As there are just four days left until the start of the season, Milan completed their pre-season tour yesterday with a 3-1 win against Brescia. The preparations have certainly been a bit unusual, due to the lack of time, but the Rossoneri handled it well by scheduling several friendlies.
Novara, Monza, Vicenza and Brescia – one Serie C side and three Serie B sides – faced Stefano Pioli’s men and the latter managed to beat all of them convincingly. Sure, the defending perhaps could have been a bit better at times, but that is what you would expect in pre-season and especially due to the makeshift backlines.
As a result of the international break, Pioli got the chance to test a few youngsters in these friendlies, such as Gabriele Bellodi, Pierre Kalulu, Daniel Maldini and Lorenzo Colombo. The latter played in three of the games and managed to score three goals, making him the joint-top goalscorer along with Samu Castillejo.
The 18-year-old is expected to be the backup for Zlatan Ibrahimovic this season and the goals will certainly help boost his confidence. A gamble, you could argue, but the likes of Ante Rebic and Rafael Leao are also available for that role. Furthermore, it’s a gamble that could yield very positive results.
In any case, Milan are about as ready as they can be – under the circumstances – for the Europa League clash against Shamrock Rovers in Ireland on Thursday evening. Unlike previous years, it will be a one-legged affair and thus the Rossoneri can’t afford to underestimate their opponents.
Getting knocked out of the Europa League qualifiers certainly wouldn’t be a good look for Milan. Furthermore, it would inevitably hurt the team’s confidence ahead of the Serie A opener against Bologna on Monday (14th). It’s a scenario they will want to avoid, in other words, although it remains an unlikely one.
Sandro Tonali, who was announced earlier this week, made his debut for Milan in the friendly against Brescia. He didn’t do anything wrong in the 20 minutes he got, although ironically the Rossoneri conceded the goal just after he came on. We saw signs of what he’s capable of but the playing time wasn’t enough to make a full assessment.
Most likely, the starting eleven will be similar to what we saw towards the end of last season. Alessio Romagnoli is still injured and will miss the game against Shamrock Rovers, while Ante Rebic will be serving a three-game suspension in the competition due to a red card he got at Eintracht Frankfurt.
Possible Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Gabbia, Hernandez; Kessie, Bennacer; Castillejo, Calhanoglu, Brahim Diaz (Saelemaekers); Ibrahimovic.
On paper, of course, Milan are big favourites to win the game. That being said, Shamrock Rovers have already played 11 games this season and will physically be in very good shape. It remains to be seen if Pioli’s preparation methods will pay off or not, though it’s hard to argue against his decisions this pre-season.
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