Monthly Archive: December 2016

Supercoppa vs Juve

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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Week 17: Milan – Atalanta

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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.

Week 16: Roma – Milan

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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.

Week 15: Milan – Crotone

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.