AC Milan 2-2 Lecce: Wasteful Rossoneri have themselves to blame in Pioli’s debut

AC Milan once again disappointed their fans as Lecce managed to snatch one point at the San Siro, scoring the equaliser with just a few minutes left on the clock. A nightmare for Stefano Pioli, therefore, who didn’t get the birthday that he wished for.

The Rossoneri came out flying in the first half as Rafael Leao got two good chances within the first two minutes, both assisted by Calhanoglu. However, the Portuguese youngster failed to get his finishing right as Lecce managed to avoid conceding early on. A promising start, in other words. Continue reading

AC Milan vs. Lecce: Team news, stats and prediction

For the first time, Stefano Pioli will enter the San Siro dugout as manager of AC Milan, having replaced Marco Giampaolo seven rounds into the season. Tomorrow, Lecce will pay a visit to the stadium, with kick-off scheduled for 20:45 Italy time. 

Of course, it will be a very important game for the former Fiorentina manager, but also for the Rossoneri. After a very poor start to the season, they need to bounce back with a great performance, following up on the win against Genoa last time out. However, even though they are favourites, it won’t be easy.  Continue reading

The experienced players need to step up as AC Milan face difficult period

Having sacked Marco Giampaolo, it’s now up to Stefano Pioli to turn things around at AC Milan. However, no one is expecting it to be easy, and thus the manager will need every bit of help that he can get to improve the Rossoneri’s position in the standings.

Of course, a little bit of luck is never bad, but above all, he will need the experienced players of the squad to step up. In other words, the likes of Reina, Romagnoli (as he is the captain), Biglia and to some extent even Borini. After all, it’s not only about the work on the pitch, but also off it.  Continue reading

Which Serie A team has the most margin for improvement this season?

The second international break of the season is a good opportunity for Serie A teams to take stock of their strengths and weaknesses. Both Milan and Sampdoria went beyond a self appraisal and decided to use the two week window with no games as an opportunity to make a coaching change, but for the rest this break is the ideal time to find ways to improve.

With that in mind, which top Serie A teams have the most margins for improvement? let’s rank them

 

 

Atalanta 

While many, including yours truly, genuinely believed there would be some regression after a stellar season that saw most of their top players perform at the highest level of their careers, Atalanta have been just as devastating in Serie A where they find themselves in third place and with the second highest goal differential in the league.

But unlike the other teams listed in this article, there isn’t much margin for improvement. Duvan Zapata will be out for three weeks following an injury during the international break, the defense has performed better than expected with Kjaer seamlessly replacing Mancini and goalkeeper Gollini earning a selection to the Italian national team. Atalanta will however now be able to play their home matches in Bergamo again after their curva was rebuilt and new addition Malinovski can continue to improve while Ilicic has yet to be as consistently brilliant as last season. Atalanta will have to continue to prove they aren’t a fluke rather than looking for ways to get better.

 

Inter

 

The nerazzurri won their first six Serie A matches of the season before losing to Juventus in a close match at San Siro. They have the best goal differential in the league with plus 10, have received some strong contributions from almost all their new additions especially Godin, Barella and Sensi while Handanovic, De Vrij and Brozovic continue to be some of the best players at their respective position in all of Serie A.

While the nerazzurri have performed at almost their peak level in the domestic league, there’s still some margin for improvement once Romelu Lukaku develops more chemistry with Lautaro Martinez. With D’Ambrosio’s recent injury we’ll also likely see Valentino Lazaro make his debut- the Austrian international has the potential to be an upgrade from what we’ve seen from Candreva to so far this season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lazio 

 

No top Serie A team went through less changes than the biancocelesti who brought back manager Simone Inzaghi as well we as all of their core players. With that in mind, they have fallen short of expectations since they are in sixth place because they are unable to consistently win the matches in which they are the favorites.

Luis Alberto, Milinkovic Savic, Acerbi and especially Immobile have performed at their top level which doesn’t leave much room for growth beyond hoping new center back Vavro and wingback Lazzari can become the impactful additions they were expected to become. Lazzari had gotten off to a strong start but then struggled enough to lose playing time to Marusic.

 

Roma

The giallorossi are one of the most exciting team to watch in Serie A because of their free flowing offense and their leaky backline. Roma should be a bit concerned with the fact Dzeko and Kolarov have been their two best players, but they can also point to some significant margins for improvement once Pellegrini, Under and Mkhitaryan return from their injuries and once Gianluca Mancini and Chris Smalling can get more reps playing together.

 

 

Juventus 

 

Right before the international break, Inter were reminded of the saying “if you want to be the champ, you have to beat the champ”. Juventus displayed their depth and ruthlessness at San Siro in the final Serie A match and reminded the rest of the league why they’ve won the last eight scudetti.

If that wasn’t frightening enough, the bianconeri have considerable margins for improvement- Sarri now has more time to implement his ideas and because of the depth of his squad, he can alternate between two formations. Douglas Costa is returning from an injury, Dybala has started to develop better chemistry with Cristiano Ronaldo, and speaking of the Portuguese striker, it’s only a matter of time until he goes on a scoring streak.

If that weren’t enough De Ligt can be considerably better than what he’s shown so far, Rabiot could eventually replace Matuidi and Chiellini will be back for the stretch run of the season.

 

Milan 

 

The rossoneri are three points away from relegation zone and four behind Napoli for the last Champions League spot so they have some clear margins for improvements while also having hope they can completely turn their season around. Their new manager Pioli has been in a similar situation when he took over at Inter a few years ago and it’s hard to imagine Paqueta’ and Piatek not turning things around in a new system.

Look for Pioli to get the most out of new additions Leao, Hernandez, Bennacer and Rebic while Caldara could be an upgrade over Musacchio as Romagnoli’s partner. A healthy Bonaventura would also feel like what Galliani would describe “as like a new addition”.

 

Napoli 

 

While the partenopei are in nowhere near as dire a situation as Milan, they have the most margin for improvement of any top team. Koulibaly has really struggled since missing the pre season because of the Africa Cup, Milik will finally be fully fit for the first time this season after rehabbing from a painful injury, while both Manolas and Lozano have yet to perform at the level expected from two of the most expensive additions in the club’s history. Ancelotti’s squad could also receive a significant boost from a return to form for Lorenzo Insigne and Faouzi Ghoulam.

 

New AC Milan boss Pioli right to give Piatek another chance

Following a disappointing start to the season, Stefano Pioli has officially taken over from Marco Giampaolo, who had his job for just seven games. Next week, the first game under the new manager will take place, as Lecce will pay a visit to the San Siro. 

However, it remains to be seen which players Pioli will opt for in the starting eleven, especially up front. The other two departments, namely the defence and midfield, have more or less been decided already, at least so it seems. For the attack, on the other hand, it is different. Continue reading

How AC Milan could line up with Stefano Pioli in charge

Stefano Pioli’s AC Milan is taking shape. Even though many players are away on international duty this week, the former Fiorentina manager has had some time to work with part of the first-team squad at Milanello, and the media seem to have a pretty clear picture of how the Rossoneri will line up come next Saturday. 

Just like Marco Giampaolo, who was sacked from his position earlier this week, Pioli is expected to use the 4-3-3 formation as it’s the best option based on the players that Milan have. Furthermore, the 4-2-3-1 formation is expected to be the alternative, given that he has alternated between the two in the past. Continue reading

First thoughts on Stefano Pioli’s arrival at AC Milan

Following a very disappointing start to the season, AC Milan decided to part ways with Marco Giampaolo on Tuesday evening. Of course, given that we are in the middle of the season, the Rossoneri had a replacement lined up straight away, namely Stefano Pioli.

However, the former Fiorentina manager has sparked many negative reactions among the Rossoneri faithful, who even before he was announced managed to get the hashtag #PioliOut trending worldwide (!). Despite this, and perhaps rightly so, the management stuck by their decision and announced the appointment earlier today. Continue reading

International Break Coaching Carousel

The second international break of the season is typically an opportunity for Serie A clubs to (over)react to a poor start to the season and make a coaching change. The extra week of training allows for a new manager to more easily settle into a new reality, so we’ll likely see a change or two, while other managers may receive the dreaded vote of confidence.

While many assumed Vincenzo Montella would be the first manager replaced, especially since he hadn’t been hired by Fiorentina’s new owners, the former Milan manager has actually strived after a poor start. Ironically the managers most in danger of losing their jobs (and one of them will have likely received a pink slip by the time you read this) were all hired during the summer so in a sane world you would assume they would be getting a bit more time. 

  

 

Available Jobs

 

Milan- despite the chaotic win against Genoa, the rossoneri are seriously considering sacking Marco Giampaolo. The former Sampdoria manager has looked confused in every aspect of his job- his lineups featured some desperate decisions (Andre’ Silva starting two days before being loaned out as the most egregious example), he hasn’t developed the players the club acquired in the summer, Paqueta and especially PIatek have regressed on his watch, he gave up on the formation he used all summer and has made puzzling statements during interviews- an important aspect of the job at a club of Milan’s magnitude.

Beyond improving on results, the most important task for Milan’s next manager will be to develop Bennacer, Leao, Hernandez, Rebic and get Paqueta and Piatek back on track because of the significant expense of acquiring them. Milan also needs a manager who will get them to play as hard as they did under Giampaolo’s predecessor Rino Gattuso. 

 

Genoa- after avoiding relegation in the final match of the season, president Preziosi bolstered the squad significantly in the summer by signing defenders Zapata and Barreca, promising striker Pinamonti and (shockingly) former Ajax starting midfielder Schone. Preziosi entrusted the team to Aurelio Andreazzoli who was known for playing a version of Sarriball at Empoli while using a 3 man defense.

There were strong indications Andreazzoli would be sacked after the 4-0 loss to Lazio and the subsequent defeat against Milan makes his situation even more dire. Genoa will need a manager who can guide them out of the relegation which won’t be easy considering that all three newly promoted teams look well equipped for Serie A- to add insult to injury, former Genoa manager Juric has done very well with Hellas Verona.

Sampdoria- the blucerchiati lost two of their best players in the summer in Praet and Andersen and even the most optimistic person couldn’t have expected Quagliarella to come close to repeating his previous campaign. Eusebio Di Francesco will likely be sacked by the time you read this, his situation (and that of his eventual replacement) will be further complicated by the fact the club has been rumored to be sold for the past few months. Just like Genoa, Sampdoria need a manager who can get them results immediately.

Udinese- just a few weeks ago, sporting director Marino shared some harsh words about manager Igor Tudor and it feels likely that a change will happen in next few weeks. While Udinese were surprisingly able to hold on to De Paul, they have one of the lowest payrolls in Serie A, further proof that a state of the art club owned stadium isn’t a silver bullet to solve all problems. The Friulani will need a manager able to get the most out of Fofana, Mandragora, Lasagna and De Paul to avoid relegation.

 

Managerial Candidates

 

Luciano Spalletti- certainly understandable that Milan fans would love to see him replace Giampaolo since he did get Inter back to the Champions League for two years in arrow, but considering that Spalletti is still earning over 4 million after taxes from Inter (and has a long term contract) it’s almost certain he’ll take a sabbatical year like Conte did with Chelsea, rather than taking over a team in crisis mid season and one that will have to deal with Financial Fair Play restrictions for foreseeable future. This also applies to Max Allegri, who will almost certainly coach abroad next season.

Claudio Ranieri- the architect of the Leicester miracle did quite well at Roma when he replaced Di Francesco. He solidified the defense, made a much needed goalkeeper change and almost got the giallorossi to the Champions League. Ranieri is an ideal stop gap option for a big club, on top of being very tactically sound, he’s used to the pressures of managing a big club- plus he’s a very likeable guy which helps with how a team in crisis is perceived.

Stefano Pioli- Fiorentina got significantly worse last season when Montella replaced him. Pioli also did fairly well when he took over at Inter mid season but did suffer an end of the season classic Pazza Inter collapse, he also received universal praise for how he handled Astori’s tragic death. Pioli can also be more than just a stop gap manager for a club like Sampdoria or Genoa, while for Milan he would be likely a bridge to next season.

Rino Gattuso- his reputation as a manager has certainly improved when you consider he had a Milan, that was no better than current version and likely worse, contending for a Champions League spot going into last match of the season. Gattuso was linked to Genoa after their devastating loss to Lazio and a return to Milan cannot be fully excluded.

Rudi Garcia- the former Marseille manager had an overall successful stint at Roma and could be an option for Milan should they decide to go with a manager who could lead them beyond this season.  

 

Beppe Iachini- while he’s mainly known for being the longest tenured manager of the Zamparini era at Palermo, last season his reputation took a hit when he failed to save Empoli who eventually went back to Andreazzoli and achieved better results. Iachini will likely either be a backup option for the clubs who fail to sign Pioli or could return to Udinese.

 

Genoa 1-2 AC Milan: Three points in the bag but is it enough for Giampaolo?

AC Milan somehow managed to bring home the three points from the away clash with Genoa, coming back from behind to win by two goals to one. However, Giampaolo’s future is still hanging by a thread, and it remains to be seen what the leadership will decide to do. 

Straight off the bat, you could tell how the first half was going to pan out. Genoa applied a high line on the Rossoneri back-four, which put the defenders in trouble in every situation. Therefore, as has been the weakness for Milan for a long time, they failed to play out from the back, losing the ball to the opponents. Continue reading

AC Milan 1-3 Fiorentina: Giampaolo’s position at risk following new loss

AC Milan continue to disappoint. Against Fiorentina, the Rossoneri lacked many things, putting in a terrible performance as Montella’s men were able to grab an easy win at the San Siro. Therefore, Giampaolo’s position is in doubt, as the management is getting impatient. 

Milan started the game relatively well, keeping hold of the ball while Fiorentina decided to approach the clash with caution. However, La Viola quickly got going as the home side started to make mistakes, which cost them dearly already after 12 minutes of play. Continue reading