentina

Pioli started all three of Thiaw, Kjaer and Tomori at Cremonese in a three man defense formation. With the absence of Theo and Giroud through suspension it was attempted to by pass the expected defensive block of the hosts with Leao resting on the bench. It did not work and the two points dropped in the 0-0 tie were a set back in a league being dominated by Napoli. The chasing pack of Lazio, Juventus and Inter are all close enough too. Further set back will see Milan fall out of the top four. Milan have surprised and overcome challenges well under Pioli’s reign but the team still features many misfiring members.

The back four, perhaps featuring Thiaw, will make a return with World Cup bound Theo and Giroud expected to return to the starting 11. Bennacer and Tonali should start too. The front four is, as always, in flux. Messias (if healthy), Leao, Krunic could start behind the aforementioned Giroud. The inconsistent and so far unrealized potential of Diaz and De Ketelaere is endangering the chances of the team. De Ketelaere was chosen for the Belgian World Cup team and it is hoped he will return to Serie A action a more ready player.

Fiorentina are recovering from a disappointing start and have won their last three Serie A games. Jack Bonaventura and Nikola Milenkovic have been a big part of their recent upturn.

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Week 14: Cremonese – Milan

Cremonese vs Milan November 8 2022 20:45CET

As the hectic schedule ahead of the World Cup break nears its end Milan sit second in the Serie A standings. Meeting 18th placed Cremonese in the Serie A for the first time in quarter of a century provides an opportunity to keep up with Napoli who have threatened to run way with the league.

There are two enforced changes for this match at the Giovanni Zini. Theo is suspended after accumulating yellows and Giroud is suspended for getting a second yellow for removing his shirt during his late goal celebrations versus Spezia. The starting 11 looks very likely to be Kalulu, Kjaer, Tomori and Balllo-Toure in front of Tatarusanu. Bennacer and Tonali both starting with Rebic, Diaz, Messias and Origi up front. It indeed looks like Leao might be given a day off.

One familiar name that is a likely starter will be Soualiho Meite who is at Cremonese on loan from Benfica. Another is Frank Tsadjout who left Milan in the summer. David Okereke is the hosts’ leading scorer with three goals.

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Notes On A 2-1 Win Vs Spezia And More VAR Frustrations

Milan 2-1 Spezia FT
Theo 21, Giroud 89′ ~ Maldini 59′

Tatarusanu; Kalulu, Gabbia, Tomori, Theo; Krunic, Bennacer; Messias, Diaz, Leao; Origi were the starters.

The first half featured a few missed chances and a goal. An excellent Bennacer assist was converted by Theo. A lengthy VAR check ensued to check for offside but the goal stood. Late in the half Tatarusanu almost conceded but M’Bala Nzola misses his chance to equalize for the visitors. Leao had a chance to change the half time score but his attempt hit the post.

Tonali came on for Bennacer at half time. It was Daniel Maldini who got the next goal. He, on loan at Spezia, cleverly eluded Messias and Krunic and his curling shot found the far side. Minutes later Tonali scored what all thought to be a good screamer of a goal but VAR intervened to annul it for a foul in the build up. It was yet another frustrating intervention on a foul that was at best 50-50. Facing the prospect of dropping points Giroud came on along with De Ketelaere. The Frenchman rescued the team with a late winner. In the celebrations that followed his acrobatic goal he removed his jersey and got his second yellow. He and Theo had gotten yellows a few minutes earlier when tempers had flared between the players. Theo would also miss the upcoming midweek match at Cremonese due to the accumulation of yellows. The aforementioned N’Zola had also received a yellow at that point.

VAR frustrated yet again but the three points allowed Milan to not lose further ground to first placed Napoli, six points ahead.

Week 13: Milan – Spezia

Milan vs Spezia November 5 2022 20:45CET

Milan brushed aside the Serie A loss at Torino and won 4-0 against Salzburg. Qualifiying for the knockout round of the Champions League again is a boost to the team’s stated ambitions, reputation and finances. It will also help the young team grow. What can happen on the pitch come Febraury and MArch is something esle to be discussed later.

The so called easy Serie A stretch continues with Spezia visiting. It looks like the starting 11 will feature Origi again, as it did last weekend. Giroud was one of the star of the 4-0 win versus Salzburg and he will get some more rest heading into a busy weekend and then the World Cup. Messias, Diaz and Leao are the candidates for the three behind the Belgian forward. Diaz was not used in the Champions League match and should be rested. There is some talk of Vranckx getting big minutes perhaps resting Tonali. Bennacer was very good midweek and his form and presence has made a difference in the middle of the pitch.

In the back Kalulu, Gabbia, Tomori and Theo are the usual candidates for starting in front of Tatarusanu.

Spezia, sitting in 16th spot, are led by M’Bala Nzola who has scored five Serie A goals so far. His team’s last Serie A win was in September versus Sampdoria.

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Notes As Milan Qualify For The 2022-2023 Champions League Round of 16

Milan 4-0 RB Salzburg
Giroud 14’ 57’ Krunic 46’ Messias 90’+1

Tatarusanu; Kalulu, Kjær, Tomori, Theo; Tonali, Bennacer; Rebic, Krunic, Leao; Giroud were the starting 11 as Milan beat RB Salzburg 4-0 and qualified for the knockout round of the 2022-2023 Champions League.

The draw for the round of 16 will take place on November 7 at 12:00CET. Milan finish second in Group E behind Chelsea and could face any of the first placed teams – except Napoli and Chelsea of course – in the February and March. The possible opponents are Real Madrid, Manchester City, Benfica, Porto, Bayern Munich and Tottenham.

Champions League Matchday 6 Milan vs Salzburg

Milan vs Salzburg November 2 2022 21:00CET

Milan head to the final match of the 2022-2023 Champions League group stage needing a tie to qualify for the knockout rounds from group E. The Champions League has been mostly mixed with two losses versus Chelsea dampening expectations. Beating or tying Salzburg would erase at least some of that and allow Milan to progress into an important stage both for the team on the pitch and also financially.

The injury list remains long and there is little leeway for Pioli. The coach extended his contract to 2025 in the leadup to this matchday 6 game and his influence will grow further. The players have benefitted from his presence and despite a few disappointments the relationship between coach and team has worked very well. There is something to be said against contract negotiations in the middle of a (busy) season but such things are common and normal.

RB Salzburg remain top of the Austrian Bundesliga – with Sturm Graz close behind – and Noah Okafor scored again during the weekend.

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Notes On Disappointing And Deserved Loss At Torino

Torino 2-1 Milan
Djidji 35’ Miranchuk 37’ ~ Messias 67′

Tatarusanu; Kalulu, Gabbia, Tomori, Theo Hernandez; Tonali, Pobega; Messias, Brahim, Leao; Origi

Early Leao misses were the story of early minutes of the game. The hosts possessed most of the ball with Milan struggling to hold on to the ball and attack. Leao had another shot way high later in the half when it seemed like ages since Milan had a chance. Torino got on the scoresheet from a header. The Valentino Lazaro freekick was met by an unmarked Koffi Djidji. It got only worse after that. Aleksey Miranchuk beat Milan’s defense and Tatarusanu a bit too easily following a long clearance and Nikola Vlasic pass.

The 2-0 half time deficit was not far from how the half looked, in spite of what bookmakers like Betway predicted as more likely.

A triple sub at half time had at least one surprising name on it. Leao came off for Rebic with Dest and De Ketelaere for Kalulu and Diaz. Within five minutes Origi just missed reaching a Rebic cross. There were little indications of a Milan second half response.

A goal arrived Messias ran to collect a pass up the pitch in the process Alessandro Buongiorno and Vanja Milinkovic-Savic got in each other’s way and Messias ran clear and shot the ball into the net. Torino players and Ivan Juric cried foul as Messias had made some contact with Buongiorno. The goal was given however and Juric was red carded for his protests. Bennacer replaced Tonali after the goal. Minutes later Giroud arrived for Messias. Bennacer shot a long distance shot high while having more space than he perhaps realized.

It was to be a case of not taking the few chances and otherwise not being solid in all areas of the pitch. One could count on many simple passes and plays not executed well, including and especially from Pobega and De Ketelaere. The former just doesn’t look good enough and the latter is yet to adapt to life in Serie A. The 2-1 loss was a set back in this on paper easy stretch of games.

Week 12: Torino – Milan

Torino vs Milan October 30 2022 20:45CET

Milan scored four goals in two games in a row in consecutive solid displays. Diaz, playing in place of the yet to adapt to Serie A De Ketelaere, scored twice versus Monza in a game where Origi opened his Milan account. Three days later Milan handled Dinamo Zagreb to help ease Champions League pressures.

Milan’s injury list is always in flux. Diaz and Dest injured themselves and both were substituted versus Monza and then missed the midweek Champions League. This time it is short term injuries as both are available on the bench for the travel to Torino.

Maignan is still missing and therefore Tatarusanu will continue in goal. Kalulu will be trusted at right back with Gabbia and Tomori starters alongside Theo. Gabbia scored the opener at Zagreb with a diving header and is slowly growing. Bennacer is expected to be rested with Pobega and Tonali getting starts. The up front options mean it is not easy to predict who will start. Messias is favored perhaps keeping Rebic fresher for the RB Salzburg games coming in midweek. Based on form Diaz should be favored over De Ketelaere but the latter may get more Serie A game time. Leao will of course start on the left when available. Giroud was rested last weekend and looks to get more rest with Origi getting another chance.

Ola Aina injured his hamstring in training and will be a big missing piece for Torino. Il Toro are a midtable team but managed to beat high flying Udinese last weekend with the aforementioned Aina scoring. Pietro Pellegri scored his first of the Serie A season as well.

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Notes On Three Big Points In Zagreb

Dinamo Zagreb 0-4 Milan
Gabbia 39’ Leao 50’ Giroud 59’(P) Ljubicic 69’(OG)

Tatarusanu; Kalulu, Gabbia, Kjaer, Theo; Tonali, Bennacer; Rebic, De Ketelaere, Leao; Giroud

A starting 11 featuring all of Rebic, De Ketelaere, Leao and Giroud would be considered offensive. Three points in Zagreb would mean that a match day 6 tie versus Salzburg would be enough for the Champions League knockout rounds.

The first few minutes were somewhat even and Milan had a scrambled action in the opposition box blocked by defenders. The hosts had a similar chance after the 15th minute mark. Dinamo Zagreb had more of the ball. Approachhing the half hour mark a good and prolonged passing movement led to Rebic getting the ball just inside the box, perhaps he could have done better and shot earlier. Moments later a back pass forced by Theo’s pressing almost found Rebic.

Milan were pinning the hosts back and a Giroud header, from a Kalulu cross, was punched out by Dominik Livakovic. A goal arrived when a Tonali free kick was met by a Gabbia diving free header.

Zagreb started the second looking brighter but it was Leao who doubled Milan’s lead. He took on the ball almost passed to Theo but ran and beat the goalkeeper himself. Giroud then had a header chance right at the goalie. Krunic replaced De Ketelaere and it is fair to say that young Belgian has yet to adapt to Serie A. Giroud then scored through a penalty. Tonali was held in the box by Robert Ljubicic. The Croatian also received a yellow. Giroud had several more headers and chances. The fourth goal was courtesy of an unfortunate unintentional header own goal, a Leao cross was misjudged by Giroud and the ball bounced to Ljubicic’s head an into goal. Messias, Ballo-Toure and Pobega came on for Leao, Theo and Bennacer to close the game. Origi then came on for relief of Giroud who, minus the penalty, had a frustrating night. Rebic had a late good chance.

The game ended with three big points towards the next stage of the UEFA Champions League.