Author: Reza

Week 8: Empoli – Milan

Empoli vs Milan October 1 2022 20:45CET

The week 7 home loss to Napoli was a disappointment, consensus was that Milan played well and it was indeed the case. The lack of finishing and opposition opportunism lost the game. Tactically Milan have looked as dynamic as ever, the pressing as impressive as ever but the sometimes high line has not worked as well. Kjaer and Tomori started as center backs and yellows in the first meant that Pioli, in hindsight wrongly, brought on Kalulu (for Kjaer) and Dest (for Calabria) which somewhat backfired. Dest gave away a penalty which has now marked his, so far very short, time at Milan as a failure.

The disappointment was evident in post match interviews and the international break has brought on more problems. Theo and Maignan injured themselves and will be unavailable for important matches that include this trip to Empoli but more importantly the Champions League match at Chelsea and in at least Maignan’s case the week 9 Juventus match and perhaps more. Maignan may be replaced on the UEFA squad list if his injury is noted as lasting longer than 30 days.

In the case of this match at Empoli the goalkeeping assignment falls on Tatarusanu but the bigger issue who replaces Theo. Ballo-Toure is not the most trusted but is the primary candidate for the left back spot. Whispers that Calabria or Dest could start as left back may not be close to reality. Calabria himself is not fully fit but is available and so is Tonali. Tonali has been declared fit and his availability is one less headache. Pobega may get the nod ahead of Bennacer for this match. Upfront Rebic is set to be back on the bench but with no Origi the task falls on Giroud. Leao, Messias and De Ketelaere are the likely other starters.

Empoli have won one of their first seven matches in this 2022-2023 Serie A season with only six goals for. The team is led up front by Sam Lammers. The former PSV player is on loan from Atalanta.

There is always more about this match and others on the forums.

Notes On A 1-2 Loss To Napoli

Milan 1-2 Napoli
Giroud 69′ ~ Politano 55′(P) Simeone 78′

Leao’s absence through suspension meant that Pioli had to make changes and the starting 11 was somewhat surprising featuring Saelemaekers, De Ketelaere and Krunic behind Giroud. Diaz and Messias were on the bench. Kjaer started in Kalulu’s place as well. Luciano Spalletti was suspended as well and Napoli coach was in the stands.

Early minutes showed both teams with intensity with little clear cut chances. Balls were falling to Giroud but the Frenchman was unable to find the target or to beat Alex Meret in the Napoli goal. A good such chance occurred in the 13th minute. As expected Khvicha Kvaratskhelia was troubling Milan and he forced Kjaer into a yellow.

Meret saved again from a Krunic header after a corner. Krunic had a counter chance soon after but the ball was lost in an exchange with Theo. Milan were doing well around the 30 minute mark and this included Calabria’s handling of the aforementioned Georgian winger.

Matteo Politano tested Maignan in the 36th minute and Napoli threatened again in the 41st but the overall control and better quality belonged to Milan. The 0-0 half time score could have been better.

Kalulu and Dest came on for Kjaer and Calabria with the two defenders on a yellow. Dest gave away a contested penalty soon after. VAR and pitch side monitor checked deemed Dest’s foot making contact with Kvaratskhelia’s foot. Politano converted the penalty while Maignan was not far from making a save. Nevertheless questions were asked about why Kjaer was starting and then subbed.

A good chance went nowhere when a Theo cross eluded all Milan attackers. Minutes later Brahim and Messias came on for Krunic and Saelemaekers. With his first involvement, Messias quick on a De Ketelaere pass forced a good Meret save.

Giroud tied the game. A good run up and pass to Theo resulted in a cross who found Giroud alone centrally near Napoli’s goal. The Frenchman diverted the ball in.

Napoli retook the lead. Substitute Giovanni Simeone’s accurate header beat Maignan. Mario Rui had provided an excellent cross which should have been defended better. It was the forward’s first goal for Napoli. Adli came on for De Ketelaere for a rare, so far, few minutes.

Kalulu hit the crossbar in the 86th minute. The defender won the ball, ran all the way up the pitch, received the Theo cross, beat Meret but not the bar. A late push did not provide a reward and Napoli took the three points. Milan had been unable to capitalize on minutes of superiority.

Week 7: Milan – Napoli

Milan vs. Napoli September 18 2022 20:45CET

Milan came out of the last week with two wins. First lowly Sampdoria were beaten 2-1 in a game that didn’t always look secure. The team struggled to break down Marco Giampaolo’s team. A bigger test awaited in the second Champions League match day. Dinamo Zagreb visited the San Siro and Milan beat them 3-1 more comfortably than some expected.

Sharing the top of the table spot with Napoli makes this a big match up relatively early in the season. Milan, inevitably, has a growing injury list in Rebic, Florenzi and Origi. A bigger problem for Pioli and Milan is that Leao is suspended via two questionable yellows versus Sampdoria last week. All this leaves the attacking department lacking options. Giroud will have to start but behind him the team might opt to use both Saelemaekers and Messias around De Ketelaere. Diaz looks to be the player to benched. Further back the line up is more certain. Bannacer and Tonali have started this season well and will start when available. Pobega seems to be growing into his role as a backup midfielder however. Calabria will be backed up by Dest. Dest was presented during the week and declared that he is capable of playing both left and right back and is ok with moving further up to be a de facto right winger. Tomori, Kalulu and Theo will complete the back line with Maignan in goal.

Napoli have an injury hit of themselves with Victor Osimhen missing with a femoris muscle problem. Milan do have to deal with one of the stars of this new season in Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. The Georgian winger has provided highlight plays so far and will be a threat.

There is always more about this match and others on the forums.

Notes On A 3-1 UCL Home Win Versus Dinamo Zagreb

Milan 3-1 Dinamo Zagreb

While holding the majority of the ball Milan, and Zagreb as well, were not clean in possession in the early minutes. Giroud and Tonali had the early half chances.

Best chance came in the 21st minute when Leao was free onto goal but Sadegh Moharrami recovered well enough to push the ball into a corner. Moments later Bennacer forced a good save from Dominik Livakovic in Zagreb’s goal.

Moharrami forced a save from Maignan for his team’s best chance yet in the 28th minute. Milan missed the target more often than not and was unable to breakthrough Zagreb’s defensive shape but the goal finally arrived just before half time. Josip Sutalo made slight contact with Leao and Giroud converted the penalty.

Milan doubled their lead early in the second. Saelemaekers met Leao’s cross with a head and scored an excellent goal for the second Champions League game in a row. The score line didn’t last long. Mislav Orisc assisted by Bruno Petkovic beat a whole crowd of Milan players inside the box with smart looking shot that just eluded Maignan.

Pobega and De Ketelaere came on for Tonali and Giroud. The game was relatively quiet before Pobega extended the lead. A passing movement ended with a give and go between the scorer and Theo. Pobega found himself open and his shot went in just under the crossbar, this was the 23 year old’s first Milan goal. Messias, Krunic and Dest came on for Saelemaekers, Bennacer and Diaz right after the goal.

The game ended with an overall comfortable 3-1 win and first home Champions League win.

Champions League Matchday 2 Milan vs. Dinamo Zagreb

Milan vs. Dinamo Zagreb September 14 2022 18:45CET

Milan opened the 2022-2023 Champions League with a disappointing 1-1 at RB Salzburg and followed it up with a come from behind controversial 2-1 win at Sampdoria. With the number of injuries creeping up the (lack of) depth is being exposed.

Dinamo Zagreb will visit a Milan without Origi, Rebic, Krunic, and of course Ibra. Giroud is the de facto starter and will almost certainly get the nod up top. Leao will have an enforced rest after this game as he has to serve a suspension for the upcoming game at Napoli. The two controversial yellows at Sampdoria may dent Milan’s Serie A defense but he can make it up with goals and assist versus the Croatian champions.

De Ketelaere or Diaz will play alongside Leao as will Messias. Although Saelemaekers put his name on the score sheet last week and may get a start instead of the Brazilian. Tonali and Bennacer will start in midfield. Kjaer has deputised in central defense but this game should see the now normal Kalulu, Tomori duo play with Theo and possibly Dest. Captain Calabria may be rested for the upcoming Napoli game. Maignan will start in goal as long as he is healthy and able.

The reigning Croatian champions travel to San Siro once again dominating the Hrvatska nogometna liga. Veteran Mislav Orsic leads the line once again and he scored the lone goal in the Champions League match day one upset win over Chelsea.

There is always more about this match and others on the forums.

Notes On A Ref Dominated 2-1 Away Win At Sampdoria

Kjaer and Pobega were among the now non regulars taking the field in the midst of the busy schedule. Origi was expected to start as well but became unavailable lat in the week, Giroud started once again.

Leao had an early chance that was blocked and diverted for a corner. Sampdoria responded with same.

Milan opened the scoring with a very well worked team goal. First Leao won the ball and stormed the box, his ball found Giroud which the ended up going through De Ketelaere and finally Leao left the ball for Messias with the better angle and he beat Emil Audero for 1-0. Sampdoria got the goal back when Filip Duricic hit the crossbar with a curling long shot.

Charles De Ketelaere thought to have a scored a close range headed goal following another well created passage of play but a lengthy VAR and pitch side monitor check called it back. For reasons not apparent to most.

The game proceeded somewhat disjointed with Giroud having best chance before half time as his shot met a good Audero reflex save. Half time score of 0-1 could have been more.

The second half’s first action was Leao somehow getting a yellow for his leg, while attempting a bicycle kick, making contact with Alex Ferrari’s head. As it was his second yellow, he got sent off. With Milan a man down Sampdoria took advantage, with questionable marking and defending Duricic headed in to tie the game. An offside check was done and the goal awarded, just as importantly was the defending missing attackers with Tonali and Calabria the closest players to the scorer very close to the goal line. Tomori came on for Messias and soon after Theo had Milan’s next best chance as his shot from the top of the box was diverted into a corner.

Milan retook the lead courtesy of yet another VAR decision. The ball was shot into the box from a corner and VAR judged that Gonzalo Villar had made arm contact. A foul that is as bizarre as VAR itself. Giroud converted the penalty. Bennacer replaced De Ketelaere for the last 19 minutes of the game. Vranckx came on for Pobega for his Milan debut while Sampdoria made subs of their own and brought on 39 years old Fabio Quagliarella.

With time winding down and Sampdoria pressing for an equalizer Maignan saved Milan twice stopping Manolo Gabbiadini. Late into the seven minutes of added time Marco Giampaolo got his marching orders after an exchange with the referee.

The three points were bagged but this was a potentially expensive result as Leao is set to miss week 7’s match versus Napoli. Refereeing did not enhance it’s reputation either.

Week 6: Sampdoria – Milan

A big statement win in the derby brought on more expectations and optimism. In the process Leao’s star rose higher, the Portuguese scored twice and assisted in the come from behind 3-2 game. The midweek Champions League tie at Salzburg tempered those same hopes.

The busy schedule will continue to weigh on the team without the most quality depth. Playing this week 6 Sampdoria match four days before hosting Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League’s match day 2 and then another four days before hosting Napoli will test this young Milan. The team’s positive attitude has endured from early on in Pioli’s reign and needs to be sustained for a successful Serie A and Champions League season.

The aforementioned means that the starting 11 will look different versus the low lying Sampdoria. Marco Giampaolo’s men are in the 18th spot so far in the 2022-2023 Serie A season and have scored only two goals in its first five league games.

Origi, Pobega and Kjaer are likely to start in Giroud, Bennacer and Tomori’s place. Diaz or De Ketelaere could also be a rotating spot. Calabria, Kalulu, Theo, Tonali, Leao and Messias are the likely more regular starters for the time being. Of course the latter may be rotated with Saelemaekers and possibly even Dest. Maignan will start in goal whenever available as well.

Other news of the week include Tonali extending his contract by one year to 2027 while getting a more than 50% raise in reported salary.

There is always more about this match and others on the forums.

Disappointing 1-1 Draw In Champions League Start

Milan failed to capitalize of Chelsea’s loss to Dinamo Zagreb earlier in the day and could only manage a 1-1 at RB Salzburg away.

A mostly expected starting 11 gave a sometimes tired performance and the only goal came from an often unexpected source, Saelemaekers. Salzburg had opened the scoring through Noah Okafor before the Belgian equalized.

The second half included poor mistakes and inability to break down the hosts. Milan will host Dinamo Zagreb next week with the Croatian the very early leaders of Group E.

Read more about the game on the forums.

2022 2023 Champions League Starts At Salzburg

In what could be called a relatively easy group Milan have to face Chelsea, Austrian champions RB Salzburg and Croatian Champions Dinamo Zagreb in the 2022 20223 Champions League group stage. It will be a busy group stage as it is set to conclude in time for the World Cup break in November.

Milan start with a trip to a sold out Red Bull Arena to face RB Salzburg who have won the Austrian Bundesliga nine times in a row.

In order to fulfill UEFA squad and homegrown quotas Milan had leave out Tatarusanu, Ibrahimovic, Bakayoko, Vranckx, Thiaw and Adli from the Champions League list and settle for a smaller 23 man squad for the group stage phase. Florenzi is included while being injured, to help the homegrown numbers.

The line up will likely be unsurprising. Maignan, Calabria, Kalulu, Tomori and Theo will be at the back. It may be too early since his arrival but Dest might get some minutes on the right. Tonali and Bennacer have had good starts to the season and will be likely starters throughout. The front four remains less certain as Messias, Saelemaekers, Diaz and De Ketelaere present choices for Pioli. Either Giroud or Origi will play up front with Rebic not fully fit. Leao, the star of the derby win with two goals and an assist will look to help Milan progress in the Champions League.

Salzburg will be led by their current highly rated and top scorers in Nicolas Seiwald, Noah Okafor and Fernando. In line with the Red Bull mission the Austrians are a very young team and will be a tricky opponent.

There is always more about this match and others on the forums.

Notes On An Open 3-2 Derby Win

The first deby of the 2022-2023 season came relatively early. De Ketelaere had an early chance to test Samir Handanovic in Inter’s goal and later Leao almost beat the keeper.

It was Inter who scored first however. Milan playing high and not watchin Inter players well led to Marcelo Brozovic running free down the middle and easily beat Maignan with a low soft shot.

The game was tense with Denzel Dumfires and Theo having gotten yellows earlier and looked to continue that way when Hakan Calhanoglu’s poor shot was recovered by Tonali who found Leao. The Portuguese shot well and bear Handanovic in the far corner to tie the game.

Milan grew into the game and the confidence led to some minutes of domination with Leao, Giroud and Tonali missing consecutive chances. The half ended with Milan the better tam but lots more needed to be done.

Theo had another header chance early in the second that just missed the target following a deflected free kick. With the momentum still on Milan’s side the second goal arrived. With Inter looking in somewhat of cconfused state Leao found Giround who sneakily beat Handanovic. More was to come.

Giroud assisted Leao who danced through the defenders and beat the Inter goalie in a similar way as his first. Diaz came on for De Ketelaere and Inter made three subs. Inter narrowed the scoreline moments later Dzeko just beat Maignan from close range with Milan’s back four not looking the most solid. Momentum had shifted.

Saelemaekers and Origi came on for Messias and Giroud for fresh legs. Maignan was equal to the task when tested with punches and good feet. Origi had a chance but tried to do too much himself. Pobega and Kjaer came on for Tonali and Calabria for a changed formation to try to contain the opponent’s momentum.

The game was open and it seemed the score could change any moment, it was equally on edge and tense as is to be expected. Milan hung on for a very precious number of points.