Monthly Archive: April 2023

Week 32: Roma – Milan

Roma – Milan April 29 2023 18:00CET

Milan, and Leao in particular, bounced back from recent points dropped to gain an important three points versus Lecce. The 2-0 win combined with Roma’s result – a loss at Atalanta – kept Milan hanging on to 4th place in the Serie A standings.

The final stretch of the season is now in full swing with a busy schedule matches in the coming month that includes the Champions League semi fianls of course. The Champions League opponent, Inter, have not shone in the league in recent weeks and sit in sixth place. Champions League tips has the semi finals derby difficult to gauge because both teams have struggled in the league while progressing in Europe.

As it turns out this week 32 match in Roma is a big battle for the top four spot. Fate has the two teams tied at 56 points. Paulo Dybala limped off at the end of Roma’s last match at Atalanta but he is not completely ruled out. Roma will need him if they are to keep their top European qualification spot. Milan will be missing Pobega and Ibra. The latter is pretty much out of the footballing picture unable to stay healthy. He would be well advised to take up a management post with Milan but Ibra is a lion and one never knows what will happen now or next season. Elsewhere on the pitch Kjaer could start in central defense and be the experienced leader for this now very crucial match. Tomori, Calabria and Theo will round up the defense behind Krunic and Tonali who in turn will be behind Bennacer. The more advanced role played by the Algerian has been a success and he will likely keep pushing Diaz to the right. Leao, and his 12 league goals so far, is of course on the left hand side. Giroud should be available again to play up front.

Andrea Belotti is likely to get a start for Roma and another familiar name to Milan fans will too. Stephan El Shaarawy will be meeting Milan again. Mourinho’s men had won three in a row prior to the loss against Gian Piero Gasperini’s Nerazzurri.

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

Week 31: Milan – Lecce

Milan – Lecce April 23 2023 18:00CET

Against all odd Milan made it to the Champions League semis by beating Napoli 2-1 in aggregate. The league form, due to changes in the starting line up has not matched the UCL one. It wasn’t easy against Napoli but Maignan, Leao and co shone in the tie and set up a Milan derby Champions League semi final.

As most expected Juventus got their 15 points deduction reversed, pending a new trial. There was little resistance to the team’s appeal and the reversal leapfrogged Juventus to third place and knocked Milan out of the Champions League places. The final games of the season will be crucial to next season’s financial outlook and more.

An injury free team news didn’t last with Pobega and Giroud unable to make the squad. Rebic replaces Giroud up front with Ibra back on the bench. Calabria has a yellow accumulation suspension and is replaced by Kalulu. The starting 11 is Maignan; Kalulu, Thiaw, Tomori, Theo; Krunic, Tonali; Messias, Díaz, Leao; Rebic.

Lecce have struggled for a good part of the season and are currently 16th with last winning in mid February.

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

Champions League Quarterfinals Second Leg: Napoli – Milan

Napoli – Milan April 18 2023 21:00CET

Milan scored early, courtesy of Diaz, and hung on to beat Napoli 1-0 in the quarter finals first leg. The second leg will have Milan trying to reach the semi finals of the Champions League and grab a relative big sum of cash that comes with it.

The lineup will likely remain unchanged from the one that beat Napoli at the San Siro as Milan try to replicate the match and eliminate the Serie A leaders from the UEFA competition. Bennacer playing a more advanced role in front of Krunic and Tonali worked well and may be tried again. Diaz pushed to the right has looked very good as well. Giroud is carrying a knock but word is he will be available. This means the starting 11 is likely to be Maignan; Calabria, Kjaer, Tomori, Theo; Krunic, Tonali; Diaz, Bennacer, Leao; and Giroud.

Napoli missed their leading scorer last week but Victor Osimhen makes a return from injury to face Milan. However, several other Napoli players will miss this match through suspension and injury. Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa was sent off versus Milan and Kim Min-jae got himself suspended due to yellow card accumulation. Giovanni Simeone is expected to be sidelined due to injury.

The animosity between the two 11s and indeed the coaches and management as well has grown as the teams are meeting for the third time in a few short days. Spalletti and Maldini’s confrontation after the first leg has been making headlines as has Napoli fans’ insults hurled at Theo and other Milan players.

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

Week 30: Bologna – Milan

Bologna – Milan April 15 2023 15:00CET

Pioli made several changes vs Empoli in week 29 and the 0-0 home time undid some of the momentum and gains of the 4-0 rout at Napoli. Origi and Rebic came under further criticism and starting them pretty much backfired. Milan rebounded at beat Tottenham 1-0 in the first leg of the Champions League quarter finals, courtesy of an improving Diaz.

With a top four spot still very much in play Pioli and – the almost healthy – Milan squad must find a balance between the Serie A and the Champions League. Word is that this week 30 match at Bologna will feature even more changes with all of Florenzi, Ballo-Toure, Pobega, Vranckx, Rebic, De Ketelaere and Origi possibly starting. It is a big gamble and if it fails Milan could find themselves in more danger of losing out of the top four places. The second leg of the quarter final versus Napoli is midweek and the next few days will dictate Milan’s season more than most.

Riccardo Orsolini is among the important absentees as he is suspended for this match. Marko Arnautovic and Andrea Cambiaso will miss this match as well. Lazio won their match day 30 by beating Spezia 3-0 and are putting some distance between themselves and the pack fighting for places behind league leaders Napoli. Finishing the season in second place is looking increasingly difficult.

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

Champions League Quarterfinals: Milan – Napoli

Milan – Napoli April 12 2023 21:00CET

With the backdrop of the 4-0 rout of Napoli the two teams meet again, this time in the Champions League quarterfinals. Milan wasted the good surprise effort of beating Napoli away by tying Empoli at home. A top 4 spot remains very much uncertain. Managing to go deeper in the 2022-2023 Champions League would be a huge boost financially and football-wise but it will be tough task. At least Napoli are very beatable. The team will continue to miss Victor Osimhen and could also miss Giovanni Simeone and therefore the attacking reposnisblity will fall mainly on Giacomo Raspadori’s shoulders. Hirving Lozano and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia will need to be subdued for Milan to stand a chance of winning this tie.

Pioli and Milan rested five players versus Empoli, to poor effect, but the players trusted for the 4-0 win at the Maradona should be back for this Champions League first leg. This means Krunic and Tonali as pivots with Bennacer further forward and Diaz pushed to the right. The back four should survive as well with Kjaer a likely starter with Tomori, Calabria and Theo. Leao and Giroud will hope to show good form. Recently sidelined Messias and Kalulu are ready for the bench.

The second leg of the tie will take place next week so neither team has much of chance to rest. The 4-0 win suggests that Milan have a chance to advance but a lot will depend on which teams show up and how the tactics adapt.

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

Week 29: Milan – Empoli

Milan – Empoli April 7 2023 21:00CET

Milan shocked just about everyone by beating Napoli 4-0 away. The big win along with a return to form of Leao and a return to the back four was unexpected and, for Milan fans, a sigh of relief. Victor Osimhen’s absence had a part in Napoli’s loss but Milan got about everything right tactically with Pioli deserving of credit. Luciano Spalletti’s outburst after the game, aimed at Leao’s celebrations, was indicative of Milan’s dominance.

Before seeing if Milan can keep this new found confidence going versus Napoli in the Champions League quarter finals the rossoneri need to contend with Empoli. Kalulu and Ibra make up the injured list with the back four expected to survive. Maignan, Theo, Thiaw, Tomori and Calabria will likely keep their place. Bennacer and Tonali should make the pivot roles. The game versus Napoli featured Krunic in the pivot role pushing Bennacer sometimes more forward. Krunic, despite many critics, has showed his qualities but may sit this one out to reappear against Napoli in the middle of the week. Saelemaekers made a couple of Messi-esque runs and scored on one of them. His form was also jaw dropping and if he uses the confidence he showed last week Milan can benefit during these final weeks of the season. Leao scored twice and late in the week there is word that his contract extension may actually happen. Giroud should start up top and while his form is not exactly great he has surely shown more than Origi and the latter may even not have a future at Milan. Origi signed as a free agent last summer and, with a not so low salary, may be cut loose.

Empoli beat Lecce 1-0 last week. The win was their first since late January when they managed to beat Inter by the same score.

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

Week 28: Napoli – Milan

Napoli – Milan April 2 2023 20:45CET

Milan entered the latest international break reverting into crisis mode. Losing 3-1 to Udinese meant more questions about all on the team, top to bottom. The summer 2022 transfer window remains in focus as the team – with newcomers like De Ketelaere – looking like a regressing group with Pioli’s job in danger too. The final stretch starts the day after April Fool’s day with a top four spot eagerly required. While talk of a new stadium seems to be moving ahead, at snail’s pace of course, upcoming and future transfer windows will define the intervening years until a new home is finally ready.

Milan can not remain without injuries and Ibra has re-joined the list. For some reason still on international duty at 41 Ibra is injured again. Messias and Kalulu are carrying injuries as well. There has been talk of a return to a back four after a few weeks of the back three resulting in some good and some more poor results. Calabria, Kjaer, Tomori and Theo are the likely starters versus the runaway Serie A leaders. Tonali, Bennacer should start as pivots with at least one source claiming Krunic starting in a more advanced role but supporting the pivots. Diaz, Leao and Giroud should take the other spots.

While many wait and hope for Leao’s contract extension saga to have a happy ending the team needs to focus in these final 10 games. Second to sixth place are separated by only six points and this is without counting Juve possibly winning back their 15 points deduction on appeal.

Late in the week brought news that Victor Osimhen will miss at least two weeks with an injury. Therefore a weakened Napoli host Milan this weekend and will remain handicapped for at least one leg of their upcoming Champions League quarterfinals meeting as well. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia is arguably Napoli’s biggest danger man however.

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