The midfield will pass to three: chance for Pobega. Leao and Theo in crisis, De Ketelaere replaced: is Diaz back?
Stefano Pioli ended the worst Sunday of his AC Milan life in fifth place. Fifth at -15 from Napoli (he is third with Lazio and Atalanta, but the goal difference speaks for itself) and fifth in the trend topics in Milan. The city spoke of him and paid him no compliments. The AC Milan coach, rightly praised for two years, is now rightly on trial and heavily criticized. The most sadistic joke: from “on fire” to “fired”, fired, is a moment. This is tough.
Milan didn’t fire him… and God forbid, but Pioli understood he had to change. Until yesterday he had defended his choices, in words and in deeds. With Lazio he had confirmed the Messias-Diaz-Leao trocar, bad in the Super Cup. With Sassuolo he still chose the 4-2-3-1, despite the fact that Milan clearly struggles to support (and tolerate) four forwards. Yesterday at 3pm, however, he changed his line: “It would be foolish for me to continue on the path that isn’t bringing us results, both tactically and mentally. I’ll do something. The things that worked well up until a few weeks ago didn’t work. so it is clear that there will be some changes”. A revisionism that extends to the past: “The latest performances see us in difficulty, this must push me to understand that certain situations needed to be improved and dealt with in a different way”.
Signs can be put up at Milanello: renovation, work in progress. Pioli has left the team on Mondays off and this too is a particular, courageous but questionable choice. From tomorrow he will train and prepare for the most tense match, the derby at Inter. Worse than that, it’s impossible. “I promise we’ll work all week to win the derby,” said Pioli. But what will change? From a mental point of view, he will speak to the team and to the individuals. Yesterday he asked for unity, tomorrow he will try to shake up the group, he will demand unity and forbid indolence, one of his first enemies.
It is no coincidence that Rafa Leao, who with Lazio had helped little in the defensive phase and showed bad body language, was left out yesterday. He entered the second half, without doing much and confirming the terrible moment: the final part of January, which could have brought the signature on the renewal, showed his limits. Are tensions about the future distracting him? Possible, not sure. Certainly Rafa is not yet a champion, a footballer who leads the team in the decisive moments. Speaking of the head, some sentences from Pioli: “The players are not listless and inattentive, they are experiencing a difficult moment. When we take a slap in the face we find it hard to react. We have to isolate ourselves: we entered this situation for our own shortcomings and we can get out of it for our merits. I have to get into the heads of the players and understand what is needed”.
So far, the words. However, Pioli will have to choose eleven starters on Sunday and the news is certain. The main one, the most awaited, is the three-man midfield. Milan are long and regularly get into trouble on counterattacks, game changes, midfielder insertions. It’s not so much a question of numerical inferiority – Pioli defends man on man – as much as the spaces and attitudes of the players. When an attacker’s pressure fails, the mechanisms for recovering the ball and protecting the goal often fail. Calabria, if aimed, always gets into trouble. Theo, on the left, returned to making mistakes in defense. Pioli will then change, he will cover himself with an extra midfielder. Tonali and Bennacer, barring physical problems, will be there, then Pioli will choose. Pobega, as a midfielder, can come in handy. Krunic, too. Vranckx has fewer chances because, if it hadn’t been understood, Pioli rejected the new ones: Adli, Thiaw, Origi, Dest, the summer arrivals are regularly on the bench.
The only starter, Charles De Ketelaere, was negative yesterday and punished, perhaps beyond the demerits: out in the 45th minute. Difficult to see him again from 1′ in the derby. First hypothesis: Pioli can choose the 4-3-3 (or the 4-3-1-2, more similar than it seems), relaunching Kjaer in defense and clinging to Giroud in front. Brahim Diaz, who was out yesterday, has a chance to return while in defense a lot will depend on Tomori’s conditions, at great risk. Certainly Calabria, among the worst in the last two games, risks much more than usual. Yesterday Pioli officially set the new goal: “The Champions League is our new Scudetto”. If Milan is yesterday’s, however, it’s not a question of the first four teams. If Milan is the one of yesterday, they lose with everyone.
January 30, 2023 (change January 30, 2023 | 1:51 pm)
© REPRODUCTION RESERVED
Leave a Reply