Oct 292020
 

Theo and Kessie rested and in their place Dalot and Tonali started. No rest for Kjaer however as backups are not really the most trusted. As it turns out Duarte did come as a very late sub, but for Romagnoli.
Early on Milan accumulated offsides but dominated possession. Bennacer showed that he is one of the best and in form midfielders.
The first goal was a good exchange between Diaz and Ibra after the former had won the ball. The Spaniard finished well.
Ibra took on an excellent Bennacer cross but was brought down by David Lischka. He missed the penalty and hit the crossbar.
Leao came on for Ibra at HT. Tonali and Leao missed a good early chance.
A good change of flanks diagonal pass to Dalot who crossed well and Leao finished in true poacher fashion to make it 2-0.
For the third goal a quickly taken freekick in the defensive half was shot long by Bennacer towards Dalot. The Portuguese ran with the ball to the top of the box and beat Milan Heca in Sparta’s goal.
As mentioned Romagnoli went off for Duarte late and at the same time Kessie replaced man of the match Bennacer and took on the captain’s armband.

 Posted by on October 29, 2020
Oct 292020
 

The congested schedule has teams playing twice a week and this second matchday game vs Sparta Prague comes a week after the 3-1 win at Celtic. Fatigue is an even bigger of an issue with this pandemic disrupted fixture list. In addition to the obvious strains on players teams have to manage with COVID-19 positive cases. In Milan’s case the list now includes Hauge and Gigio Donnarumma.

Tatarusanu did not impress in his first outing replacing Donnarumma in goal and already questions are being asked. It is of course too early to count him out and it is likely that he hasn’t lost his place at all. In case he does, which Pioli denies at least for now, Antonio Donnarumma will play until his young brother tests negative and returns. Other lineup changes should be expected because more games will be coming fast. It is good that Milan does have alternatives in some spots. The depth is not great by any means but counting on Diaz, Castillejo and Tonali as backups is still better than some recent seasons. Calhanoglu and Kessie would benefit from rest. Kjaer would too but the only dependable alternative is Gabbia and it is doubtful he will be used often even when back from isolation. A central defender should be found in January. Rebic is close to returning but won’t be available for this match so the left sided attacking position is short of players.

Sparta Prague sit in first place and undefeated early in the Czech 1st League season but lost their Europa League opener 1-4 to Lille.

Follow the match as it happens, on the forum.

 Posted by on October 29, 2020
Oct 262020
 

Donnarumma and Hauge tested positive for Covid-19 and it meant a goalie change.
Tatarusanu didn’t look very secure on high balls and crosses especially odd for a very tall (198cm) goalkeeper but he could almost be excused for being thrown into a match only hours before kickoff.
Leao provided an excellent chipped assist that a stretched Ibra poked into the net.
Shaky and sloppy moments were a feature of the game. Theo guilty of it the most.
Leao did it again early in the second. Good moves and running to provide a cross for Saelemaekers whose hard shot made it 2-1.
Later the referee took over the match. First a penalty was given in the box where the referee (and presumably VAR) saw contact when replays showed none or if any. If any it was the Roma player grazing the back of Bennacer’s calf. Minutes later a penalty was given to Milan for minimal contact with Calhanoglu in the Roma box. Ibra converted to restore the one goal lead.
The goals were not finished as Roma equalized from a corner that had Ibra deflecting the ball unnecessarily while others missed their marking while ball watching.
Late in the game and off a corner a strong Kessie header almost restored the lead and Romagnoli headed just wide seconds before the full time whistle. Antonio Mirante stopped the former header well.
Piero Giacomelli embarrassed his profession in this 3-3 tie and Milan dropped points for the first time this season.

 Posted by on October 26, 2020
Oct 262020
 
Starting Lineup: 4-2-3-1
1
Tătărușanu
2
Calabria
24
Kjær
13
Romagnoli
19
Hernandez
4
Bennacer
79
Kessié
56
Saelemaekers
10
Çalhanoğlu
17
Leão
11
Ibrahimović
Substitutes

On game day news arrived that Donnarumma and Hauge have tested positive for the Coronavirus, wish the players and other members of the team a speedy recovery. Summer arrival Tatarusanu is set to start vs Roma.

Milan made it four out of four to start the season and in the process beat Inter 2-1 in the derby. Ibra above all but many of the 11 continued their good form. Kjaer and Kessie were two of the more stand out players but the game itself wasn’t the most impressive and Theo was pinned back and struggled when facing Inter’s Achraf Hakimi. Romagnoli just back from a long injury layoff had his shares of struggles too. Pioli introduced Krunic in Leao’s place to give more support to the left side and it improved the balance eventhough Krunic’s use, even more so during the midweek win at Celtic, raised a few eyebrows. The 3-1 win in Scotland was equally not the most eye catching game. Calhanoglu missed it following spraining his ankle in training. His absence is said to be short term. In his absence Diaz did well and also scored. Hauge got his first Milan goal very late into the Europa League opener.

Diaz was in all likelihood to be Calhanoglu’s deputy for this week 5 match game but Krunic did play as an attacking midfielder against the Scottish champions and could push Diaz to the left. However Calhanoglu is reported to be ready as his ankle sprain has healed sooner than hoped. The other starter are predictable. with Kessie and Bennacer in front of Tatarusanu, Calabria, Kjaer, Romagnoli and Theo. Ibra will of course start and may even extend his 2020-2021 contract for another year and on current evidence that is not a bad thing. The search for depth and starters will resume in January and beyond but for now hosting Roma beckons. Milan are currently the only top five league team who haven’t lost yet and can make it five wins facing Roma who are winthout Chris Smalling (knee sprain), Amadou Diaware and Gianluca Mancini (COVID-19 isolation). The main threat will remain Edin Dzeko with support from Pedro Rodriguez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Follow the match as it happens on the forum.

 Posted by on October 26, 2020
Oct 222020
 

The 3-1 win that was not convincing and a notable few looked poor. One of those was Tonali. The young Italian hasn’t settled yet and was outworked and his passing was off the mark, especially early on.
Two of the more doubted starters were the first to get on the scoresheet. Castillejo’s cross and Krunic’s header put Milan up. The two players combining for a goal is good to see. The latter played as an attacking midfielder at times and his inclusion is still a questionable decision by Pioli.
Theo’s cross pass to Diaz and the latter’s eventual finish doubled the lead. This was a showcase of the Diaz’s skills, he made it look deceptively simple.
Being up 2-0 it was a good opportunity to give Ibra and Kessie a rest and both will benefit from not playing the full 90. A Celtic corner led to their sole goal. Tonali didn’t follow Mohamed Elyounoussi all the way and the Norwegian international headed in. In the final seconds a good interplay was finished off by Hauge for his first Milan goal, credit for the work in the build up and assist goes to Bennacer and Saelemaekers.

 Posted by on October 22, 2020
Oct 222020
 

After an indirectly UEFA enforced absence from European competition Milan are back in Europe’s secondary competition. A changed Milan made it to Europa League after drama in the excessively long qualifying playoffs. The tournament is of relative little value but does provide some financial gain and a path back to the Champions League.

The 48 team bloated Europa League has paired Milan with Celtic, Sparta Prague and Lille in one of its 12 groups. A travel to Scotland is first on the agenda. In pandemic times any travel is courting danger and with the number of cases on a rapid rise football is not exempt. As with the general population many players across Europe and the world are in isolation and Milan currently counts Gabbia on that list. Calhanoglu sprained an ankle earlier this week. With Rebic still missing Milan will need to reach for its summer acquired offensive depth to start the 2020-2021 competition. The same can not be said for the defensive side. Gabbia’s absence along with the only recent return of the unconvincing Duarte from injury and COVID-19 isolation serve to highlight the lack of depth on the defensive side. Kjaer and Romagnoli will carry a heavy burden for the next little while while the likes of Diaz and Hauge can fill in for the up front absences. In the Milan derby Pioli brought on Krunic in place of Leao to provide some defensive blance on the left and that may remain an option when the coach decides to play it a bit safer when facing a team threatening on Milan’s left. Kessie, Bennacer and Tonali will share the load in the middle of the pitch with the first becoming more of a valuable part of the team every week. Leao can be a sometimes reliable left winger with Saelemaekers a surprising player in place of the off form Castillejo on the right. Ibra declared himself the god of the pitch and his form is a testament to his value and endurance. The fullbacks situation remains somewhat confusing with no natural back up to Theo on the left. Recently acquired Dalot has said he can play there but prefers the right side. Milan of course have all of Calabria, Conti and Kalulu for the right so it seems likely that Dalot might need to contribute on the left side and as early as this match.

Celtic have renewed their domestic rivalry with Rangers and sit in second place in the Scotland’s premiership having just lost the old firm derby this past weekend. They of course now feature Laxalt on loan from Milan.

Follow the match and all of Europa League action on the forum.

 Posted by on October 22, 2020
Oct 182020
 
Ibra is on fire

Ibra with another brace, one from a penalty he won himself and another courtesy a great assist and cross by Leao, is on fire. Having just returned from a COVID-19 diagnosis and isolation it is remarkable.
Romagnoli, back from a long layoff, struggled in marking and tracking Romelu Lukaku in particular.
Theo was pinned back and beaten by Inter’s Achraf Hakimi. This will provide a reference for Milan’s future opponents. Not all teams have a player of Hakimi’s quality but Pioli must be ready with a plan, whether that means using Krunic again, as in this derby, remains questionable.
Kessie and Kjaer continue to star for the team.

 Posted by on October 18, 2020
Oct 172020
 
Starting Lineup: 4-2-3-1
99
Donnarumma
2
Calabria
24
Kjær
13
Romagnoli
19
Hernandez
4
Bennacer
79
Kessié
56
Saelemaekers
10
Çalhanoğlu
17
Leão
11
Ibrahimović
Substitutes

An ill-advised international break has resulted in more COVID-19 cases as travels across Europe and the world for international friendlies and matches has not helped stem the spread of the virus. Everyday news of positive cases are in the news and Milan is not spared. Gabbia is in isolation having traveled with the Azzurri under 21 team and Inter are harder hit with Alessandro Bastoni, Ashley Young, Radja Nainggolan, Roberto Gagliardini, Milan Skriniar and Ionut Radu totaling six in quarantine ahead of the derby. Ibra is back after testing negative having missed Serie A and Europa league games. Duarte has been isolating for the same but for reasons not known for a longer period than seen elsewhere. However, the game is going ahead because regulations say that a team can play with as little as 13 players available. The footballing world is certainly caught in the feared so called second wave of the pandemic. It is still not out of the question that competitions will be disrupted again and fans will have to navigate the world of football virtually using igaming search.

Romagnoli returns from injury but Rebic is still missing with his elbow not fully recovered. The team facing Inter will feature little surprises and the only real question mark is who will play as a nominal left winger when Rebic is absent. Saelemaekers, who made his national debut and shined for Belgium during the break, could be the beneficiary though Leao is a better fit for the left wing and did score twice in the week 3 3-0 defeat of Spezia. Donnarumma, in the midst of a never ending contract negotiation, is of course the starter as are Calabria, Kjaer, Romagnoli and Theo. Bennacer and Kessie have been impressive and will be a duo that will attract looks from richer teams in the coming transfer windows. Calahanoglu, soon to be asking for a big pay raise, may start with Castillejo and the aforementioned Belgian behind Ibra. Castillejo’s poor form has made him a much talked of player this season and it is not out of the question that Pioli will change his mind and not start him. Diaz is also an option for the left wing pushing Saelemaekers to his natural position.

This Milan has won its first three games to start a season for the first time in 14 years and hasn’t conceded in the first three for the first time in 49 years! It now faces a bigger challenge in Conte’s Inter. It is time to win a derby after suffering a Serie A derby drought. The last time Milan won a Derby della Madonnina match was in January 2016.

Follow the match as it happens, on the forum.

 Posted by on October 17, 2020
Oct 062020
 

Expectations were higher, at least by fans, but financial realities – some new like the ongoing pandemic and some not so new – limited this transfer window to what may be called a limited rebuild.

Early favorable deals like the loan with option for Tonali had heightened expectations but after a whole host of names for center back, full back, central midfield, right back, practically every other position were mentioned the rebuild stopped far short of being revolutionary and was dominated by further loans for Diaz and Dalot. Lack of depth and the injuries had many expecting many necessary, if not desired, moves but it didn’t really materialize. Earlier in the summer salaries were saved when Reina, Biglia, and Bonaventura left the team so more leeway was hoped for and expected too. Everyone from Tiemoue Bakayoko, Boubakary Soumare, Wesley Fofana, Ozan Kabak, Nikola Milenkovic, Mohamed Simakan, Antonio Rudiger and even Federico Chiesa were mentioned to add quality and depth but the window was to be characterized as low budget and very much a work in progress.

On the outgoing front a relative big amount was raised by receiving over 20 million for Suso. Another 20 million was raised by letting Paqueta go to Lyon. Other minor deals saved a bit more. Rebic’s exchange with Andre Silva was done in a smart way in order to make it easier for both teams to save money. On deadline day Laxalt was the only player in the news as he left on loan to Celtic. Coincidentally Celtic will be Milan’s first Europa League opponent on October 22nd.

As of October 5th 2020 Milan is battered in central defense and has little back up for most positions, with the notable exception of right back where all of Calabria, Conti, Kalulu and the newly arrived Dalot call home.

Below is a brief profile of the incoming names:

Player Summary
Name:
Diogo Dalot
Date of Birth:
Mar 18, 1999
Age:
21
Height:
1.83 m
Citizenship:
Portugal
Position:
Fullback
Foot:
Right
Agency:
None
Ownership:
AC Milan
Contract Expires:
Jun 30, 2021
Current Club:
AC Milan
Joined:
Oct 4, 2020
Player Summary
Name:
Jens Petter Hauge
Date of Birth:
Oct 12, 1999
Age:
21
Height:
1.84 m
Citizenship:
Norway
Position:
Winger
Foot:
Right
Agency:
None
Ownership:
AC Milan
Contract Expires:
Jun 30, 2025
Current Club:
AC Milan
Joined:
Oct 1, 2020
Player Summary
Name:
Ciprian Tătărușanu
Date of Birth:
Feb 9, 1986
Age:
34
Height:
0 m
Citizenship:
Romania
Position:
Goalkeeper
Foot:
Both
Agency:
None
Ownership:
AC Milan
Contract Expires:
Jun 30, 2023
Current Club:
AC Milan
Joined:
Sep 12, 2020
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
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
Player Summary
Name:
Pierre Kalulu
Date of Birth:
Jun 5, 2000
Age:
20
Height:
1.79 m
Citizenship:
France
Position:
Fullback
Foot:
N/A
Agency:
None
Ownership:
AC Milan
Contract Expires:
Jul 1, 2025
Current Club:
AC Milan
Joined:
Jun 1, 2020
 Posted by on October 6, 2020
Oct 042020
 
Starting Lineup: 4-2-3-1
99
Donnarumma
2
Calabria
24
Kjær
46
Gabbia
19
Hernandez
33
Krunić
8
Tonali
56
Saelemaekers
21
Díaz
17
Leão
29
Colombo
Substitutes

Milan won the week two match with another 2-0 clean sheet. The game was not spectacular by any means and Ibra’s absence, due to Coronavirus isolation, was felt with Rebic struggling in the focal point role. Bennacer was excluded from the starting lineup due to the very busy fixture list. Castillejo for the same reason as well but also because he has been in poor form. A penalty won late in the first provided a small cushion for Milan. After the half Diaz scored his first for Milan in an opportunistic manner. Rebic escaped what looked like a nasty injury at the time and Milan got the three points. The real drama came midweek with the Europa League playoffs at Rio Ave. The team looked mediocre and bound to fail the test. Last second drama and a history making shootout led to a win and the chance to spend a few million more before the transfer window closes on October 5th.

A day before the aforementioned window closes Milan meet another newly promoted team. Spezia have not been the busiest strengthening for life in Serie A but do possess a solid team who beat Udinese in week two. Three points must be the aim of course and it would make three wins to start a new season, a rarity in recent memory. Due to the busy schedule more changes are in the works but injuries still limit the option available to Pioli. One likely change is that Tonali and Krunic could be starters. The latter has been on the transfer block but looks to be staying. Kessie does need a rest and it is almost a luxury to be able to give him a game off. Elsewhere on the pitch the defense is still battered and bruised but help is on the way with Diogo Dalot completing his dry loan from Manchester United. The right sided former Porto man may not play a position that is currently needed but if Conti leaves his arrival would make a bit more sense. A central defender has been sought after and the latest name is Ozan Kabak. The Turkish prospect was close to arriving last year but apparently rejected the idea. A change of heart may be in the works. A transfer will only happen if Schalke make the price affordable. Up front Calhanoglu may be getting a rest too with Saelemaekers, Diaz, Leao playing behind Colombo. Ibra has been posting on social media that he has no symptoms and he showed off a luxury car he purchased on the occasion of his 39th birthday on October 3rd. The veteran will miss at least another week and be available only after virus tests come back negative.

Follow the match as it happens, on the forum.

 Posted by on October 4, 2020