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.

Champions League Matchday 5 Dinamo Zagreb vs Milan

Dinamo Zagreb vs Milan October 25 2022 21:00CET

Milan have climbed to second spot in the 2022-2023 Serie A standings. Wins versus Verona and Monza in a relatively easy stretch of games have allowed Milan the chance to accumulate points. The Champions League fate so far has been somewhat different. Losing twice to Chelsea home and away has meant Milan dropping to third spot in Group E. Beating Dinamo Zagreb away will be needed and crucial in preserving the chance for the Champions League knockout rounds.

Milan travel to Croatia with a whole set on injuries. The long term absences include Calabria, Florenzi, Ibra and Saelemaekers. Maignan was close to a return but a new injury put him on the long term list too. Added to this is Dest who is set to miss this game after a knock versus Monza during the weekend. Diaz is not 100% either but is reportedly travelling with the team.

Tatarusanu will have to continue in goal. Kalulu, Gabbia, Kjaer and Theo will have to start at the back with Tomori suspended with the controversial red versus Chelsea. Bennacer, Tonali and Krunic seem the likely midfielders with Leao, Giroud and either of Rebic or Messias up front. Leao got some much needed rest versus Monza but came on as a substitute and scared many with a wince and delighted many more with another goal.

Dinamo Zagreb continue to lead the way in Croatia and are still undefeated in the HNL. The weekend featured the fierce Hajduk Split rivalry that ended with a 1-1 tie. Bruno Petkovic scored for Zagreb from a penalty.

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Notes On A 4-1 Win Versus Galliani’s Monza

Milan 4-1 Monza
Diaz 16’ 41’ Origi 65’ Leao 84’ ~ F.Ranocchia 70’

Starting 11: Tatarusanu; Dest, Kjaer, Tomori, Theo; Bennacer, Pobega; Messias, Diaz, Rebic; Origi

It was Berlusconi and Galliani’s first encounter with Milan as owner and CEO of Monza, the CEO was in the stands along with others like Capello.

It was a changed team partially influenced by the very heavy schedule facing the team leading up to the Qatar World Cup. Kjaer was back to the starting 11 and Origi got his first Milan start. Rebic, Pobega, Dest also started with Tonali, Giroud and Leao on the bench for badly needed rest. Bennacer had a fever late in the week but had recovered to start. De Ketelaere had returned to the bench as well.

It was a relatively quiet first few minutes until Diaz received a Tatarusanu clearance and ran almost half the pitch and while falling had the strength and awareness to shoot the ball in. Monza woke up and gained some of the possession. Stefano Sensi tested Tatarusanu with a long shot in one of the better chances. Minutes later Tatarusanu made a good reflex save from Monza header. Origi with some good footwork shot just wide in the 33rd minute but it was Monza that had reacted better to the Milan goal.

Diaz doubled Milan’s lead. Origi had been roaming on the right, he beat the defender and crossed to Diaz. The Spanish turned and beat Michele Di Gregorio.

The half time score was therefore 2-0.

The second started with Kalulu replacing Dest. An early Rebic chance was saved. In yet more muscle injuries Diaz was forced off and replaced by De Ketelaere. Leao and Gabbia replaced Rebic and Kjaer too. Origi was showing a few glimpses of promise and he scored a screamer. Messias dribbled and got the ball to him and the Belgian shot empathically.

The shut out was broken when Filippo Ranocchia beat Tatarusanu directly from a very well taken free kick. Leao added to the score from a typical Theo assist soon after Vranckx had provided relief for Origi. Milan had further chances – notably a De Ketelaere miss kick – and Monza threatened on another two occasions.

The game ended with a much needed big score of 4-1.

Week 11: Milan – Monza

Milan vs Monza October 22 2022 18:00CET

Milan struggled to get three points in Verona. Tonali heroics and some luck and hard work (late Thiaw cameo included) helped Milan escape the Marcantonio Bentegodi with full points.

A week without Champions League football was hoped to help some of the injured and provide more rest for all. Some positive news on the injury front has arrived with Kjaer back in the squad and De Ketelaere almost there but Wednesday brought fears that Maignan, said to be almost ready too, has suffered a calf injury. If initial reports hold true the French goalkeeper might miss several more weeks. His spot in France’s World Cup squad could be at risk too.

Tatarusanu, not the most convincing, but doing reasonably well might have to do for a while longer. Kalulu, Gabbia, Tomori and Theo have little relief except Kjaer and the aforementioned Thiaw. Bennacer and Tonali will get the start barring rest or injury requirements. Adli started versus Verona and showed a few glimpses but the Frenchman’s absence so far in the season has been puzzling many commentators and fans. Krunic, Vranxcks and Pobega are available for the middle of the pitch.

Messias, Diaz and Leao will start in the attacking positions but Leao needs rest. Hosting Monza may be the best time for it. Giroud is another that is being overused and in need of rest. Rebic or Origi can deputize. The former has done well in recent substitute appearances.

Monza are of course owned by Silvio Berlusconi and ran by Adriano Galliani. The latter is sure to be in the stands and the self confessed forever Milan fan may be conflicted, at least somewhat. The biancorossi have won three of their last four since replacing Giovanni Stroppa with Raffaele Palladino as their coach.

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