Confident Milan gunning for title with busy transfer window

Milan enters its clash against Atalanta with the possibility of being crowned campioni d’inverno - the winter champions. The team that finishes in first place after the first half of the season typically goes onto win the ultimate crown in Italy.  Milan has shown its willingness to push on this transfer window, securing Fikayo Tomori, Mario Mandzukic, and Soualiho Meite. The Rossoneri’s proactive dealings demonstrate they believe in themselves and their ability to push on for the Scudetto.

Since Ivan Gazidis took over, Milan forged ahead with an ambitious youth project, looking to rejuvenate the side with young prospects on the cusp of greatness. Ismael Bennacer is but one of these players, taking the next step in his career and becoming one of Italian football’s midfield dynamos.

Rafael Leao is another intriguing talent and has since added end product to his game, delivering the goods when called upon. Led by the indomitable Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Milan’s young guns have surprised the rest of Italy, losing just once this season. The Italian giants have recognized the title is there for the taking and have reacted accordingly this January.

Mario Mandzukic offers some much-needed depth in the final third and will make for an excellent vice-Ibra. The Croatian has shown he is capable of starting on the left-wing and roaming into the box dangerously. Whether Pioli deploys him as a more traditional number nine remains to be seen, but Mandzukic’s skillset makes for an interesting pairing with Ibrahimovic.

Beyond guaranteeing goals, Mandzukic’s arrival is a clear signal of intent from Milan. The former Juventus hitman adds some veteran leadership in what is a relatively inexperienced locker room. A proven winner, Milan will be hoping Mandzukic leads by example and spurs the side onto new heights.

On the opposite side of the pitch, the Rossoneri bolstered their defensive ranks with Chelsea’s Fikayo Tomori. The Englishman arrives on a loan deal with an option to buy, offering Mian depth at the back. Simon Kjaer and Alessio Romagnoli are Milan’s undisputed center-back pairing, but Tomori will make for a quality option off the bench.

The 23-year-old kicked off his Chelsea career by bursting onto the scene but has since seen his minutes halved due to the arrival of Thiago Silva. A move to Milan may be exactly what Tomori needs to play regular football and deliver on his incredible potential. Should the Chelsea loanee struggle, Milan will simply not trigger its option to purchase him. In many ways, this deal is yet another win-win for Maldini and co.

Stefano Pioli’s side also wasted no time improving on its midfield depth, securing Meite from Torino. The 26-year-old arrives on a low-risk deal, with Milan holding the option to make his move permanent for a modest fee. Much like Tomori, this six-month loan spell will be Meite’s trial at the club.

Milan’s midfield has been ravaged by injuries and suspensions in recent weeks, forcing Pioli to deploy Davide Calabria in the double pivot. While the fullback has done an adequate job filling in, a player like Meite ensures the Italian giants are not short on options in the middle of the park. Bennacer and Kessie may be Pioli’s first-choice pairing, but Meite could still carve out important minutes for himself – especially as the side competes on three fronts.

Milan has extremely proactive this January transfer window, arming its side with quality depth ahead of the final run-in. The crafty formulas of their deals ensure they have close to no financial obligations should either Meite or Tomori struggle to adapt. Mandzukic, on the other hand, can prove to be the difference-maker in the title race, boasting a plethora of experience. As the second half of the season approaches, one thing is clear: Milan believes in themselves and they are going for it.

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Cagliari 0-2 AC Milan: Three things we learned as Ibrahimovic brace seals important win

Milan restored their three-point margin at the top of the Serie A standings this evening, beating Cagliari by two goals to nil away from home. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the big hero with a brace and despite a red card in the second half, the Rossoneri managed to hold on and secure another clean sheet. 

It didn’t take long for Ibrahimovic to get back on the scoresheet, winning a penalty after just six minutes. Although Franck Kessie is the penalty taker, the Swede felt confident and decided to take it himself. A good decision, as he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way and easily slotted in the first goal.  Continue reading

Cagliari vs. AC Milan: Serie A Round 18 – Team news, stats and prediction

After what has been a very impressive first half of the season, Milan will take on Cagliari away from home in the penultimate game of the winter Scudetto race. Currently three points ahead of city rivals Inter, with head-to-head in their favour, a win would be enough to secure that title. 

Of course, being crowned winter champions matters very little in terms of the actual Scudetto. Having said that, in 88 editions, only one team has failed to finish in the top three when leading the league at the half-way mark. This gives the Rossoneri a 98.6% of qualifying for the Champions League, for which they only need top four.  Continue reading

AC Milan 2-0 Torino: Rossoneri respond to rare loss with dominating performance

Milan managed to bounce back in the best possible way this evening, beating Torino by two goals to nil after the 3-1 loss against Juventus mid-week. A strong message by Stefano Pioli’s men, who certainly have shown that they are stronger than whatever difficulties they may face. 

As a result of the win, the Rossoneri will remain top of the standings for at least one more matchday. Claiming 40 points after 17 games is indeed special and certainly nothing that Milan fans would have imagined at the start of the season. Yet again, the Scudetto dreams don’t seem too far away.  Continue reading

AC Milan vs. Torino: Serie A Round 17 – Team news, stats and prediction

After their 27-game unbeaten run came to end last time out, Milan will be looking to bounce back with a win against Torino on Saturday evening. It’s the first of two back-to-back encounters between the sides, as they will take on each other in the Coppa Italia Round of 16 next week. 

After 304 days, Stefano Pioli’s men lost a game in Serie A, beaten by Juventus with a final scoreline of 1-3. Taking all the absences into consideration – involving six potential starters – many expected the Rossoneri’s incredible run to end and it did. However, Milan were far from outplayed and fought hard until the end.  Continue reading

Three positions Milan could reinforce during the transfer window – the potential targets

After what has been a stellar year for Milan, they will be looking to build on their incredible run in 2021. Just about managing to get through amid all the injuries, the Rossoneri will surely turn to the transfer market next month, adding a few more players to Stefano Pioli’s squad. 

As has been mentioned in Italian media, there are three positions that Milan could reinforce in January, although the priorities between them are clear. Paolo Maldini has revealed that they didn’t spend their entire budget in the summer and thus will have a bit more for this mercato, which certainly is positive.  Continue reading

Serie A’s most intriguing storylines going into 2021

The past year has been unlike any other across the footballing world, forcing clubs to play in empty stadiums and tackling unprecedented challenges. Italian football has not disappointed, regularly delivering excitement and unlikely surprises at every turn.

Once Wednesday’s final games are played, Serie A will take a much-needed break, halting action until the new year. Without further ado, here are three things to look out for in 2021 in Serie A:

1) The Alejandro Gomez saga: 

When reports surfaced that Gian Piero Gasperini and his star man, Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gomez, had a falling out, it shocked the entire calcio world. The two have proven to be a match-made in heaven in Bergamo, firing the side to newfound heights. Just last season, Gli Orobici were painfully close to booking their place into the Champions League final four, but eventually lost a narrow affair against PSG.

Gasperini’s relationship with Gomez was a special one, claiming he would resign if ever the club sold the diminutive playmaker. The veteran tactician got the most out of Gomez, with the Atalanta man establishing himself as one of Italy’s elite creative threats. Fast forward to today, and Gomez is very much on his way out, with reports saying the damage is irreparable.

Milan and Roma among others have queued up for his signature, in hopes of adding an elite player on the cheap. At 32-years-old, Gomez can still play a crucial role in any team and has shown no signs of slowing down. While his inevitable transfer is intriguing in itself, the Atalanta man has claimed he will reveal exactly what went down once he leaves. It will also be interesting to see just how Gian Piero Gasperini’s men cope without him in the lineup.

Atalanta is coming off a vintage 4-1 win over Roma with Gomez out, but sustaining it over an entire season is a completely different story. Beyond one of Serie A’s best players moving on mid-season, this story is far from over.

2) Can Andrea Pirlo turn it around? 

Andrea Pirlo has struggled since assuming the reins in Turin, stumbling out of the gates in Serie A. Juventus has drawn six of their 13 games and most recently saw their unbeaten run snapped in emphatic fashion against Fiorentina.

Pirlo may have led the Bianconeri to an impressive Champions League group stage campaign, but desperately needs to turn it around, as soon as the season restarts. Juventus has dropped points in countless games they should have won, including draws against Crotone and Benevento, and can no longer afford to fall further behind.

The Italian champions sit seven points behind Milan and have an incredibly tough schedule to kickstart the new year. As a two-legged affair with Porto looms, Juventus need to achieve some form of consistency and begin stringing results together. One of the biggest storylines going into the new year will be to see if Pirlo can bounce back from an indifferent start – otherwise, we might just have a new champion heading into next season.

3) Are Milan legit Scudetto contenders? 

Well, we’ve been asking this for the better part of 13 matchdays now and the answer seems to be yes. However, Milan will need to demonstrate its resolve heading into the new year, welcoming Juventus into San Siro on January 6. As we approach the half-way point of the season, Milan can announce themselves as serious contenders, especially with a statement win against Juventus.

Stefano Pioli’s men have played some sensational football in recent months, navigating a tricky schedule diligently, despite a number of injuries – including one to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. As we enter 2021, the Rossoneri will need to confirm their contender status and demonstrate they can handle the pressure that comes with it. If their recent run is anything to go by, Milan will be up for it.

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Sassuolo 1-2 AC Milan: Three things we learned from an important Rossoneri win

After two consecutive draws, Milan bounced back with a win this afternoon to retain their spot at the top of the standings, beating Sassuolo 1-2. Extremely important for Stefano Pioli’s men as despite the several key injuries, they continue to perform on a high level. 

Rafael Leao, who has been criticised in the last few weeks, opened the scoring after just six (yes, six!) seconds and thus set a new record for the fastest goal in Serie A history. Since Zlatan Ibrahimovic is injured, the Rossoneri were assured that the Portuguese youngster can play in the centre-forward role in the meantime. Continue reading

Sassuolo vs. AC Milan: Serie A Round 13 – Team news, stats and prediction

As a result of several key injuries and some bad luck, Milan have only collected two points from the last two games, drawing both 2-2. They had to come back from behind on both occasions, more prone to conceding now after what was an impressive defensive start to the season. 

In other words, the Rossoneri need to improve and find their rhythm again, starting with Sunday’s clash against Sassuolo. The latter have started the season very well and are currently in 6th place with 23 points, five points behind the league leaders. This game could change the look of the standings, meaning it’s very important.  Continue reading

Sampdoria vs. AC Milan: Serie A Round 10 – Team news, stats and prediction

Despite conceding two early goals, Milan managed to get themselves back in the game and eventually beat Celtic by fours goals to two. In other words, they continued their positive run although the lapse of concentration could have cost them so much more, which is something they don’t want to repeat. 

The Rossoneri’s schedule is very tight and with this in mind, claiming all three points is of course the important thing. On the other hand, they don’t want to make Thursday’s events a habit as the team certainly is capable enough to avoid it, which ultimately was proved by the final scoreline.  Continue reading