Monthly Archive: September 2023

Week 7: Milan – Lazio

Week 7 Milan – Lazio Saturday September 30 18:00CET

A changed team featuring Okafor, Chukwueze and notably Adli in the starting 11 overcame an early setback and goal conceded to beat struggling Cagliari 3-1. Adli’s appearance as a starter was a surprise and was praised afterwards. The midfielder played a more central somewhat creative role and upped his reputation.

The question right after the match, partly due to the busy schedule, was that if Adli is to keep his place. Playing Lazio, even though they are not exactly in great form, is a different animal than playing 19th placed Cagliari. The predicted lineup of the local press now claim that he will indeed keep his place. Giroud and Leao though, will return to the starting line up along with Pulisic. Reijnders and Loftus-Cheek should start as well. The only other question mark is which of Calabria or Florenzi will start. Thiaw, Tomori and Theo should keep the other back four places.

Latest news also confirm that Maignan has recovered and can start. Sportiello deputized more than capably and should be trusted if the French number 1 goalkeeper needs more time off.

Lazio have two wins out of six to start the season and sit in the 12th spot. The summer saw a big change for the Biancocelesti as Sergej Milinkovic-Savic departed for the Saudi riches. Their midfield now features newcomers like Matteo Guendouzi, Nicolo Rovella and others. Lazio also ended up being the Daichi Kamada’s destination. The Japanese attacking midfielder was steps away from joining Milan on a free transfer this past summer.

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Week 6: Cagliari – Milan

Cagliari – Milan Wednesday September 27 2023 18:30CET

An underwhelming, lackluster 1-0 win versus Verona was nevertheless a welcome three points. For the week 5 match Pioli somewhat inexplicably switched to a 3-4-3 using Florenzi higher on the pitch. The game was devoid of much drama however and an early Leao goal was probably the only noteworthy point or highlight.

Week 6 comes quickly on a weekday as the schedule ramps up as is usual in world football. The idea of giving a rest to Giroud was mentioned for week 5 but it seems that the Frenchman will get a rest for this visit to the Rossoblu. Jovic is the backup who has shown little in the minutes he has gotten so far. Maignan is not ready and could be out another few days so Sportiello will get another start in goal. The goalkeeper showed flashes of great reflexes in the weekend start. Neither Calabria nor Hernandez seem 100% fit but both may start in a return to a 4-3-3. The midfield looks to feature Loftus-Cheek, Reijnders and Pobega. Reijnders is being used in Krunic’s more defensive role and it is interesting to see that he is perhaps the best performing summer signing so far. Musah could start in Pobega’s place and he showed a good deal of promise over the weekend.

Claudio Ranieri led Cagliari are winless in the first five games of the season and feature a long injured list that has the likes of Gianluca Lapadula, Leonardo Pavoletti, Marko Rog and Jakub Jankto either out or not fully fit.

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Week 5: Milan – Verona

Milan – Verona Saturday September 23 2023 15:00CET

The derby humiliation was followed by a 0-0 tie versus Newcastle in the opening night of the new Champions League season. The Newcastle game featured a dominant Milan, particularly in the first half, who was nevertheless unable to beat Nick Pope or finish chances. Leao and others needed and need to be more focused and play a simple game. One particular point of criticism was Leao attempting backheel right in front of Newcastle’s goal. The Portuguese could have opted to turn and try to tap in the ball but didn’t. This message seems obvious but is not always put into practice.

As the season progresses injuries do keep being added. Maignan, by now developing an injury prone tag, went down during the Newcastle game and fortunately his time on the sidelines is expected to be short. Sportiello will deputize. Loftus-Cheek did also come off during the aforementioned game but his injury is not thought to be serious. There is also a Pulisic/Chukwueze rivalry developing. Pulisic may still hold the upper hand for the right wing position but Pioli is non-committal and unpredictable. The two players’ availability is of course a plus for depth of the team.

There is word that Pioli might opt for more rotation and possibly even a 3-4-3. The mooted 3-4-3 will feature Florenzi moving up and joining Musah, Reijnders and Krunic in midfield. The back three will be a trio of Kjaer, Tomori and Thiaw. In both cases Pulisic, Giroud and Leao are the most likely starters. If Giroud needs rest Okafor is the most likely to be given the chance to play up front.

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Champions League Opener: Milan – Newcastle

Milan – Newcastle Tuesday September 19 2023 18:45CET

The 2023-2024 Champions League kicks off with Milan hosting Newcastle. The match comes after yet another loss and rout versus Inter. Of course the mood and atmosphere has changed radically especially because Milan not only lost the derby but were humiliated by a four goal margin.

Pioli’s post derby words have added fuel to the disappointment and anger. He used his time with the press to insist an apology (to fans) is not necessary and claimed (pretended?) that Milan’s big advantage in possession was a positive to take away from the match.

A few changes are expected when Tonali’s – the ex-Milan player is reportedly recovered from injury and will start – Newcastle come to the San Siro. Tomori will return to the pitch after having missed the derby through suspension. The weekend’s disastrous defensive performance needs to be forgotten and perhaps Tomori, instead of the aging Kjaer, can provide a solid showing versus an English Premier League team. It is expected that Pulisic will make way for Chukwueze. Perhaps more controversially late word is that Pioli will drop Reijnders in favour of Pobega. While commenting on this match Pioli mentioned that Reijnders is not indispensable. It is certainly an odd statement to make about one of the best performers of this young season.

Newcastle sit in the middle of the EPL table after five matches. The visitors’ teams includes another name familiar to Milan fans in Sven Botman. The Dutch defender was on the verge of joining Milan during the 2022 summer transfer window.

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Week 4: Derby Della Madonnina

Inter – Milan Saturday September 16 2023 18:00CET

The Milan derby is happening relatively early in the 2023-2024 Serie A season. The teams are meeting on a high with both starting the season with three wins to sit jointly atop of the table. The teams are however not following an identical formula. Inter continue to seek out more established names in the transfer window. The likes of Benjamin Pavard and Yann Sommer and even arguably Marcus Thuram differ from the market strategy that Milan has taken. Milan’s summer 2023 transfer activity resembled more of a reset with the average age of the 10 newcomers being under 24 years.

This derby follows an early season international break and as is customary several players return injured or not 100%. Giroud was substituted early in his country’s match versus Ireland. Late word is that he is going to be ok but if he is deemed not ready newcomer Luka Jovic could deputize. Kalulu is also on the injured list but this time the injury occurred while training at milanello. Therefore the back four is going to be an issue because Tomori received two yellows in week 3’s match at Roma and is suspended for this match. Kjaer and Thiaw look to be the partnership with Calabria and Theo as fullbacks.

Milan’s recent record versus Inter has been poor at best and it is hoped that the switch to a three man midfield of Krunic, Reijnders and Loftus-Cheek can better deal with Simone Inzaghi and Inter’s five man midfield. Inter have managed to outman and outplay Milan through the middle. Pioli and Milan will have to reverse this recent trend that has meant only two wins in last 10 meetings between the two.

Leao and Pulisic should continue to start on the wings with the latter creating an early name for himself and becoming one of the faces of the team on and off the pitch. Marcus Thuram and Lautaro Martinez will be a handful for Milan’s defence.

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Milan’s Busy Summer Of 2023

Milan Summer 2023 arrivals

Last season’s end – and a season of regression – was swiftly followed by very unpopular moves. Maldini exited his director role and this was followed by Tonali’s sale to Newcastle. Gerry Cardinale’s promise of wanting to keep Milan at the highest levels seemed like facade. Things didn’t quite turn as badly as it looked.

Chairman Giorgio Furlani and scout Geoffrey Moncada got to work in a bigger than expected rebuild. By the time the dust settled and the transfer window closed 10 new arrivals had arrived for an approximate transfer fee of €114 million.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Christian Pulisic
Luka Romero
Marco Sportiello
Noah Okafor
Tijjani Reijnders
Samuel Chukwueze
Yunus Musah
Marco Pellegrino
Luka Jovic

Perhaps more impressively or crucially are the exits. These summer exits were deemed difficult or even impossible and though it took until the dying seconds of the transfer window – and mostly on loan – their departure can be considered a success. The only significant income from these departures are the reported €65 million Newcastle paid for Tonali.

Ibra (retired)
Charles De Ketelaere
Jr Messias
Alexis Saelemaekers
Ante Rebic
Divock Origi
Fode Ballo-Toure
Mattia Gabbia
Devis Vasquez
Ciprian Tatarusanu
Sergino Dest
Aster Vranckx
Brahim Diaz
Tiemoue Bakayoko

Champions League money, Tonali’s sale and increased sponsorship money has allowed Milan to move towards profits and initiated another big change or rebuild. With a stadium perhaps moving forward there is room for optimism.

Week 3: Roma – Milan

Roma – Milan Friday September 1 2023 20:45CET

In the aftermath of two wins out of two to start the 2023-2024 Serie A season optimism has risen. The summer moves have satisfied many, if not most fans, despite the earlier losses of Maldini and subsequent sale of Tonali.

Bigger tests on the pitch await starting with away to Roma – including Champions League matchups with PSG, Dortmund and Newcastle. This match is happening in the shadow of the last day of the summer mercato where the search for a Giroud alternative at center forward seems to have hit several stumbling blocks – more on that soon and on the forum.

The starting 11 for this match is likely to be almost unchanged from the first two matches. The biggest question mark seems to be right back position where Kalulu and Calabria compete for the chance to be on the pitch as the Olimpico. Maignan, Thiaw, Tomori and Theo will complete the back line with Loftus-Cheek, (the staying at Milan) Krunic and Reijnders. The middle three have been solid in these early days as have been the front three of Pulisic, Giroud and Leao. When required the backups can provide more satisfactory, and arguably much better, options like Chukwueze and Okafor.

Mourinho’s men have made some intriguing moves this summer bringing in Sardar Azmoun, Romelu Lukaku and Renato Sanches on loan and signing Evan Ndicka on a free transfer. For this match however, none are likely to start and Paolo Dybala is not 100% and looks set to miss the match.

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