Against Spezia, a victory is worth first place. But the blanket is very short: behind confirmed Kalulu and Gabbia, in the middle Bakayoko and Krunic are the only tenured midfielders available
Once upon a time, and not too far away, trouble was on the attack. Ibra and Giroud seemed to be competing between who ran into the greatest number of troubles, Rebic and Leao seemed lost in the mists of the infirmary, Castillejo idem, Covid opacified Diaz and Pellegri never arrived. Now, there in front of Pioli is spoiled for choice. Two players per position, long bench and many options. It is in the 70 meters further back that the flaws are now concentrated, precisely in the match against Spezia at home, which is worth overtaking Inter at the top of the championship.
Pioli finds himself with two departments upside down. Defense and median. And he is forced to field two “double pairs” impossible to predict at the beginning of the season. Let’s start with the defense. In front of Maignan the deck is very short because Kjaer, Tomori and Romagnoli are missing. What happened to Tomori is grotesque: injury to the meniscus three days after being healed from Covid. Does it rain in the wet at Milanello? No, it hails. Kjaer, as is well known, we will see him again at the July meeting, while Romagnoli is also waiting for him to become negativized. Result: the only central players available were, and remain, Gabbia and Kalulu, who would be more full-back than central. Tomori’s return was therefore manna from heaven in terms of value and rotations, but we have returned to the starting point.
It must be said that Pierre and Matteo have not fared badly so far, for being a whole new tandem. With them on the pitch, Milan have only conceded one goal in three games, against Roma. Unscathed in Venice and also unscathed with Genoa in the Italian Cup, where Ostigard’s goal arrived before Tomori left the scene. Soon the bar will rise further: Juve (January 23) and Inter (February 6) will arrive after Spezia, but for those dates it is conceivable that Romagnoli is back at his disposal. Club vigilant on the market, therefore. But if the first choice, as it seems, remains Bailly, it must be considered that the United central is engaged together with Kessie in the African Cup with the Ivory Coast, and therefore would not arrive quickly.
If the strange couple Kalulu and Gabbia have already given comforting indications, another totally new one is looming on the horizon. In Pioli’s 4-2-3-1 on Monday against Spezia, Bakayoko and Krunic should be placed in the median. In fact, three are absent for this challenge. Kessie and Bennacer in the Africa Cup, Tonali disqualified (and obviously for the fans the consideration / deduction is plebiscite: Sandro did well to “get” warned in Venice, so as not to run the risk of missing Juve or Inter). “Baka” and Krunic, another “strange couple”, with the Rossoneri people begging the French, in a (slow) phase of improvement and very far from the functional midfielder of the last part of the season in his first AC Milan adventure. Even with Genoa Bakayoko started with a horror film performance, guilty of sensational mistakes. Pioli actually has already pointed out that he can also count on some other options in that area of the pitch and had mentioned the names of Calabria, Florenzi and Saelemaekers. But it is clear that, in all cases, these are tactical forcing.
January 17 – 07:24
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Milan, the great opportunity for overtaking. But for Pioli it is full emergency