Category: RG

Week 13: Milan – Fiorentina

Milan – Fiorentina Saturday November 25 2023 20:45CET

An international break ends with a Milan in crisis mode and Milan Lab as busy as ever. While Pioli’s training methods are under severe scrutiny for the number of (muscular) injuries it should also be noted that Milan’s injury troubles predate Pioli. However, as it stands Milan are on the verge of trouble with Champions League spot is still at risk despite the win against PSG. Pioli’s job is under threat as well and wins are needed.

As mentioned Milan are in an injury crisis with all of Sportiello, Kalulu, Kjaer, Pellegrino, Bennacer, Leao and Okafor out short or long term. Leao and Okafor returned injured from international duty to add yet more pressure on Pioli and Milan and severely test any offensive depth Milan have. Add to that Giroud’s suspension and it falls on Jovic to start in attack. The Serbian has featured little so far and done even less. Chukwueze has some fans uttering the flop word and Pulisic has cooled off from his strong start. Loftus-Cheek struggling with illness means the unimpressive Pobega will start. Back in defense the only options available are Thiaw and Tomori with Kjaer, Pellegrino and Kalulu out in order of short to long term. as one other illustration of the personnel problems facing the team highly rated 15 year old forward Francesco Camarda has been called up for the bench and has some fans calling for the player to get minutes.

Giacomo Bonaventura’s Fiorentina are somehow in sixth place despite losing three of the last four in the Serie A. As much as ever the fight for the top four spot is a hard one and of course Milan can not afford to lose to Vincenzo Italiano’s men nor can they afford to lose three days later to Dortmund.

Follow this match and more on the forum.

Week 11: Milan – Udinese

Milan – Udinese Saturday November 4 2023 20:45CET

A 2-2 tie at Napoli felt like a loss. Giroud had finished two headed goals but Napoli were allowed back into the game. The hosts’ two second half goals extended Milan’s winless streak. As is seemingly customary a number of injuries were added to the list for Milan Lab.

Kalulu will be out for four month after rupturing tendon and going under the knife. Pellegrino who had come on as Kalulu’s sub also left the game and will miss many weeks. Add to the Pulisic was subbed out at half time but should be out only a few days. However, Kjaer could be ready for the bench after missing time.

Romero, or possibly Okafor, will start in Pulisic’s spot. The subpar Leao will need to follow Giroud and snap out of his goal scoring drought. In the middle Krunic will, as often the case, be preferred and start with Musah and Reijnders. At the back the options are even more limited. Calabria, Thiaw, Tomori and Theo will start with Maignan in goal. The January market will have Milan searching for a left back and central defender. For the former spot Real Betis’ Juan Miranda continues to be linked.

The struggling Udinese have rehired Gabriele Cioffi for a second stint as coach after sacking Andrea Sottil.

Follow this match and more on the forum.

Week 10: Napoli – Milan

Napoli – Milan Sunday October 29 2023 20:45CET

A battered Milan on the precipice of a crisis will travel to the Maradona to visit the reigning Serie A champions Napoli. Losing 3-0 to PSG in Paris exposed the team’s limitation and heightened pressure on Pioli especially when it comes to the tactics that allowed the likes of Kylian Mbappe plenty of room to run into. Milan looked second best all over the pitch and have now scored zero goals in three Champions League matches. Giroud looks closer to retirement and Leao huffs and puffs tamely. Injuries limit options even more with Okafor and Jovic unavailable or just simply ineffective.

Napoli will be missing Victor Osimhen and not exactly impressed so far this but Khvicha Kvaratskhelia seems to be regaining form. Facing Rudi Garcia’s men will be Calabria, Kalulu, Tomori and Theo. Thiaw is suspended following a poor red last weekend. Adli is set to keep a starting place as Krunic’s post injury return has been mediocre and worse. Reijnders and Mush should start alongside the Frenchman. With Okafor and Jovic uncertain for the weekend Giroud will likely get another chance to get going. Just weeks ago the French forward was looking ok but has declined and voices for a young forward as early as January are getting louder. Lille’s Canadian Jonathan David is a favoured but expensive option. Pulisic and Leao should play on the wings with little other healthy options available for the team.

Follow this match and more on the forum.

Champions League Matchday 3: PSG – Milan

PSG – Milan Wednesday October 25 2023 21:00CET

An unimpressive Juventus managed to beat Milan 1-0 via a Manuel Locatelli deflected goal. The result was disappointing and while injuries, as is typical for a Milan team, played a part the game was winnable on paper. Maignan and Theo’s suspensions didn’t help wither but Mirante, deputizing for the injured Sportiello, did well when called up on.

Travelling to PSG is not an easy task. The French capital team have not exactly set Europe, of France for that matter, ablaze but in players like Kylian Mbappe have game winners of course.

Milan will be missing Sportiello, Loftus- Cheek and Chukwueze, in addition to Bennacer. Calabria might be on the bench and be spared the duty of defending Mbappe. Krunic, back from injury and often criticized as a Pioli favorite, will likely start ahead of Adli.

The Bosnian did not have good minutes in the sub appearance against Juventus. Giroud and Leao need to get going again in the goal scoring department. Milan’s young, two game Champions League season so far has produced exactly zero goals. Dropping more points will deepen the dent of this European season.

Gianluigi Donnarumma will continue to be the focus of Milan fans’ ire as the goalkeeper’s agent repeated claims that he never wanted to leave Milan. This, more or less, doesn’t match with the reality of the contract offers that were forwarded to the player for more than a year before he left Milan on a free transfer.

Follow this match and more on the forum.

Week 9: Milan – Juventus

Milan – Juventus Sunday October 22 2023 20:45CET

Milan entered the international break after an eventful win in Genoa. The week 8 match ended 1-0 in Milan’s favour via a late Pulisic goal but the much needed win was overshadowed by what happened even later in the match. Maignan was shown a red for a knee to Caleb Ekuban’s head. As Milan had exhausted all subs Giroud put on the goalkeeper’s gloves and proceeded to make a (closed eye) save to rescue the win.

As is now normal the international break has produced new injuries. Chukwueze has returned from international duty with Nigeria with hamstring issues. Late in the week it has been revealed that Sportiello, due to play because of the aforementioned Maignan red, has calf issues and will miss some days. This means Mirante will start in goal versus Juventus. Theo is also missing this match due to yellow cards accumulation. Florenzi and Calabria are going to be the full backs lining up with Thiaw and Tomori in the back. Loftus-Cheeks, Kalulu and Krunic are still unlikely to feature in this game but should all be close to return. The midfield will therefore be Musah, Adli and Reijnders. Up front Pulisic, Giroud and Leo should get another start together.

Juventus are four points and two places behind league leaders Milan. Mattia De Sciglio, Alex Sandro and Danilo are Bianconeri’s missing players.

Follow this match and more on the forum.

Week 8: Genoa – Milan

Genoa – Milan Saturday October 7 2023 20:45CET

Another stalemate with poor finishing being the most talked about aspect left Milan’s Champions League hopes dented. The inability to convert chances in Dortmund increased the pressure on the likes of Giroud and Pioli as well. With no goals scored in the two Champions League games so far Milan will head to PSG later in October in hopes of doing more. Somewhat conversely the Serie A fortunes have improved since the derby drubbing but the busy schedule allows for little recuperation.

The above mentioned whirlwind of games means that Giroud for example is line for another rest. Okafor will deputize. Pulisic could be getting a day off with Chukwueze starting in his place, Leao should retain his spot however. There are little options in midfield with Loftus-Cheek and Krunic out at least until after the upcoming international break. With Pobega, at best, struggling Musah, Adli and Reijnders should be the three starting in the middle. Calabria is not in great form either and Florenzi will be the one taking his place. Thiaw, Tomori and the just turned 26 Theo will complement the back line and start in front of Maignan.

Genoa feature Messias and are now coached by former Milan player Alberto Gilardino. Il Grifone sit in 14th spot as of this weekend but have perhaps looked better than their position indicates.

Follow this match and more on the forum.

Champions League Matchday 2: Borussia Dortmund – Milan

Borussia Dortmund – Milan Wednesday October 4 2023 21:00CET

The derby rout has been followed by mostly positive results. Milan played well and beat Lazio 2-0 in their latest match. Injuries, inevitably, are on the rise however. The good news has been that Maignan was able to return and not remain out long term, even though Sportiello deputized well in the Frenchman’s absence.

The goal now is to reverse the 0-0 stalemate versus Newcastle in the Champions League opener. With two PSG matches ahead Dortmund need to be beaten for Milan to have a chance for the knockout stage of the 2023-2024 Champions League.

The midfield will be missing Krunic, Loftus-Cheek and of course Bennacer. Loftus-Cheek’s limped off on the weekend but his injury is thought to be short term and his presence will be missed. Pioli has only four options with three of them set to start in the 4-3-3. Adli looks to be the odd man out with Musah, Reijnders and Pobega likely starters. Giroud will return to the starting line up and needs to be more effective contributor throughout the whole match. Okafor has done well in relief. Pulisic and Leao are in good form and provide good threat on the wings. Calabria is predicted to start with Florenzi on the bench. Thiaw, Tomori and Theo will complete the back four.

The now Jude Bellingham-less Dortmund feature Marcel Sabitzer, although he is out injured. The perennial second best to Bayern team could opt to play a midfield heavy 3-5-2.

Follow this match and more on the forum.

Week 7: Milan – Lazio

Week 7 Milan – Lazio Saturday September 30 18:00CET

A changed team featuring Okafor, Chukwueze and notably Adli in the starting 11 overcame an early setback and goal conceded to beat struggling Cagliari 3-1. Adli’s appearance as a starter was a surprise and was praised afterwards. The midfielder played a more central somewhat creative role and upped his reputation.

The question right after the match, partly due to the busy schedule, was that if Adli is to keep his place. Playing Lazio, even though they are not exactly in great form, is a different animal than playing 19th placed Cagliari. The predicted lineup of the local press now claim that he will indeed keep his place. Giroud and Leao though, will return to the starting line up along with Pulisic. Reijnders and Loftus-Cheek should start as well. The only other question mark is which of Calabria or Florenzi will start. Thiaw, Tomori and Theo should keep the other back four places.

Latest news also confirm that Maignan has recovered and can start. Sportiello deputized more than capably and should be trusted if the French number 1 goalkeeper needs more time off.

Lazio have two wins out of six to start the season and sit in the 12th spot. The summer saw a big change for the Biancocelesti as Sergej Milinkovic-Savic departed for the Saudi riches. Their midfield now features newcomers like Matteo Guendouzi, Nicolo Rovella and others. Lazio also ended up being the Daichi Kamada’s destination. The Japanese attacking midfielder was steps away from joining Milan on a free transfer this past summer.

Follow this match and more on the forum.

Week 6: Cagliari – Milan

Cagliari – Milan Wednesday September 27 2023 18:30CET

An underwhelming, lackluster 1-0 win versus Verona was nevertheless a welcome three points. For the week 5 match Pioli somewhat inexplicably switched to a 3-4-3 using Florenzi higher on the pitch. The game was devoid of much drama however and an early Leao goal was probably the only noteworthy point or highlight.

Week 6 comes quickly on a weekday as the schedule ramps up as is usual in world football. The idea of giving a rest to Giroud was mentioned for week 5 but it seems that the Frenchman will get a rest for this visit to the Rossoblu. Jovic is the backup who has shown little in the minutes he has gotten so far. Maignan is not ready and could be out another few days so Sportiello will get another start in goal. The goalkeeper showed flashes of great reflexes in the weekend start. Neither Calabria nor Hernandez seem 100% fit but both may start in a return to a 4-3-3. The midfield looks to feature Loftus-Cheek, Reijnders and Pobega. Reijnders is being used in Krunic’s more defensive role and it is interesting to see that he is perhaps the best performing summer signing so far. Musah could start in Pobega’s place and he showed a good deal of promise over the weekend.

Claudio Ranieri led Cagliari are winless in the first five games of the season and feature a long injured list that has the likes of Gianluca Lapadula, Leonardo Pavoletti, Marko Rog and Jakub Jankto either out or not fully fit.

Follow this match and more on the forum.

Week 5: Milan – Verona

Milan – Verona Saturday September 23 2023 15:00CET

The derby humiliation was followed by a 0-0 tie versus Newcastle in the opening night of the new Champions League season. The Newcastle game featured a dominant Milan, particularly in the first half, who was nevertheless unable to beat Nick Pope or finish chances. Leao and others needed and need to be more focused and play a simple game. One particular point of criticism was Leao attempting backheel right in front of Newcastle’s goal. The Portuguese could have opted to turn and try to tap in the ball but didn’t. This message seems obvious but is not always put into practice.

As the season progresses injuries do keep being added. Maignan, by now developing an injury prone tag, went down during the Newcastle game and fortunately his time on the sidelines is expected to be short. Sportiello will deputize. Loftus-Cheek did also come off during the aforementioned game but his injury is not thought to be serious. There is also a Pulisic/Chukwueze rivalry developing. Pulisic may still hold the upper hand for the right wing position but Pioli is non-committal and unpredictable. The two players’ availability is of course a plus for depth of the team.

There is word that Pioli might opt for more rotation and possibly even a 3-4-3. The mooted 3-4-3 will feature Florenzi moving up and joining Musah, Reijnders and Krunic in midfield. The back three will be a trio of Kjaer, Tomori and Thiaw. In both cases Pulisic, Giroud and Leao are the most likely starters. If Giroud needs rest Okafor is the most likely to be given the chance to play up front.

Follow this match and more on the forum.