Week 1: Bologna – Milan

Bologna – Milan Monday August 21 2023 20:45CET

A summer of change was not wholly expected, at least not at the scale that it has transpired. When the off season started with the abrupt departure of Paolo Maldini – and the sale of Tonali to Newcastle – expectations were immediately lowered and doom set upon Milan fandom. It has looked different than initial fears. The 2022-2023 was certainly a regression following winning the scudetto the season before, the 2023 calendar year form worse than regression. However wholesale changes and the addressing of at least one chronically poor position – the right wing – has alleviated some of the fears.

As of this writing there have 12 departures from the team that finished the season in early June with eight arrivals since. Integrating them into a gelling team will be the challenge of the early part of the season. Added to that is Bennacer’s long term injury which renders the midfield all new for all practical purposes. Additionally if Pioli opts for a 4-3-3 then the formation will need to be integrated as well. Question marks remains if the 4-2-3-1 is best suited for the players at hand. Having brought in both Pulisic and Chukwueze the 4-3-3 will mean one remains on the bench. The former is marketed as one of the faces of the new team and it would be surprising to not see him every week.

More changes are expected before the transfer window closes in about two weeks but for now the 2023-2024 season starts with a visit to Bologna. Thiago Motta’s team will have much talked about Nicolas Dominguez in their line up but it looks likely that he will depart for greener pastures this month.

Milan look to start with the aforementioned 4-3-3 with Leao, Giroud and Pulisic up front. The almost all new midfield of Loftus-Cheek, Krunic and Reijnders will be facing early tests. Maignan is of course in goal with a more predictable back four of Kalulu, Thiaw, Tomori and Theo. The sometimes alarming form of Tomori was one of the concerns of last season and eyes will be on him more than most.

There will be more changes before September arrives, for now follow the match and the mercato happenings on the forum.