Monthly Archive: January 2023

Week 20: Milan – Sassuolo

Milan – Sassuolo January 29 2023 12:30CET

Milan are somehow still second in the Serie A standings. The half way mark of the season was reached with a humiliating 4-0 loss to Lazio. The team’s limitations and lack of depth were exposed. The long injury list and Pioli’s insistence on the same pseudo 4-2-3-1 has left Milan in a crisis. On top of all that the team seems unwilling to invest with growing fears that Gerry Cardinale and RedBird will not be what some hoped. Nicolo Zaniolo’s name was thrown around for a few days with little possibility of meeting Roma’s €30 million plus demands.

Milan host Sassuolo in another early game with hopes of turning things around as the danger of dropping out of the top 4 becomes real. The injury list has becomes slightly smaller with Theo and Ballo-Toure back in the squad. Tomori remains out alongside Maignan, Ibra and Florenzi. Maignan could be back in the middle of February and his return would be one of the most welcome as Tatarusanu has been one of the culprits in the recent downturn. Kjaer will replace Tomori in the back. Krunic may replace the suspended Bennacer in the middle but it is a good question to ask Pioli if Vranckx is indeed on the bench. It seems it is Saelemaekers’ turn to start on the right in place of Messias. De Ketelaere has a chance for a start, over Diaz, and if he does he will do well to shrug off the growing flop label. Leao will start on the left of course. Predictably Giroud is almost certain to be the forward.

Unsurprisingly Sassuolo have a healthier squad. However, the Neroverdi is in a freefall with their last Serie A win all the way back in October.

There is always more about this match and others on the forums.

Lazio 4-0 Milan The C Word Is Back

Lazio 4-0 Milan
Milinkovic-Savic 4’ Zaccagni 38’ Luis Alberto 67’ (P) Anderson 75’

In a seemingly post World Cup free fall Milan’s hopes for a response were soon dented with an early goal Sergej Milinkovic-Savic goal where Milan got all the marking and shape wrong. Milan threatened very little and Lazio were just better on the ball with Milan making it easy for the hosts to recover the ball. The half was just as poosr as the first half against Lecce the week before and just as mediocre as the Supercoppa encounter with Inter in Saudi Arabia. it was therefore likely and inevitable that Lazio doubled their lead before the half. After another injury – Tomori limped off to be replaced by Kjaer – Mattia Zaccagni scored a sneaky goal with all and in particular Tatarusanu looking ineffective and poor.

The second half brought little change except a triple sub before the hour. Saelemaekers, De Ketelaere and Origi came on for Messias, Diaz and Giroud with little added life. It was Lazio who added goals with a penalty after Pedro’s leg was clipped by Kalulu in the box and then Luis Alberto converted the penalty. Felipe Anderson made it 4-0 after an incursion into the Milan box had the defenders all over the place. Not for the first time Milan had lost the ability to retain and keep the ball, nevermind to recover it. Rebic replaced Leao for the final 11 minutes. Added time had Calabria in severe pain after making contact while try to win a ball back.

Maldini’s words about inability or unwillingness to add this January transfer window now looked bad. Last summer’s acquisitions have so far contributed little – none in fact – as well.

The C word is back. Milan are in crisis again.

Week 18: Lecce – Milan

Lecce – Milan January 14 2023 18:00CET

Milan threw away a two goal lead versus Roma and settled form one point. Subs and team attitude were questioned after the game with a many highlighting the state of the transfer market. The summer 2022 transfers that include the not so cheap De Ketelaere have played little and contributed much less. Could the transfer market be considered a flop and could Pioli be in the wrong for not using the players more. Either way the week turned further negative with a lackluster 0-1 Coppa Italia exit at the hands of Torino, all at home.

A long injury list has sidelined Maignan with his return from a calf injury seemingly being postponed multiple times. He is missed as goalkeeping has emerged as a weak point. Tatarusanu and the front four (or three) in front of him can not keep clean sheets and despite some good game minutes and games in front of them the team has looked out of sorts.

Tonali will miss this Lecce with a too many yellows suspension and it is likely that one of the aforementioned summer 2022 transfers will not be the one to start in his place. Pobega looks to be preferred to Vranckx. The Italian scored last week against Roma and will get a start with newly extended Bennacer. Bennacer signed an extension to 2027 with a reported salary (€4 million) more than twice his current one. The attacking players are likely to be predictable in Saelemaekers, Diaz, Leao and Giroud. The latter two’s contract situation may be close to being resolved with multiple reports that Leao will accept somewhere along the lines of €6.5 million. The back four also holds little surprise with Calabria, Kalulu, Tomori and Theo trying to hold the fort.

Lecce, featuring Samuel Umtiti on loan from Barcelona, sit in the 11th spot having drawn with Spezia in their first post World Cup game.

There is always more about this match and others on the forums.

Week 17: Milan – Roma

Milan – Roma January 8 2023 20:45CET

Milan put the World Cup break friendly malaise behind and beat Salernitana in a good game. Chance conversion rate remains a problem as do the numerous injuries, Maignan in particular. Leao and Tonali helped Milan to another three points and a small step to catching Napoli as the Serie A leader tied Inter.

Roma presents a different proposition but a home game in front of a near capacity crowd will provide a good hand. On the injury front all Milan fans are familiar with a big and continuing list. Pioli has taken responsibility for the situation and work on reducing future injuries is under way, at least it is hoped.

Maignan seems further away from a return than he was one week ago and it is also one reason that Milan are rumoured to be looking to bring in Atalanta’s Marco Sportiello now and not in June. Florenzi and Ibra are still a month or more away. Joining them on the list is Origi, Krunic, Messias, Ballo-Toure, Rebic and Kjaer. Contrast this with Roma’s injury list … Georginio Wijnaldum. That’s it.

Hard work and motivation will have to drive Milan forward. The starters are unlikely to surprise as Pioli has little options. Tatarusanu will start in goalm with Calabria, Kalulu, Tomori and Theo in the back. Tonalis and Bennacer in the middle. The latter is apparently close to an extension that is set to include a €50 million release clause. Saelemaekers, Diaz and Leao will play behind Giroud with little to no space for De Ketelaere and Adli. The latter may join the ‘loaned out again’ ranks this January. Speaking of loans, Andreas Jungdal, the young keeper may go on loan as well. With a not so big prospect of a future return.

Roma sit six points behind Milan and beat Bologna with a solitary Lorenzo Pellegrini penalty in the 2023 Serie A restart.

There is always more about this match and others on the forums.

Week 16: Salernitana – Milan, Plus Looking Forward

Salernitana – Milan January 4 2023 12:30CET

The World Cup break provided rest for the many Milan players that were not on national team duty. However, bad news and concerns for the rest of the season did not go away. Three friendlies were played against Arsenal, Liverpool and PSV and all three were losses. The handicapped team looked inept at times and it was not just because Leao, Theo, Dest, Giroud, Ballo-Toure, De Ketelaere and Kjaer were in Qatar but that Maignan (injured before the World Cup) was joined on the – of course growing – injury list by Origi, Krunic and Messias. Post World Cup added Rebic to the said list. Maignan has not recovered and has the team seeking goalkeeping solutions with the French player dangerously close to the ‘made of glass’ tag.

The team will need to recover from the friendly losses and look to not only catch up to first placed Napoli but keep its second place position in the table which is under threat with Juventus, Lazio and Inter close behind. Tatarusanu, not the most convincing, will start. Mirante was only to be an emergency signing when he joined in October of 2021 but he is still considered a third choice keeper. Both backups have an expiring contract and may not be retained. Marco Sportiello may be signed from Atalanta but that is not likely to happen in this January transfer window. Milan are reportedly close to Colombian keeper Devis Vasquez from Guarani. An unknown player on the cheap is not the most promising transfer but it is hoped he will provide solid cover.

The back four will likely be more secure with Theo, Kalulu, Tomori and the recovered Calabria starters. Bennacer and Tonali could remain the middle two while evidence for a more solid middle three grows. Saelemaekers, De Ketelaere and Leao should be the starters behind one of the World Cup’s stars in Giroud.

Salernitana invested relatively heavily last summer and feature Krzysztof Piatek among others. The team sits in the middle of the table.