CorSport: Pioli relaunches Kalulu at centre-back in the derby – a chance to be seized

By Oliver Fisher -

There are always many narratives and sub-plots heading into the derby, one of which includes the change that AC Milan will have to make at centre-back.

This morning’s edition of Corriere dello Sport (via PianetaMilan) writes that Pierre Kalulu will be asked to step up and partner Malick Thiaw after Fikayo Tomori was sent off during the 2-1 win against Roma last Friday night.

Kalulu was not called up by Didier Deschamps for the senior France squad and thus remained at Milanello to prepare for the game after the break, which certainly helps in Stefano Pioli’s eyes.

It will be his first start for four months, as per the paper, and it is certainly a high-stakes game between the two sides who have each won their first three games of the season.

The match is delicate for another reason too, namely the fact that the Nerazzurri have been on top in the derby in 2023 having won all four games across three competitions.

In the last four games, Milan have sustained four defeats and seven goals conceded at the hands of their city rivals. In the derby on 5 February this year, Pioli tried the three-man defence with Kalulu present, but it was a 1-0 defeat.

Kalulu hopes that the biggest game of all in Serie A can be his sliding doors moment to relaunch. From the end of February to today – when Pioli deployed him from the start – Milan have won only once (2-0 over Lecce at San Siro).

The Frenchman was crucial during the Scudetto win in 2021-22 alongside Fikayo Tomori, but now he will have to quickly find some chemistry with Malick Thiaw. A chance has presented itself, he must seize it.

Tags AC Milan Pierre Kalulu
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