Monthly Archive: February 2017

Week 26 Sassuolo – Milan

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Week 25’s 2-1 win over Fiorentina provided three important points and somewhat revived the dimming European football hopes for next season. The injury situation made for another almost second choice lineup with Gomez and Vangioni covering for the missing Romagnoli and De Sciglio. Defensively the game wasn’t always convincing and Sosa in midfield was poor without the ball and was little help for the defense. The Argentinian’s start was also somewhat perplexing as Montella seems to have benched Locatelli for now. In the end good finishes by Kucka and Deulofeu mattered most and three points were very welcome.

Sassuolo are up next and the so called Milan nemesis, Domenico Berardi, has recently returned from injury and is getting back in to form just in time to possibly hurt Milan again.

Milan’s own injury situation sees De Sciglio back in the squad but possibly not starting. Romagnoli and Antonelli are still not ready so the defense might remain identical to week 25 with a possibility that Zapata takes up Gomez’s place. The midfield looks to be anchored by Sosa again with Bertolacci and Kucka around him.

The misfiring Bacca apparently refused another China offer to stay at Milan. The loyalty that he has shown to Milan is very commendable but his goal production and effort on the ball are much less so. In recent months Milan has missed a poacher and goalscorer as much as any other player. The Colombian seems to have the coach’s trust however, and will start with Deulofeu and Suso.

If all goes as planned and reported this will be Milan’s last match of the Berlusconi era! Forza Milan.

Week 25 Milan – Fiorentina

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In retrospect the week 24 1-1 tie at Lazio was not the worst result possible. Having to play with 3 out of 4 regular defenders missing and not allowing a goal from open play should be acceptable – Lazio’s only goal came when Biglia converted a penalty after Donnarumma was judged to have brought down Ciro Immobile. Suso salvaged a late point when it again looked unlikely.

The full back injury situation was and is not helping and will affect this week 25 match as well. Antonelli and De Sciglio are still a week or two away from action but Calabria is back in the squad. Romagnoli is still out but Paletta is back from yet another and now seemingly continual red card suspension. News is that middle three will be led by Sosa and not Locatelli, the teenager was surprisingly subbed early vs Lazio and Montella seems to want to use Sosa more. The reasons for this is not very obvious but Locatelli does shows signs of inexperience. Bertolacci and Kucka are the likely starters and in front of them Bacca will once again start. For the Lazio match Montella opted for the so called false 9 formation with no recognized strikers in the line up. Deulofeu played with Suso and Ocampos but the experiment is unlikely to survive.

If all goes as planned or rumoured this could the last home match of the Berlusconi era as the Chinese may close the sale before Chievo visit the San Siro in two weeks. Time will tell.

Week 24: Lazio – Milan

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The match at Bologna proved one of the more bizarre in memory. To start, the fullback injury situation meant Vangioni got a start. The match itself was mix of poor judgment and poor refereeing. Paletta and later in the second half Kucka got themselves sent off with virtually every foul a yellow courtesy of ref Daniele Doveri. Milan having had started dominantly the first 10 minutes faded quickly due in part to the expulsions. Down to nine men Milan’s substitutions started to look odd on paper with, for example, Gomez coming on for Locatelli. To add to the troubles Romagnoli injured himself in the first half – he will be out for an as of yet undetermined period – and later with all subs used a hard working Poli, himself a sub, had to remain on the pitch after a knock. Finally, with two minutes remaining and to the surprise of most watching Deulofeu dribbled his way into the Bologna zone and cut inside to the rushing Pasalic who scored relatively easily. The 1-0 win will enter the record books as one of the most unlikely.

The injury situation plus the suspensions make for a much weakened team for this Lazio match. Romagnoli, Paletta, De Sciglio, Antonelli, Calabria and Bonaventura are unavailable. The defensive line is therefore at best unreliable. The  aforementioned Vangioni will line up with Zapata, Gomez and Abate. Poli or Bertolacci will line up with Locatelli and Pasalic in midfield. Bacca is due a bench spot because his production has been anything but satisfactory, one can even question his work rate. While Montella apparently considered using Deulofeu as a false 9 in middle of Suso and Ocampos it is Lapadula who is expected to play with Suso and Deulofeu.

Week 18: Bologna – Milan

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This match was originally scheduled for the same week as the supercoppa and it is being played on February 8th instead. That same supercoppa win versus Juventus is now close to a distant memory and it is very much going to be the highlight of the season. The team has struggled since and even fallen out of the European spots in the Serie A standings.

The latest set back came against Sampdoria, the injury riddled squad forced Montella into somewhat creative changes with Kucka lining up as right back – though he was in reality playing as a right midfield. The 0-1 end result was both unlucky and poor.

Abate and Calabria are near fit and the line up will look more normal versus Bologna. Meeting a team that was crushed 1-7 (versus Napoli) during the weekend makes this a required win. The central defenders will remain Paletta and Romagnoli. Locatelli was always likely to return to the starting line up and in any event Sosa received two yellows versus Sampdoria and is not available. Pasalic and Kucka are set to be the other midfielders. Bacca, who once again showed angered at getting subbed, will start in between Suso and Deulofeu to retain the usual 4-3-3.

We may be approaching the conclusion of the Chinese takeover saga with more reports that the deal will close before long. The future may just be brighter but this season may end just as poorly as recent ones, on paper at least.

Week 23: Milan – Sampdoria

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It is safe to say 2017 hasn’t started well for Milan. The team hasn’t won a game in over three weeks in a year only five weeks old. The dreams of finishing top three – or even that optimistic talk of top two – are rapidly fading.

The team is also suffering its first injury crisis in a long time. The injury issue has affected the full back situation most of all but has also hit the creative heart of the team.

De Sciglio will miss around a month after injuring himself versus Udinese. Antonelli, Abate and Calabria are fighting knocks and only the latter has a chance of making it for this Sampdoria match. That leaves the team with only one recognized full back in Vangioni. Vangioni has barely played of course and is well on his way to being on the list of worst Galliani signings ever. His fitness and/or lack of suitability is made even more stark when one sees that he is unlikely to start even in this situation. There is some tactical reasons for it, Sampdoria play with two center forwards in Muriel and Fabio Quagliarella, but Montella is contemplating using three central defenders in lieu of using Vangioni. If that is the case Romagnoli will get to play as a left defender/left back with Paletta and Zapata beside him. The whole back four situation has also turned into somewhat of a farce with the attempt to entice Martin Caceres to Milan. The Uruguayan is without a team and has passed a medical but is yet to agree on a contract. The need for a full back is urgent but it seems that Caceres will not be able to see action soon enough to be of help when needed most. He is therefore likely be another surplus signing if he is added to the team later instead of now.

The team will be missing Bonaventura the most, he is out for the rest of the season after injuring his abductor muscle and requiring surgery. Kucka, Bertolacci and Pasalic will be in the midfield and somewhat controversially it is said that Locatelli will be benched in favor of Sosa. Locatelli made a crucial mistake in the lead up to Udinese’s first goal last week and that came after getting sent off against Juventus days earlier. With talent and age firmly on his side he will surely return to the starting line up next week against Lazio. Up front the absence of Bonaventura will be filled with Deulofeu or possibly the latest Milan player Ocampos. The Argentina winger arrived at the deadline on loan from Marseille, via Genoa.