Category: RG

Week 37: Juventus – Milan

Juventus – Milan May 28 2023 20:45CET

Beating the already relegated Sampdoria 5-1 provided some relief and a rare rout for Milan. Combined with Juventus’ now 10 points penalty for false accounting it catapulted Milan to the Champions League spots. On the same day Juventus received news of the new verdict on their 15 points penalty appeal they fell 4-1 to Empoli. Milan now have a chance to confirm a top four spot with one point from this and next week’s final home game versus Verona.

With Bennacer out long term alongside Ibra and Florenzi the line up is somewhat predictable. Maignan will start behind Calabria, Thiaw, Tomori and Theo. Tonali and Krunic will be the midfield pivots behind Diaz, Messias and Leao. Giroud is practically the only option up front. The shift is already focusing to the summer market with Diaz’ fate one of the most talked about. His two year Real Madrid loan is expiring and multiple reports claim Milan will try to buy him for 20 or 30 million. His very inconsistent matches at Milan make that possibility at least a bit questionable. There is lots more on the plate for the summer and some will as always be predicated on Champions League qualification. While we all still wait for Leao’s extension to be confirmed.

Juventus will feature a lot of big names of course with Angel Di Maria, Federico Chiesa and Moise Kean the threats up front. Dusan Vlahovic is out however.

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Week 36: Milan – Sampdoria

Milan – Sampdoria May 20 2023 20:45CET

Exit from the Champions League at the hands of a city rival leaves a bitter taste. With top 4 at serious risk this season is on the verge of a big regression. Pioli, but not solely he, must face the consequences and perhaps be let go. The summer may necessitate big changes but will Milan spend or just follow a elongated series of bargain hunts. Leao may, finally, be set for a long stay at Milan but there is plenty more to fix and improve.

Week 36 has Milan hosting Sampdoria, a team already relegated. Will this mean this is an easy match? History says otherwise. Any chance of securing a Champions League spot rests on beating Sampdoria, and Juve and Verona in the coming weeks as well.

Bennacer, post knee surgery, is the only – long term – absentee. Ibra is of course out as well. There is little quality for Pioli to rely on up front. Giroud will get a start as the fate of Origi is almost sealed. He may not be a Milan player come September. He will rank as one of the bigger disappointments. Diaz, Leao and possibly Messias will play behind the Frenchman. Krunic and Tonali are almost certain starting pivots in front of Theo, Thiaw, Tomori and Calabria. Maignan has done extremely well in the midst of this 2023 crisis and should be Milan’s player of season. His long midseason absence is the only thing that could count against him.

Dejan Stankovic’s men are about to conclude a disastrous season which has been tumultuous on and off the pitch. The team’s Serie B future looks bleak and a quick Serie A return is not the most expected outcome. Ownership questions are anything but settled.

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Champions League Semifinals Second Leg: Inter – Milan

Inter – Milan
May 16 2023 21:00CET Champions League semifinals second leg

Milan have reached a new crisis point. Losing to two early goals to Inter in the Champions League semifinals first leg pushed Milan deeper into a messy end of season. The team followed it up by losing to Spezia by the same score. The so called necessary rotation in this busy stretch has exposed the team’s weaknesses even more than would be expected. Players like Origi and De Ketelaere have shown next to nothing and continue to rank high on any flops list.

Leao is said to be fine and could return for this second leg and his presence is hoped to be the catalyst for a comeback. Overturning a two goal deficit would be one of the most unexpected outcomes but Champions League in particular can be the stage for a Milan surprise. Having said that the chances of not making the final and finishing outside the top 4 in the Serie A are the likeliest scenarios as of right now. The focus has certainly shifted on management and Pioli’s shortcomings and mistakes. One such issue remains the status of Adli. His solid cameo appearance at Spezia added to the many selection questions being asked in recent weeks and months. All in all the team needs a lot more quality if it expects to compete at a higher level. Talk of signings never go away but will accelerate in the coming weeks. If Milan is to miss Europe’s biggest tournament all of the rumours will come with an asterisk attached.

Inter’s form is of course much better than Milan’s and they could run up the score unless the old Champions League DNA thing rescues Milan. Not many line up changes are expected and Milan should be facing Edin Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez once again. It remains to be seen if Leao vs Matteo Darmian, Denzel Dumfries and co. will end up in Milan’s favour.

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Week 35: Spezia – Milan

Spezia – Milan May 13 2023 18:00CET

Most fears came to be realized when a Leao less Milan lost to Inter in the Champions League semifinals first leg. Inter’s two early goals sunk Milan to a 2-0 loss and recovering from the deficit in next week’s return leg will take a monumental effort. In between these games is another meeting with a lowly team. Spezia are in a relegation fight and as is often the case one can expect Milan to struggle to break down such a team. For the same aforementioned reason Pioli will rotate and rest. Recent results when doing so have led to even poorer performances and dropped points. Milan now risk missing out on the much needed top 4 spot and leaving the Champions League tournament empty handed.

Not surprisingly injuries have piled up once again. Bennacer injured his knee during the European derby and will require arthroscopic surgery. The Algerian is therefore out for a few months. Leao will not be risked in the hope that he will be close to 100% next midweek. Now Milan also have to contend with Messias and Krunic carrying knocks. Thiaw has a yellow cards suspension to add to Milan’s selection headaches. All this, ofcourse, leaves Milan with little options. It looks like Kalulu will play in central defense, likely with Tomori as his partner. Pobega might get a start. Vranckx is also a possibility along with Tonali. Up front Giroud is set for rest as the disappointing Origi gets another chance. Speaking of chances and disappointing this looks to be another for De Ketelaere. The Belgian is one of the best definition of ‘not settled’ and this is basically a lost season for the promising attacking player.

The hosts will be without Daniel Maldini who is carrying the muscular injury. Leonardo Semplici’s men have not won a match since they beat Inter in early March.

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Champions League Semifinals First Leg: Milan – Inter

Milan – Inter May 10 2023 21:00CET
Champions League semifinals first leg

Against most expectations Milan have made it to the semifinals of the 2022-2023 Champions League. The opponents can claim to have reached the same stage unexpectedly too. Defeating Napoli in the quarterfinals was a victory against form. Milan had started the calendar year in disastrous form but fortunes had improved somewhat by the time the Champoions League quarter finals came around and the “DNA” showed and Milan beat Serie A leaders. Can the same be done against Inter? Both teams are in a tough and tight league fight for the right to be at next year’s European competition. The rivalry will reach another level having to play two matches inside a week.

Leao limped off very early during the weekend match against Lazio. He claimed that he is fine and could be ready for this match but muscle issues demand caution and he is likely to be replaced by Rebic or perhaps by Saelemaekers and therefore start on the bench. The rest of the starting 11 is likely to be very predictable. Maignan will be behind a back four of Calabria, Kjaer, Tomori and Theo. The latter scored another individual highlight goal in the 2-0 win against Lazio. Tonali and Krunic will continue to start as midfield pivots with Bennacer and Diaz further ahead behind Giroud, to be joined by one of the aforementioned wingers. The game is likely to be a tale of fullback against full back – Theo vs Federico Dimarco in particular – and Inter trying to take advantage of Milan’s defensive line by unleashing Edin Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez behind them and onto Milan’s goal. Form, league form especially, is unlikely to matter with a European final at play.

Romelu Lukaku is likely to be on the bench and there is a chance that ex-Milan player Hakan Calhanoglu will be too. Robin Gosens is on the sidelines joining Milan Skriniar on Inter’s injured list.

The game is expected to bring in record revenue for the team and could be a good international showcase for Serie A, something which it has lacked in recent seasons.

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Week 34: Milan – Lazio

Milan – Lazio May 6 2023 15:00CET

Milan all but threw away a top four spot by dropping yet more points against a lowly team. The 1-1 home tie versus in Cremonese comes amidst a busy run of games that includes the Champions League semis against Inter. The schedule compels coaches to rotate and rest some players of course but Milan’s bench has been shown to be below sub par and Pioli’s use of the players at his disposal questionable. The alarming ineffectiveness De Ketelaere has reached a new low level with the flop word deservedly being used. The lack of an Adli sighting has yet more observers scratching their heads. Giroud and Diaz are among those who need to do more and take their chances more.

With a relatively healthy team and the need to win few surprises are expected. Some reports claim that Diaz will be benched in favour for midweek goal scorer Messias. Otherwise the starting 11 should feature Maignan, Calabria, Kjaer, Tomori and Theo at the back. Tonali and Krunic should be the midfield anchors with Bennacer in the now settled further forward spot. Messias and Leao behind Giroud are the likely forward line.

Mattia Zaccagni is a question mark for Lazio but Sarri’s men count on Ciro Immobile up front. Alessio Romagnoli is of course at the heart of Lazio’s back line.

Lazio had been riding high and still sit second in the Serie A table. Two losses in their last three games comes after an impressive league run earlier in the year. It is of course a must win for Milan if the fading top four chances are to be preserved. Milan are currently in sixth place tied at 58 points with Atalanta and Roma. Lazio are only six points ahead.

Congratulations go out to Napoli for winning their first Scudetto in 33 years.

Week 33: Milan – Cremonese

Milan – Cremonese May 3 2023 21:00CET

Week 32 match at Roma turned out to be a crucial one. The two teams were tied in the standings and lcked in tight battle for a top 4 spot. The match was Mourinho-esque with Roma creating little and Milan locked into unproductive possession. An added time Tammy Abraham goal looked to have won it for the hosts but Saelemaekers, a sub, tapped in an equalizer even deeper into added time. The point has the top four even more of logjam.

With the Champions League semi derby coming up and of course the final six games of the Serie A season as well Milan will need to use rested players for some matches and this meeting with Cremonese will be one of them. The last times Milan started a “B team” it backfired with points dropped against Bologna and Lecce. Milan can not afford more of those outcomes. De Ketelaere, Origi and Vranckx are the likely starters for this midweek match. The former two have shown little to none when playing but must improve as three points is required versus the 19th placed visitors to the San Siro.

Cremonese feature Frank Tsadjout. The name is of course familiar to Milan fans but he is out injured. Cremonese are led by Davide Ballardini. The coach has never led a team for than a year and he has been at the helm of the Grigiorossi only since January.

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Week 32: Roma – Milan

Roma – Milan April 29 2023 18:00CET

Milan, and Leao in particular, bounced back from recent points dropped to gain an important three points versus Lecce. The 2-0 win combined with Roma’s result – a loss at Atalanta – kept Milan hanging on to 4th place in the Serie A standings.

The final stretch of the season is now in full swing with a busy schedule matches in the coming month that includes the Champions League semi fianls of course. The Champions League opponent, Inter, have not shone in the league in recent weeks and sit in sixth place. Champions League tips has the semi finals derby difficult to gauge because both teams have struggled in the league while progressing in Europe.

As it turns out this week 32 match in Roma is a big battle for the top four spot. Fate has the two teams tied at 56 points. Paulo Dybala limped off at the end of Roma’s last match at Atalanta but he is not completely ruled out. Roma will need him if they are to keep their top European qualification spot. Milan will be missing Pobega and Ibra. The latter is pretty much out of the footballing picture unable to stay healthy. He would be well advised to take up a management post with Milan but Ibra is a lion and one never knows what will happen now or next season. Elsewhere on the pitch Kjaer could start in central defense and be the experienced leader for this now very crucial match. Tomori, Calabria and Theo will round up the defense behind Krunic and Tonali who in turn will be behind Bennacer. The more advanced role played by the Algerian has been a success and he will likely keep pushing Diaz to the right. Leao, and his 12 league goals so far, is of course on the left hand side. Giroud should be available again to play up front.

Andrea Belotti is likely to get a start for Roma and another familiar name to Milan fans will too. Stephan El Shaarawy will be meeting Milan again. Mourinho’s men had won three in a row prior to the loss against Gian Piero Gasperini’s Nerazzurri.

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Week 31: Milan – Lecce

Milan – Lecce April 23 2023 18:00CET

Against all odd Milan made it to the Champions League semis by beating Napoli 2-1 in aggregate. The league form, due to changes in the starting line up has not matched the UCL one. It wasn’t easy against Napoli but Maignan, Leao and co shone in the tie and set up a Milan derby Champions League semi final.

As most expected Juventus got their 15 points deduction reversed, pending a new trial. There was little resistance to the team’s appeal and the reversal leapfrogged Juventus to third place and knocked Milan out of the Champions League places. The final games of the season will be crucial to next season’s financial outlook and more.

An injury free team news didn’t last with Pobega and Giroud unable to make the squad. Rebic replaces Giroud up front with Ibra back on the bench. Calabria has a yellow accumulation suspension and is replaced by Kalulu. The starting 11 is Maignan; Kalulu, Thiaw, Tomori, Theo; Krunic, Tonali; Messias, Díaz, Leao; Rebic.

Lecce have struggled for a good part of the season and are currently 16th with last winning in mid February.

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Champions League Quarterfinals Second Leg: Napoli – Milan

Napoli – Milan April 18 2023 21:00CET

Milan scored early, courtesy of Diaz, and hung on to beat Napoli 1-0 in the quarter finals first leg. The second leg will have Milan trying to reach the semi finals of the Champions League and grab a relative big sum of cash that comes with it.

The lineup will likely remain unchanged from the one that beat Napoli at the San Siro as Milan try to replicate the match and eliminate the Serie A leaders from the UEFA competition. Bennacer playing a more advanced role in front of Krunic and Tonali worked well and may be tried again. Diaz pushed to the right has looked very good as well. Giroud is carrying a knock but word is he will be available. This means the starting 11 is likely to be Maignan; Calabria, Kjaer, Tomori, Theo; Krunic, Tonali; Diaz, Bennacer, Leao; and Giroud.

Napoli missed their leading scorer last week but Victor Osimhen makes a return from injury to face Milan. However, several other Napoli players will miss this match through suspension and injury. Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa was sent off versus Milan and Kim Min-jae got himself suspended due to yellow card accumulation. Giovanni Simeone is expected to be sidelined due to injury.

The animosity between the two 11s and indeed the coaches and management as well has grown as the teams are meeting for the third time in a few short days. Spalletti and Maldini’s confrontation after the first leg has been making headlines as has Napoli fans’ insults hurled at Theo and other Milan players.

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