Jan 302021
 
Some struggles in 2-1 win at Bologna

A changed lineup, due to injuries and COVID-19 of course, had Leao as a nominal attacking midfielder. Rebic returned from isolation to get a start.
Early on Theo hit the bar from a freekick, his form and decision making continued to be disappointing throughout the game and his poor passing led to Bologna’ goal later in the second half.
Leao did well and was often present in attempted crosses and close to getting assists.
Lukasz Skorupski in Bologna goal continued his good form and made a double save before Milan were awarded a penalty, a quick VAR check confirmed the penalty eventhough it was not the most obvious one. Skorupski saved Ibra’s poor penalty but Rebic shot the ball in on the rebound.
Donnarumma saved Milan when called up on and Soriano, Bologna’s top scorer this season, almost had a chance to tie the game late in the first.
The second had Milan somewhat disorganized a continuation of the theme of the first.
However a gift was given when Adama Soumaoro handled the ball on a cross to Ibra. Kessie returned to penalty taking duties and coolly converted.
Andrea Poli, the former Milan player, came on as a sub and with his first touch shot high under the bar. Theo’s earlier poor and lazy pass in midfield had led directly to the Bologna chance.
Bologna gained confidence and came close to tying in the ensuing sometimes chaotic minutes with Soriano among the ones with good chances.
Milan escaped with the three as Bennacer made a welcome return from injury.

 Posted by on January 30, 2021
Jan 302021
 
Starting Lineup: 4-2-3-1
99
Donnarumma
2
Calabria
23
Tomori
13
Romagnoli
19
Hernandez
8
Tonali
79
Kessié
56
Saelemaekers
17
Leão
12
Rebić
11
Ibrahimović
Substitutes

The first half of the 2020-2021 finished with Milan first in the standings. The so called project could be considered ahead of schedule and the work done in the 2020 calendar year historic. Can it continue? The style of play, togetherness and the youth and experience mix has looked promising and despite numerous injury, COVID-19 cases and indeed questionable referee and VAR decisions Milan have surpassed expectations. Opposition fans are feeling the pressure and accusations of penalty favours at a high.

The January window will be over soon but it has been a busy one and continued the low cost, loan heavy mix of youth and experience. Questions still remain in its final few days, especially if the problem right wing spot can be given consideration. Any Castillejo replacement may need to wait until the summer while this teams grapples with absentees and tries to get back on track after losses in the Coppa and Serie A.

In the pandemic days of two matches a week it always seemed questionable to use players like Kjaer in the Coppa and as it turned out he needed to substituted in the Inter game and will miss two or three weeks. Tomori, the newcomer, was thrown into the cauldron and showed promise in relief. Now he needs to play more games because Musacchio has left to Lazio and Gabbia remains out injured. The Canadian born defender and Romagnoli are the only healthy central defender on the squad. Calabria and Theo will play as full backs. Bennacer has recovered but is likely to only be on the bench as Tonali and Kessie get the starts. Diaz is another name on the injury list and although news came that Calhanoglu has tested negative for COVID-19 and is available it may be too late for him to start versus Bologna. Predictions call for a Leao start but that probably means that the 4-2-3-1 won’t be that because Leao is not exactly an attacking midfielder. No matter who starts in behind or besides Ibra the likelihood remains that Rebic and Saelemaekers will be on sides or wings.

Bologna have slid down the standings with only one win in two months. Roberto Soriano is their leader and will be the danger man alongside Musa Barrow and Riccardo Orsolini.

Follow the match as it happens, on the forum.

 Posted by on January 30, 2021
Jan 272021
 

The game required more players given a rest. The inclusion of Kessie, Kjaer and to a lesser extent Theo, Romagnoli and Ibra was arguably unnecessary but facing Inter the temptation was strong to field a strong team. In the end the Coppa is not something this team can afford to concentrate on. Matches have been coming almost every midweek and continuing in the Coppa Italia would have meant more of the same. Concentration on the league – and not even Europa League – is perhaps best.
The game didn’t start poorly but before long Inter started to dominate. Tatarusanu playing only because Donnarumma was suspended following an on bench red card versus Torino was solid and saved well stretching his leg in one early Inter shot. As it turned out Kjaer needed to be replaced inside the first half and Tomori came on for a sort of baptism by fire type introduction. Musacchio, the nominal alternative, is on his way to Lazio and was not to be available.
Late in the first Ibra and Romelu Lukaku got into a tussle that had them exchanging words and almost coming to a headbutt. They both got a yellow when perhaps more was needed. A wholly unnecessary fight which meant Ibra would later be thrown out for a separate, soft yet also unnecessary yellow in the second.
VAR decided to get involved to disappoint yet again when Leao brought down Nicolo Barella in the box. For a referee to check the side pitch monitor and decide to see contact was an astounding sight and yet more evidence for the case against VAR.
Inter scored deep into added time that had stretched into 10 minutes because the referee had to pull himself out of the game in favor of the fourth official. A soft but again poor and unnecessary Meite foul led to a freekick just outside the box. It was directly converted by Christian Eriksen and it had Tatarusanu rooted to his spot.
A poor and dominated Milan lost 2-1 and exited the 2020-2021 Coppa Italia. It just may turn out to be blessing in disguise.

 Posted by on January 27, 2021
Jan 262021
 

Playing the city rivals is always a big match of course. The current season has Milan sitting at top spot half way through it with many important matches to come in order to hold on to the spot. Coaches especially and players too will never admit that a game is less important than another, playing Inter makes such feelings even less likely. But this Coppa Italia match up does feel less important than any other derby. Winning this quarter final match will add a two leg semi final match up (vs the winner of the Juventus – Spezia in the other Coppa quarter final) in the up coming two weeks. Immediately afterwards there are another two legs versus Red Star Belgrade in the Europa League round of 32. The injury situation added to the fixture list would perhaps make a coach pause and decide to assign less emphasis on this Coppa Italia match, perhaps.

Calhanoglu, Kalulu, Gabbia and Bennacer are still out. The latter is due to return versus Bologna on the weekend. Mandzukic, who made his Milan debut in the loss to Atalanta, is said to have a knock and is not 100%. That leaves fewer available players but which are better off being rested for this match?

Tatarusanu should start in Donnarumma’s spot. Other candidates for rest surely include Kjaer, Hernandez and Kessie. On defense if Tomori is seen to be ready he should get a start. Musacchio would be a possible candidate but reports are that he is off to Lazio on a cheap deal so he might have already played his last game for Milan. Meite and Tonali could start in midfield behind Rebic, Diaz and Saelemaekers. Castillejo has played a lot of minutes recently but could perhaps retain his place for the Coppa match and a more rested Saelemaekers gets the Serie A minutes. Leao is also available and in regards to Ibra the player himself would dictate how rested or healthy he feels and he would probably relish playing against Inter following the Atalanta disappointment three days earlier.

 Posted by on January 26, 2021
Jan 232021
 

A strong start had Ibra miss a chance that would have been offside, Theo and Leao lively and Meite had a free header from a corner.
Atalanta roamed and tried to breach the Milan defense. Zapata was the usual strong forward all expect and Ilicic a threat. Kalulu and Kjaer were kept busy.
Eventually the possession and domination opened the way for Atalanta to score. Cristian Romero got a better position in front of Kalulu and took advantage of a cross to beat Donnarumma from close range, the goalkeeper had no time to deal with the ball that was headed right at him.
Atalanta remained the more dangerous team and had much more of the ball, the home team went into the half having to adjust.
Almost predictably Diaz came on for Meite for the second. Atalanta scored their second when Kessie’s elbow caught Ilicic in the box. The same player converted the penalty as Kalulu in pain and unable to even walk off the pitch was replaced by Musacchio. The young French defender had been struggling since a foul a few minutes earlier.
Mandzukic and Rebic came on for Castillejo and Leao to try to force the game into the Atalanta box but the best chances still fell to Zapata and Atalanta and it was the same player who hit the post and later made it 3-0.
A late mini charge by Milan had Mandzukic and Diaz come close. In the end Atalanta handed Milan another convincing (0-3) defeat and the Milan players and coach were left looking forward to the next match and a response.

 Posted by on January 23, 2021
Jan 232021
 
Starting Lineup: 4-2-3-1
99
Donnarumma
2
Calabria
20
Kalulu
24
Kjær
19
Hernandez
8
Tonali
79
Kessié
7
Castillejo
18
Meïté
17
Leão
11
Ibrahimović
Substitutes

There is some relief on the injury front as well as a very 2020-2021 tale. Theo and Calhanoglu missed training prior to the Cagliari game, returned to training but eventually went back to isolation and both missed the week 18 game. It turns out Theo’s tests were a false positive and he is back in the squad for week 19. Krunic and Rebic have recovered and are back as well. Saelemaekers returned from injury in the aforementioned game but got two quick somewhat undeserved yellows to get himself suspended. Romagnoli got himself a yellows accumulation suspension. Bennacer was hoped to be ready but looks like he needs another week. Leao however returns from his suspension.

All in all it has been a chaotic past few weeks. Maldini and the management picked up the pace for a transfer window version of chaos too. After Duarte left to Turkey it was Conti’s turn. The right back left, also on loan, to Parma. His transfer can turn to an obligation if Parma stay up. In addition to Meite’s incoming loan Mandzukic and Tomori have arrived, the former on a 6 months renewable deal and the latter on loan. The Croatian veteran will help upfront and provide relief or support for Ibra. The young Canada born Chelsea center back may have few chances to showcase his talent with Kjaer and Romagnoli as the regular starters. Picking up all these options will make for an expensive 2021 summer but the team is well placed to spend some money and has managed to add both experience and highly rated youth.

Playing Atalanta is an important undertaking not only because the opponents press and score goals aplenty but also because it was this team that humiliated Milan at the end of 2019 and the memories certainly linger. The current Milan team that will face Gasperini’s men has grown by leaps and bounds since thenm and of course features Ibra. Donnarumma will start behind Calabria, Kalulu, Kjaer and Theo. The midfield duo features the improving Tonali and the ever present Kessie. There is some question as to who will play in Calhanoglu’s spot. Diaz has been the normal deputy this season but Pioli has decided to use Meite in that spot. It is probably one of the more interesting selection choices this season. Leao and Castillejo will play alongside behind Ibra. Rebic might get a few minutes in Leao’s place. One question mark added to the season is the possibility that Mandzukic and Ibra play together at the same time and what that does to the heavily favored 4-2-3-1. We may see that some time in the season.

Follow the match as it happens, on the forum.

 Posted by on January 23, 2021
Jan 222021
 

Born in Canada to Nigerian parents he moved to England as a toddler. He represented Canada at the the under 20 level briefly before switching to England. He has one senior English cap vs Kosovo in 2020 and before it he starred for the English under 19, 20 and 21 teams.
His main attribute is his pace and therefore his power to track attackers, recover and then launch quick counters. Once he has the ball his passing and ball skills are above average.
The defender arrives on an initial loan with an option to make the transfer permanent for around €28 million.

Player Summary
Name:
Fikayo Tomori
Date of Birth:
Dec 19, 1997
Age:
23
Height:
1.84 m
Citizenship:
England
Position:
Central Defender
Foot:
Right
Agency:
None
Ownership:
AC Milan
Contract Expires:
Jun 30, 2025
Current Club:
AC Milan
Joined:
Jun 17, 2021
 Posted by on January 22, 2021
Jan 192021
 

Mario Mandzukic has signed a short term deal until the end of the 2020-2021 season. His deal is set to include an option if Milan qualify for the 2021-2022 Champions League. He will earn between €1.5 to €1.8 million for these initial six months. He last played for the Qatari side Al-Duhail until last July. He had transferred there from Juventus. At Juventus he played 162 times scoring 44 goals, sometimes as a left winger.

Player Summary
Name:
Mario Mandzukic
Date of Birth:
May 21, 1986
Age:
35
Height:
1.9 m
Citizenship:
Croatia
Position:
Forward
Foot:
Right
Agency:
None
Ownership:
Dummy
Contract Expires:
Jun 30, 2022
Current Club:
AC Milan
Joined:
Jan 19, 2021
 Posted by on January 19, 2021
Jan 182021
 

An injury riddled line up missed Theo, Bennacer, Calanoglu, Rebic, Saelemaekers, Gabbia and Leao. The latter due to suspension.
Early minutes most of the action was in Cagliari’s half. Diaz buzzed around well and in the 7th minute Charalambos Lykogiannis made contact with Ibra in the box, a quick check VAR check awarded the penalty which somewhat surprisingly Ibra took himself. It was converted for the lead.
In 24th minutes Calabria took a long shot that forced Alessio Cragno into a diving save. In the 36th minutes he was close again, he got his left foot following a scramble in the box and hit the post.
Cagliari got into the match more late in the first and on one move Romagnoli got a yellow for blocking Cagliari player, a yellow which means he will be suspended for week 19 versus Atalanta.
The second half started with Kalulu replacing Kjaer.
Ibra scored on a good run from a long Calabria pass but the 52nd minute goal needed VAR review to confirm the Swede was an just level.
Perhaps Cagliari’s best chance came in 63rd minute hen Giovanni Simeone made it through the central defense but Donnarumma blocked his shot well.
Saelemaekers made his injury return for a mostly uninvolved Hauge. In the 72nd Meite his Milan debut coming on for Tonali. Saelemaekers’ return was short lived as he got an almost immediate yellow for a high foot and a second soft yellow to earn himself a red.
As Cagliari found more room and had a penalty claim Conti came on for perhaps his final minutes in a Milan jersey.
The match finished with another 2 goal game for Milan with plenty of selection headaches yet to come.

 Posted by on January 18, 2021
Jan 182021
 
Starting Lineup: 4-2-3-1
99
Donnarumma
2
Calabria
24
Kjær
13
Romagnoli
5
Dalot
8
Tonali
79
Kessié
7
Castillejo
21
Díaz
15
Hauge
11
Ibrahimović
Substitutes

The results have remained mostly positive and Milan continues its position at the top of the table. The injury situation seemed to be heading away from the crisis mode that earlier had up to seven regulars out. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has pulled the team back into a crisis. Rebic and Krunic tested positive almost two weeks and are still not cleared to return. This week amid some confusing news when Calhanoglu and Theo missed training on Friday – but Theo returned to training on Saturday – both were declared positive and will miss some time. Saelemaekers has made the squad but may not be ready for minutes and Bennacer still a few days away. Gabbia remains a more long term casualty.

Transfer activity has the team signing Meite from Torino and close to adding experience in the form of Mario Mandzukic and with more to come. For this match Nikos Michelis, Enrico Di Gesu (both midfielders) and Emil Roback (forward) have been called up from the primavera to have enough bodies on the bench. Dalot will deputize for Theo in the back four with Romagnoli, Kjaer, and Calabria. Kessie and Tonali will be the two pivots with Meite a candidate for some minutes. Up front Pioli may have little choice but to use Castillejo, Diaz, Hauge and Ibra. Leao is serving a one game suspension for yellow accumulation. His latest in the game versus Torino was very clearly a refereeing mistake. With Inter having beaten Juventus the race for the top spot is now tighter.

Cagliari feature several notable players in Joao Pedro, Radja Nainggolan and Diego Godin all with experience and history against Milan. The Sardinians however sit in 17th place with Eusebio Di Francesco struggling yet again to get his team going. Cagliari added Alfred Duncan on loan from Fiorentina just days ago and he is due to start.

Follow the match as it happens, on the forum.

 Posted by on January 18, 2021