Monthly Archive: April 2024

Week 34: Juventus – Milan

Juventus – Milan Saturday April 27 2024 18:00CET

The derby unfolded as some feared. Milan looked unconvincing at best and the tactics, notably starting Leao as a more central striker, did not work as many expected too. Some late urgency added little to the saddening and even humiliating sight of Inter winning the Scudetto in front of Milan fans. Pioli’s future brought into more question has perhaps been sealed now. Some of the supposed replacement choices look to be questionable but that’s for later.

The manner in which the derby ended exposed another Milan weakness. Theo got involved with Denzel Dumfries again and will be suspended for this week 34 match at Juventus. Calabria’ elbow hit on Davide Frattesi was reckless and has handed the right back a two game suspension. To top it off Tomori’s yellow makes him the third player to miss this clash with the third placed team. Kjaer and Kalulu’s absence means that Gabbia and Thiaw are the only two available center backs. Florenzi and Musah are set to play left and right back respectively. Terracciano remains an option at full back. Bennacer and Reijnders will start in front the back four. Leao, Loftus-Cheek and Pulisic will start behind Giroud. The latter is on his way to LAFC of the MLS and his departure will kick the search for a new (young) striker into high gear.

Juventus are going their own version of league struggles with only one Serie A win since the beginning of March. However the gap between the two teams is only five points and if Milan want to keep the second place race secure points are needed.

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Week 33: Milan – Inter

Milan – Inter Monday April 22 2024 20:45CET

A winning run has been interrupted by two European losses to Roma and a mediocre tie versus relegation candidates Sassuolo. These results have soured the Pioli stay expectations to the point that his summer departure is all but confirmed. On the eve of a derby where Inter can clinch the Scudetto with a win it seems that Milan are already close to choosing Pioli’s successor. Many names have already floated by the media, most not exciting, but it would be a surprise if a selection is indeed imminent as claimed by a few.

As for this game itself it is important that the players themselves realize that allowing Inter a celebration on Milan’s turf, this being a home game, would be nothing short of humiliating. Pioli’s mostly predictable line up and formation may not hold much of a surprise for Simone Inzaghi’s Inter and that has proven stubborn, naive and dangerous. Recent derbies have been one of the main showcases of Pioli’s weaknesses as coach.

There is a central defender shortage as Thiaw managed to get a yellow cards suspension at Sassuolo. Kalulu is still out and Kjaer is struggling with a knock. This leaves Gabbia and Tomori as certain starters. Simic would be an option but he is doing well with the primavera and has led Abate’s men to the UEFA Youth League final – where they will meet Olympiacos. Maignan is in goal and Calabria and Hernandez will be the full backs. Some uncertainty exists in the midfield as Bennacer has a chance to start despite less than good form. Adli could start and his passion for the cause has been greater than most. Reijnders is the other likely starter. Pulisic, Loftus-Cheek and Leao plus Giroud should be the starting front line leaving no space for Chukwueze. The latter has been gaining momentum but it remains to be seen if Pioli is willing to tweak his starting 11.

Inter, as mentioned on their way to the title, are a relatively healthy squad with only Juan Cuadrado on the sidelines. The Colombian is set to leave Inter at the end of the season.

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Week 32: Sassuolo – Milan

Sassuolo – Milan Sunday April 14 2024 15:00CET

Following the 3-0 win versus Lecce the winning run was interrupted in the Europa League quarter finals first leg 0-1 loss to Roma. The Daniele De Rossi led visitors faced a mediocre looking Milan and the new Roma coach out managed Pioli. The team showed late urgency which featured a poor Giroud miss and of course a catalog of refereeing question marks. VAR and on the pitch decisions remain as controversial as ever.

Late in the week it has been announced that Maignan will miss this week 32 match due to fatigue and Sportiello will hop into the starting spot. Florenzi will allow Calabria some rest and start with Kjaer and Tomori. It is possible that there will be further rotation as Terracciano has a chance to start as well giving Theo a day off. Adli, Musah and Reijnders should start in the middle but further changes are expected on the wings and upfront. Jovic, Okafor and Chukwueze are set to make up a much changed starting 11. Previous heavy rotation games have not been produced the needed result and this may give some caution to Pioli. The coach’s future seems to be with Milan but rumours and reports are just that and it is hoped management will make a more objective analysis of the season overall in the summer.

Sassuolo have had a disappointing season sitting in the relegation spots and will miss two famous names for Milan fans. Both Domenico Berardi and Samu Castillejo are among the players missing this match.

Juventus has dropped a further two points leading up to this match. The Turin derby has ended in a scoreless tie and so a win versus the lowly Sassuolo further solidifies second spot, +8 from third place Juventus, heading into the derby della madonnina and the final weeks of the season.

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Week 31: Milan – Lecce

Milan – Lecce Saturday April 6 2024 15:00CET

Every win brings the team closer to keeping Pioli for next season. The coach’s fate seemed almost certain a few weeks ago but a winning run dating back to over a month has resurrected the idea of Pioli staying. While management may be being convinced the same can not be said of the fans, A MilanMania poll is less forgiving of the coach and the need for new ideas and tactics. Time will tell and the winning needs to continue.

In just over two week it is time for another derby and Inter fans are salivating over the idea of clinching the Scudetto at the derby. Inter are runaway leaders but the aforementioned winning run has Milan advancing towards second place. Lecce in the 13th spot and Sassuolo in 19th present two big chances for further points to increase the distance from the faltering Juventus.

Theoi returns from a one game suspension however Loftus-Cheek goes into the same. The latter’s absence has made for a rethink of the front line and it is likely that Pulisic moves to the attacking role bind the striker. His right wing spot will be taken by the seemingly improving Chukwueze. Leao will of course continue on the left. There were whispers of a Giroud rest, in favour of Jovic, but it seems that the Frenchman will start. A busy schedule including the Europa League quarter finals versus Roma await and rotation may be on the cards. Pioli will have to be cautious however as recent rotation or experiments have mostly backfired.

Adli and Reijnders will likely keep the pivot spots with Gabbia and Tomori the favorites for the middle of defense. Calabria, Theo and Maignan round out the starting 11.

Luca Gotti is now in charge of Lecce after Roberto D’Aversa was dismissed from his position after a headbutting incident last month in the game versus Verona.

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