Sep 302020
 

The 2020-2021 is very young and no conclusions can be reached at yet but the landscape is different and seems unpredictable. Early indications across Europe are that surprises are possible. Both Bayern Munich and Manchester City suffered heavy losses and goals per game are up across the continent. Milan have won the first two matches of a new season without conceding for the first time in 18 years. Can this be a season where Milan not only continue the hot streak but actually benefit from the less familiar surroundings?

New comers like Crotone will still struggle in order to beat the drop but life at the top of the table could be less conventional. All this comes with a cautious note of not forgetting that the pandemic is still on and has entered a possibly more dangerous phase. News of multiple Genoa players and staff testing positive for the Coronavirus adds to the fears and numbers that are rising across much of the world. Ibra and Duarte are just two Milan players currently in isolation and Leao just returned to the squad from the same. Gaining as many points as possible now will serve all teams well later even more in case the season is an interrupted one again.

On the injury front the news about Rebic’s injury is positive as he did not fracture a bone or tear any nerves or muscles The Croat, who looks to be more effective on the left wing than the front, could be back in as little as two weeks.

Milan Visit Rio Ave’s Estadio dos Arcos in Europa League playoffs

The team is chasing as many transfer targets as it can afford to add depth and quality. The Norwegian Jens Petter Hauge is set to be one such addition despite some earlier denials. The young player can move the between the lines and provide an alternative for Pioli much in the same way that Tonali and Diaz do. There is however little to note of departures. Any departure will add funds to the budget and with less than one week to the window closing Paqueta’s certain departure is the only one in the news. His exit will add some much needed funds for a center back or perhaps the right wing. The fixture list is full with yet another round to go before a possible place in Europa League’s group stage. This weakened team travels to Portugal’s north to visit Rio Ave before facing Spezia in another hopefully winnable game. The consequent weeks will feature the derby and bigger teams. It is is hoped that by that time most absentees, including Romagnoli, would have returned to the pitch. It should be noted that Kessie and Calhanoglu seem to be their improved selves and have played very well in this very young season.

In the final days of the transfer window follow the discussion on the forum.



 Posted by on September 30, 2020
Sep 272020
 
Starting Lineup: 4-2-3-1
99
Donnarumma
2
Calabria
24
Kjær
46
Gabbia
19
Hernandez
8
Tonali
79
Kessié
56
Saelemaekers
10
Çalhanoğlu
21
Díaz
12
Rebić
Substitutes

Ibra scored both goals in the opening fixture of the 2020-2021 season. The soon to be 39 year old showed that his importance as a veteran of a very young squad will remain as crucial as ever. The youg squad is hoping to continue where it left off in the summer and the first indication was positive if not 100% reassuring. The moves being made to add depth and strength to the team will continue until the transfer window closes on October 5th.

In the meanwhile there is cause for immediate concern. Ibra is in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19. He will miss this week 2 match and will be out for another week at least. Rebic and young Colombo are the only alternatives available at center forward. The latter did a good job starting midweek in the Europa League qualifying tie vs Bodo/Glimt but the former is the likely starter up front. This leaves open Rebic’s more usual spot as a pseudo left winger. Leao has just returned from COVID-19 isolation himself and is not fully ready so newcomer Brahim Diaz will start there. Calhanoglu has been in great form as the central player behind the striker and will start with Saelemaekers as the disappointing Castillejo is going to be on the bench. The two in the 4-2-3-1 are of course normally Kessie and Bennacer but indications are the latter could get rest to give bigger minutes to the newcomer Tonali.

The defense is decimated with Duarte out after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier. Romagnoli and Musacchio are battling injury. This leaves only Gabbia and Kjaer (and possibly Kalulu) as center back options. Calabria has been doing very well recently and will be the right back and Theo the left back. Donnarumma will get the nod in goal.

Early indications are that Crotone could be one of the weaker teams in the Serie A and that the promoted team could struggle on most match days. It remains to be seen whether the Calabrese can surprise.

Follow the match as it happens, on the forum.

 Posted by on September 27, 2020
Sep 212020
 

Ibra brace from a good jump and header from a pinpoint Theo cross and an emphatic penalty awarded after VAR review. The referee had initially given a free kick just outside the box.
The starting line up as predicted remains stable but owing to many games, Europa League qualifying in midweek among them, coming up subs came fast. All of Saelemaekers, Tonali, Diaz, Duarte and Krunic got game time as the five subs per match game is still in effect in the Serie A.
The first of the subs was at half time as Saelemaekers replaced a disappointing Castillejo. The Belgian showed hunger and was a good fit for the team.
Calhanoglu did not have his best game. Calabria, Kessie did very well as did Donnarumma when called up on. Tonali came on as a sub and showed that he needs time to adapt to his new team. Diaz is a more skilled technical player and has the potential to win a starting spot.
Bologna playing a physical game and were reduced to 10 men in the second half.

 Posted by on September 21, 2020
Sep 212020
 
Starting Lineup: 4-2-3-1
99
Donnarumma
2
Calabria
24
Kjær
46
Gabbia
19
Hernandez
4
Bennacer
79
Kessié
7
Castillejo
10
Çalhanoğlu
12
Rebić
11
Ibrahimović
Substitutes

The pandemic disrupted 2019-2020 season ended on an extremely positive note for Milan on the pitch. The team, inspired by Ibra, Rebic, Calhanoglu, and virtually all of the squad finished the season unbeaten and set the stage for optimism not seen by fans, Oly Bet website, predictors, the players, management and others in a decade or more. The re-confirmed management team headed by Maldini and Massara set about investing and rebuilding the team.

The task was and remains not easy. Funds are obviously not infinite and even with pandemic induced relaxation of the financial fair play rules the business of football is facing losses in the billions.

There have been obvious weaknesses in the team and they cover virtually every area of the pitch but Ibra’s eventual decision to stay for one more year has allowed Maldini to concentrate on building elsewhere and look to players that can grow with the team. Quality players are needed and while Milan are being smart by signing young players, like Pierre Kalulu and Emil Roback, on the cheap immediate help is desperately needed for this upcoming season. One name that had been circulating the rumour mill was Sandro Tonali. The young highly rated Italian midfielder had been deemed expensive and one step away from Inter. Fortune favoured Milan when the situation at Inter changed when Antonio Conte apparently pivoted to an arguably short sighted ‘experience is the answer’ strategy and withdrew his interest. Tonali, a documented Milan fan, jumped at the chance and Maldini’s diplomacy secured a surprisingly favorable loan with option to buy deal for the player. Another young player was added when Madrid shed another young player and agreed to a dry loan for Brahim Diaz. The young player could yet stay at Milan for a longer period but for now the skilled midfielder will hope to provide depth on the attacking side of play.

The short transfer window is open until October 5th and other areas need attention. The mediocre right back spot is calling out for an upgrade and the center back position is devoid of quality depth. A host of players have been linked with those positions though some of the names are not exactly exciting. It remains to be seen if any of Celtic’s Kristoffer Ajer, Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic, Tottenham’s Serge Aurier or PSV’s Denzel Dumfries do arrive for reasonable amounts. Bakayoko has long asked for a Milan return and he would to shore up the midfield but Chelsea are not exactly willing to let him go on the cheap. Various other names have come up as alternatives, for example St Etienne’s Wesley Fofana. The right wing is yet another area that has many unconvinced. Is Castillejo the man to carry the load? Can Saelemaekers lend a helping hand on a regular basis? Many are looking forward to a possible Enrico Chiesa transfer but Fiorentina look to make big money on him and Milan may not be able to match their demand. All in all Maldini has gone a long way to convincing most fans but the team has a long way to go to get where it needs to be: Regular qualification for the Champions League.

The season starts with the team having already made a big gamble in retaining Pioli. The job of continuing where the team left off starts versus Mihajlovic’s Bologna. The former Milan coach is battling cancer and has recently beat COVID-19. The motivation for the visitors to do well for their coach is likely very strong.

Milan start the new Serie A season days after beating Shamrock Rovers 2-0 in Europa League qualifying. A meeting with Norway’s Bodo/Glimt awaits midweek but for now a Romagnoli-less Milan will open the season hoping for a rare opening day win. The captain is still rehabilitating from an injury he picked up at the end of last season and is unlikely to be available for at least another two weeks. The team should still look familiar with Donnarumma in goal. Calabria, Kjaer, Gabbia and Theo at the back, Bennacer and Kessie behind the in form Calhanoglu and Rebic, Castillejo and Ibra working hard and establishing a vertically quick and fluid game.

Late in the week news arrived that the Italian authorities will allow 1000 spectators in the stadium. Milan have allotted the space to medical workers as a thankful gesture. The team will therefore play in front of a crowd for the first time since March.

Follow the match as it happens on the forum.

 Posted by on September 21, 2020
Sep 102020
 

Sandro Tonali who weeks ago seemed out of reached has joined Milan. For much of the past few months there have been conflicting reports as to how much Milan can spend this abbreviated window. The pandemic has hit finances hard but the amounts being spent remain large and Tonali had been rumoured to be close to joining Inter.

Player Summary
Name:
Sandro Tonali
Date of Birth:
May 8, 2000
Age:
20
Height:
1.81 m
Citizenship:
Italy
Position:
Midfielder
Foot:
Right
Agency:
None
Ownership:
AC Milan
Contract Expires:
Jun 30, 2021
Current Club:
AC Milan
Joined:
Sep 9, 2020

Late August saw Inter make a U-turn in an apparent shift to more experienced players. Milan rekindled their interest and managed to convince Massimo Cellino, the Brescia president, to accept a high loan of 10 million with an option of further 15m and 10m in bonuses. Cellino praised Maldini’s professionalism in the negotiations and the player himself jumped at the chance of joining a team he has followed and been a fan of since his childhood. The highly rated midfielder has garnered high praise and has been progressing well at Brescia.

Milan also pried away another young player. Brahim Diaz joined Milan on a simple loan that could possibly be extended in later negotiations. The attacking midfield can become a back up for Calhanoglu or perhaps play on the wing but it seems very doubtful that he will remain a Milan for more than one season. Madrid have sold players like Oscar Rodriguez and Achraf Hakimi this summer but have been unwilling to let Milan buy or have an option Diaz.

Player Summary
Name:
Brahim Díaz
Date of Birth:
Aug 3, 1999
Age:
21
Height:
1.71 m
Citizenship:
Spain
Position:
Midfielder
Foot:
Both
Agency:
None
Ownership:
AC Milan
Contract Expires:
Jun 30, 2021
Current Club:
AC Milan
Joined:
Sep 4, 2020

Milan’s youthful team gains more of it and has looked good in three preseason matches so far, albeit against lower division opponents. Continuing the post lock down momentum can take this team where it needs to go.

 Posted by on September 10, 2020