Monthly Archive: February 2020

Week 25: Fiorentina – Milan

After a disappointing period losing to Inter and tying Juventus in typically controversial circumstances the week 24 1-0 win versus Torino was a good result. The team could have done better and taken advantage of the numerous attacking moves to score more but the in form Rebic scored the game’s only goal. Castillejo provided the assist for the first half goal and his movement and energy is serving the team well. A late first half injury had Kjaer limping off to be replaced with Gabbia and not Musacchio who although on the bench was not fully fit. Gabbia was given his Serie A debut and did ok, nerves seemed evident but he came out of the game with passing grades.

The Argentinian is available for this week 25 game however and may start, Gabbia may need to wait for further chances. The right back spot is still a problem position. Conti and Calabria may never become the permanent starters. For now Conti seems slightly ahead for the starting spot. Paqueta started versus Torino but the injured Calhanoglu is almost ready and looks to start again. Bennacer keeps accumulating yellows and needs to learn to control his tackles and challenges but remains a valuable player in the middle. The Algerian will play alongside Kessie. Rebic has earned the right to start in Leao’s spot and Ibra will look to continue to lift the team.

News off the pitch once again dominated the week with the continued rumour that former Leipzig coach and current head of sports development at Red Bull will take over at Milan in the summer. Ralf Rangnick is said to be Gazidis’ choice for all encompassing role at Milan. This of course means Maldini and Boban won’t be around and this has, as expected, triggered a lot of debate. What this all means is unknown but further changes seem likely once again.

Fiorentina crushed Sampdoria 5-1 last week but have otherwise been underwhelming. Giuseppe Iachini replaced Montella in December and has mostly failed to improve his team so far. The 5-1 win featured two goals each by Dusan Vlahovic and Federico Chiesa but Fiorentina now feature Cutrone as well. The ex-Milan forward returned to Italy in the January window and has a chance to play against his former beloved team.

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Week 24: Milan – Torino After An Eventful Week

Week 23 was disappointing. A 2-0 half time lead against the city rivals had shown that the team and Pioli can get things right. Inter’s midfield was anonymous and their defense confused by Ibra, Rebic and others. The two forwards scored but it was already a tied game by the 54th minute. Lack of coverage and intensity started the capitulation. First Marcelo Brozovic shot from distance and beat Donnarumma then Matias Vecino popped up from midfield to just shoot in an Alexis Sanchez return pass. The Chilean had just evaded the offside trap to move in on Donnarumma. Stefan de Vrij scored from a well headed ball and just before the end, as all had given up, Romelu Lukaku jumped higher than Kjaer to make it 4-2. Lots of Pioli vs Conte comparisons followed in the postmortem but Milan had a Coppa semi final first leg to deal with too.

Meeting Juventus many feared the old fragility and loss of confidence issue to make the Coppa Italia game a disaster in waiting. The fear was mostly unforunded, whether this is attributed to the coach or presence of Ibra one can’t be sure but despite numerous yellows the team managed well and took the lead through Rebic, again. The game proceeded towards a win but the refs, aided by the at best confusing hand ball rules, handed a tie to the visitors. Calabria jumped in an attempt to intercept a cross but Ronaldo’s volley hit his arm. A VAR and on pitch review gifted Juve the penalty. Calabria had his back to Ronaldo and was only a few centimeters away from the Portuguese but modern football is unforgiving at best and corrupt at worst.

A busy – and controversial – week means this week 24 match is on a Monday. A free falling Torino dismissed Walter Mazzarri earlier in the month and are led by Moreno Longo, for now. Milan will likely feature a mostly unchanged team from the derby. Conti is suspended due to yellows. The excessive yellows and Hernandez’s red in the Coppa match apply to the Coppa only. There is some question about Calhanoglu’s fitness so Paqueta might be the only other change to the team. Donnarumma at the back with Calabria, Kjaer, Musacchio and Hernandez in defense. Bennacer, Castillejo, Kessie will round off the midfield with the very much in form Rebic partnering Ibra.

A win will keep the team’s very slim top 4 hopes alive.

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Derby Della Madonnina February 2020

A trimmed squad without loaned and sold players faced Verona in the first match after the winter window closed. Verona themselves unbeaten in 2020 too left the San Siro with a tie. Milan were without flu stricken Ibra and missed the suspended Bennacer in midfield. The aforementioned smaller squad meant that both Alexis Saelemaekers and Daniel Maldini came on as subs in the 1-1 draw. The 18 years old latter made his full Serie A debut and became the third generation Maldini to feature for Milan.

Focus shifts to the derby and with Inter flying high with Conte at the helm the task is a difficult one. Ibra was still in doubt for much of the week but will be ready to play up front. The Swede could possibly play as a lone center forward with more midfield support behind him but the 4-4-2 with Leao seems the more likely formation. If the so called 4-4-1-1 does happen it could mean Calhanoglu playing behind Ibra and a midfield four of Bonaventura, Bennacer, Kessie and Castillejo providing the spine for the team. The right back situation has remained a problem area with neither of Conti and Calabria convincing and it seems Pioli can’t really decide which player is better. Musacchio is likely to retain his spot and play with Romagnoli in central defence and of course Theo Hernandez is the left back.

Inter have dominated the derby in the past decade and look to jump into a tie with Juventus at the top of the table with a win. Samir Handanovic has a hairline fracture in his little finger but claims to be able to play. If the team decide to not risk making the injury worse Daniele Padelli will get a rare start. Lautaro Martínez will definitely miss the derby as he is serving the second of his two game suspension for being too aggressive at the referee in the game vs Cagliari.

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Week 22: Borini’s New Team

Milan are suddenly on an unbeaten run. The team hasn’t lost in the 2020 calendar year. This includes three wins and one tie in the Serie A and two Coppa wins. Is this turn around a sign of things to come or not? The tools given – or not given – to the team during the now concluded January transfer window may have some bearing on that. Beating Udinese 3-2 and beating Brescia 1-0 with a resurrected Rebic have revived hopes. A convincing win vs SPAL in the Coppa Italia followed by a come from behind last minute tie and extra time win vs Torino have added further optimism.

Sitting in sixth place and eight points behind Roma for fourth spot Milan host Verona. The Serie A odds of a top 4 finish can still be considered a long shot but with Ibra’s arrival and a new two striker formation the outlook is at least different.

Some fans and commentators expected star signings in the winter transfer window. Many felt that Ibra would be one of two or three bigger signings. This did not materialize. Perhaps summer will be busier or perhaps the much rumoured and subsequently denied change of ownership means an asset stripping is in progress. Early January saw a few loans which meant players like Reina and Caladara were replaced like for like. The last days of the transfer window saw increased activity and Rodriguez and Suso left on loans. The former with only an option to PSV and the latter with a somewhat easy to achieve condition for an obligation to Sevilla. A buyer was found for Piatek and his once promising Milan career fizzled into a trip to Berlin. A young Belgian arrived and young American almost did. Alexis Saelemaekers arrived as a right sided player on loan from Anderlecht. Antonee Robinson even flew to Milan but a medical issue had the Wigan full back return to his team. The team has shed some salary and made some money too but is now smaller and lacks depth.

Week 22 features Verona, Borini’s new home after he terminated his Milan contract, visiting the San Siro. Milan look to continue the unbeaten run before the week 23 Milan derby. The 4-4-2 with Leao and Ibra should survive but Bennacer will miss the game due to accumulated yellows. The focus will be on the front two gelling more and the middle two – now possibly Krunic and Kessie – doing more to provide and defend too. Castillejo and Calhanoglu have been hard working and both have contributed from the wing and more centrally in the case of the latter. Donnarumma has been impressive recently and will play behind the now seemingly regular Kjaer and Romagnoli partnership. Conti may get the nod ahead of Calabria and Theo aka the star of the season will look to impress again.

Late in the week word arrived that Krunic, Kjaer and Ibra have knocks or in the case of latter are ill and will be replaced in the starting lineup. Musacchio and Rebic will fill their spots.

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