The week 16 match versus Sassuolo finished 0-0. Based on the whole 90 minutes this was perhaps an undeserved result. The first half may have been mediocre or sloppy but it featured another Theo Hernandez goal that was called back after VAR review. For a Kessie barely hand ball moments before the Frenchman had shot in the ball. The second half was close to a domination and featured both a cross bar and a post by Leao. The unlucky Portuguese had come on for the again ineffective Piatek. The other members of Milan’s forward trio also made little to no impact.
With January closing in the subject of transfers and in particular the likelihood of Ibra’s arrival is starting to overshadow the matches. The Swede is apparently willing to come to Milan but money, contract length and a PowerPlay like relationship with his agent, the infamous Mino Raiola of course, is delaying a decision that Milan’s management had hoped would arrive by last week’s 120th birthday of the team. Not that Milan’s sole need is at center forward. The team can use improvement in every position except perhaps left back where Hernandez continues to be a revelation.
However, the left back will miss this week 17 match due the yellow he got last week, so will Paqueta. Rodriguez could get what amounts to a farewell start as he is likely to leave. Borini is another player who is all but confirmed for an exit.
Gabbia and Caldara may be considered in Musacchio’s spot but the defense will likely remain unchanged except for the aforementioned left back forced change. The same goes for midfield where Kessie is keeping Krunic on the bench for unknown reasons. The forward line of Suso, Piatek and Calhanoglu is already given too many chances but it is not expected that Pioli will have a change of heart about the three starters. As repeated and said many times he is not very much into playing two center forwards at the same time. The 4-3-3 will live on for a while yet.
One could argue that fourth place is already out of reach but the progress of recent weeks has at least sown some optimism, so at least there is that.
Atalanta surprised many by reaching the last 16 of the Champions League and it can be claimed that they are overachieving again. Duvan Zapata will miss this match but Papu Gomez and Josip Ilicic are available again.
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