Jan 212017

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For the second game in a row, versus the same team, Milan fell behind with a poor and not good enough first half. Week 20 had Milan fall behind 0-2 at Torino – and almost 0-3 if Adem Ljajic hadn’t missed the penalty. But much the same as the previous Thursday’s Coppa match Milan overcame the first half sleepiness and scored twice to salvage something, but one point instead of three this time.

The game had two victims however, and their absence will change the nature of the week 21 match versus Napoli. Locatelli was a yellow away form suspension and got himself suspended for Napoli. Romagnoli, in one of his poorest matches in memory, was expelled for two yellows and misses Napoli too. Gomez will start in his now customary back up role, but midfield is a bit more complicated. Will Montella use Bertolacci in the middle and surround him with two of Kucka, Pasalic and Sosa or use Sosa in the middle and use two of the others?

Up front Bonaventura has pushed Niang to the bench and there are also signs that the Frenchman is transfer bound. Several EPL teams may be interested. A transfer seems more likely with the now strong possibility of Gerard Deulofeu arriving on loan from Everton.

Abate and Calabria will be the full backs as De Sciglio and Antonelli are not ready, though the latter is back with the squad after missing the last 2 weeks.

Napoli are in good form (WWDWW in last 5) and come into this match with players like Dries Mertens on fire.

Jan 162017

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Less than 96 hours after defeating Torino at the San Siro to reach the Coppa Italia quarter finals the two teams meet again in Serie A. The first half of the Coppa match last Thursday was an exhibition in tiredness, Bonaventura exemplified it in looking like an old man vs Torino. Almost inevitably Torino took the lead with a well taken goal by this season’s much talked about player Andrea Belotti. The second half started slowly but Milan seemed to wake up and find another gear, eventually the aforementioned Bonaventura scored the winning goal shortly after Kucka had equalized.

The more regular starters are sure to be back for this match. Locatelli will reclaim his spot from Sosa and Bacca will start instead of Lapadula.

Elsewhere Romagnoli is back after illness but De Sciglio looks to have joined Antonelli on the sidelines. Calabria and Abate, himself substituted due to injury in the Coppa match, will be the full backs. Since the midfield will be the trio of Kucka and Bertolacci and of course Locatelli the forward three will likely be Boanventura and Suso around Bacca. Arguably Bonaventura needs rest the most but Niang will remain on the bench. The Frenchman’s stock has fallen in recent weeks and there are a few whispers, however unlikely, that he may be sold this January.

The rivals for the European spots have been doing well recently, including Fiorentina beating Juventus on Sunday, and the team has slipped to sixth – with a game in hand on everybody except Juventus –  so points and wins matter even more now. The coming weeks will be another test for this young team. Forza Milan.

Jan 122017

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The 2016-2017 Coppa Italia has Milan joining the tournament and meeting Torino, who beat Pisa in the previous round, in the last sixteen. This game comes just days before a league meeting the two teams as well.

There will be some changes for this match, it is likely that a few of the bench and returning players get to start. Sosa, Bertolacci and Calabria are the names that might get a taste of action. There was also a brief thought that 16 year old Alessandro Plizzari might get his Milan debut in goal but that is not too likely, Donnarumma looks to keep his place and now that there is a backup in Storari there is some added experience in the goalkeeping trio to help the two teenagers. Romagnoli is battling the flu and it is thought that Gomez will start alongside Paletta. Lapadula looks to start as well and Bonaventura will probably move forward to Niang’s spot.

Torino have quietly strengthened and added depth and now feature Juan Iturbe too. He will be part of a front line that features Adem Ljajic and one of the biggest stories of the season, Andrea Belotti. The latter has scored 13 goals so far in the Serie A alone and is a subject of big transfer rumours, he may not be a Torino player for too much longer.

The winner of this round gets Juventus in the quarter finals, so both teams have an extra incentive to book a date with the reigning champions.


Jan 082017

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The shootout Supercoppa win versus Juventus at the end of 2016 added an element of optimism to the season and a renewed hope for the youth set up that has of course yielded stars and stars in the making like Donnarumma and Locatelli. The on going Chinese take over saga may come to a positive conclusion (early) in 2017 and any doubts erased soon after but as of January 2017 and its transfer window it is still all speculation and dreams of big spending remain only hopes.

Cagliari featuring Marco Borriello present the first 2017 challenge. Beside Montolivo, the long term absentee, the team is relatively healthy and Mati Fernandez is the only other player missing as Calabria, is back in the squad but unlikely to feature in this game. However, late in the week Kucka suffered a knock and joined the injured list.

Early in the week the thought was that Locatelli might be rested or saved because he is one yellow card away from suspension but news is that he will indeed start and Bertolacci remain on the bench. Locatelli will be joined in midfield by Bonaventura and Pasalic. The front three will be the familiar Niang, Bacca and Suso trio. The defense will also be very familiar and the usual quartet of De Sciglio, Romagnoli, Paletta and Abate are likely starters in front of Donnarumma.

Transfer activity will likely remain underwhelming if not non existent this January but hope springs eternal for the summer with names like Keita Balde, Domenico Berardi and Federico Bernardeschi mentioned. In the meanwhile the target is to qualify for Europe and gain valuable experience on the way.

Dec 232016

Two days before Christmas and in place of the week 18 match at Bologna Milan travel to Doha, Qatar to play Juventus in the Supercoppa. The match can be viewed as a rematch of the Coppa final back in May. That match featured an improved looking Milan stretching Juve into extra time before losing to a Morata goal.

Fast forward seven months and the season has a bit of different look to it. While waiting for the long delayed Chinese takeover, Milan look like a team that can compete and with young players like Locatelli emerging into a young team the future looks brighter than some may have expected. If the promise of Chinese investment does materialize a win here could serve as a springboard into a new era.

In the meanwhile and after a one day delay Milan travel to Doha with almost a full complement of players and look to start a strong 11 and perhaps gain a measure of revenge.

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Dec 172016

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The 1-0 loss to Roma was a disappointment and perhaps a tie was a better reflection of the game itself. Niang missed yet another penalty and piled pressure and question marks on himself, more than on the team itself. After all the team is still in third place and riding higher than expected.

At least in part due to the couple of penalty misses and form in general Niang is likely to see himself on the bench for this week 17 game vs one of the surprises of the season. Atalanta have lost their last two by identical 3-1 scores but are riding high this season and a few of Gian Piero Gasperini’s player have caught the attention of bigger teams including Milan. Defender Mattia Caldara and midfielder Roberto Gagliardini are said to be on Milan’s radar and already attracting inflated rumours. Atalanta also features Andrea Petagna, the once Milan player of course, up front.

Bonaventura and Bacca are back training and available but it is unclear if Montella will use both. The reported likely line up only includes Bonaventura, in Niang’s place. Pasalic and Kucka may get the nod in midfield and Bertolacci may start in Locatelli’s place saving the latter for the Super Coppa match vs Juventus later next week. Bertolacci in the middle of the pitch is a risk Montella seems willing to take as the player did well vs Roma. The defense seems set with only the possibility of Antonelli pushing De Sciglio to the bench.

On the sale front the Chinese deposited a second €100 million into Fininvest’s coffers but the end of the saga is still not in sight and question marks remain, not only about the new March ‘deadline’ but also about the authenticity of the ownership group or consortium.

Dec 122016

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Week 15’s narrow and mostly unimpressive win vs Crotone carried some controversy as Niang took the ball away from Lapadula as the latter picked up the ball to take the penalty awarded to Milan. Niang missed the penalty but Lapadula rescued Milan with a late goal. In the absence of both Bonaventura and Mati due to injury the midfield trio consisting of Sosa, Locatelli and Pasalic seemed lightweight and questionable.

The two players have not recovered and will almost certainly miss a second match in a row. Kucka may have been the alternative but he is suspended and Bertolacci who recently returned to the squad after a long term injury may be as well. However, many indications are that the midfield might remain the same to start the match, or possibly Sosa making way for Bertolacci as some sources claim.

Other absentees include Bacca meaning Lapadula gets another start. The Colombian’s future at Milan is still in question and circumstances off the pitch may dictate his Milan fate. There is a chance that he will be sold in January to raise money while the Chinese sales saga drags on.

Niang may also give way and start on the bench, possibly giving Honda a rare start.

Roma are missing Leandro Paredes, Mohamed Salah and Alessandro Florenzi and for half the week it seemed that Kevin Strootman will miss this and Roma’s next vs Juventus after being suspended for squirting water at Lazio players in Roma’s week 15 match. His ban was somewhat controversially overturned and he will start for Roma. Roma, of course, feature Edin Dzeko, Serie A’s co-top scorer at the week 16 mark (12 goals) and are tied with Milan with 32 points.

Dec 042016

Milan Crotone

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Week 14’s 4-1 win at Empoli didn’t seem a sure thing at half time, with an unimpressive first and a 1-1 score three points didn’t seem a very good possibility. Lapadula starting in place of the injured and absent (and spotted in Spain) Bacca had opened the scoring but another former Milan player, as they often do, had equalized soon after. This time it was Riccardo Saponara scoring a rare Empoli goal. As it transpired the win was comfortable in the end with Empoli dropping their resistance in the second half.

The game was not all good news as Mati Fernandez injured himself early and was joined on the injury list with Bonaventura. Both will miss this Crotone match. The former may be out longer than Bonaventura and both could miss week 16’s encounter against Roma. With the injuries adding up the midfield is now an almost mandatory trio of Locatelli, Sosa and Pasalic, with Kucka perhaps deserving the start over one of Pasalic or Sosa. Bertolacci is back to add another midfield option. Bacca is still out however.

The week’s news was once again dominated by the sale and closing saga and it seems that another delay is on the cards. The saga will likely drag on into the new year adding fuel to doubts that it is ever going to happen. The Chinese seem to have difficulty “authorizing” the cash needed to pay Fininvest. Berlusconi has insisted that the sale will go through in the end but questions seem still unanswered. In the meanwhile expectations for a the January transfer window have nosedived.

Crotone, the newly promoted team, sit tied for last place with Palermo and have not won away so far this season.

Nov 262016

Empoli Milan

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Week 13 and the latest edition of the Milan derby didn’t end the way Milan fans hoped but the point earned in the 2-2 tie is nevertheless valuable. Inter enjoyed the bulk of the possession and Milan could be faulted for sitting back a bit allowing the very late Inter tying goal. However, Suso’s value was enhanced and his two goals added to his status.

Romagnoli’s presence was missed in the derby and while declared fit he might not be risked vs the weak offence of Empoli. The Tuscan team have scored only 6 times in 13 Serie A games and only two of those at home. The low return may mean little however as players like Massimo Maccarone have a habit of raising their game vs Milan. Empoli also feature Milan owned Jose Mauri but he hasn’t featured regularly since being loaned there.

Surprisingly indications are that Montella is making other changes and rotating the squad. Bacca is an enforced one – to be replaced by Lapadula – after picking up an injury late in the derby but reports also say that the starting midfield will feature both Pasalic and Mati Fernandez in place of Kucka and Bonaventura. The latter may be pushed forward with Niang also not starting.

The back four will likely remain the same as the derby with a slight chance of Antonelli replacing De Sciglio.

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