AC Milan go into Sunday’s game against Juventus needing to make alterations by virtue of the list of unavailable players, as per a report.
La Gazzetta dello Sport (seen below) writes that Milan risk being ‘out of their comfort zone’ on Sunday because of the fact that three of their usual starters are likely to be unavailable for the game.
What is the big advantage in build-up for Milan? Mike Maignan, a playmaker disguised as a goalkeeper. Who is the wildcard, the player that other teams don’t have? Theo Hernandez, a full-back with scary acceleration. Who is the balancer? Rade Krunic.
Maignan and Theo won’t be there against Juve and Krunic isn’t back at 100% either, as he hasn’t trained fully with the team yet. Marco Sportiello will not be there available to a calf injury, so now Stefano Pioli must react.
Goalkeeper: On Sunday night, Antonio Mirante at 40 years old will be the starter. His last start in Serie A was on 18 April 2021, two and a half years ago, and in the last friendly match against PSV Eindhoven on 30 December 2022 he conceded three goals.
Pioli thought about launching him as a starter in place of Ciprian Tatarusanu at some point last season but he decided not to. However, Mirante has over 350 games in Serie A and Milan haven’t conceded as many chances to their opponents lately.
The change will be greater than you think though, not limited to the difference in level between Maignan and Mirante because the goalkeeper is also fundamental in build-up for the Rossoneri.
Maignan is calm under pressure when passing short and can also send long balls with the accuracy of a deep-lying playmaker. When he plays, the central defenders open up and the opposing defences cannot be too aggressive, because ‘Magic Mike’ can hurt them.
It is therefore logical that for Pioli it is better to lose Maignan against Juve rather than against a hyper-aggressive team like Atalanta, but a lot depends on Max Allegri’s side and how aggressive they are, with set pieces key too.
Side note: Milan’s second goalkeeper will be Lapo Nava who 19 years old. So far he is known above all for returning on the metro with his kit bag after Milan-Roma in January.
Left-back: The second big difference is on the left, where Alessandro Florenzi will play. Milan will inevitably miss Theo and the responsibility for him lies solely with him: five yellow cards in seven games, some definitely avoidable.
Florenzi started the season well but he is a very different player, who has never had Hernandez’s acceleration and certainly cannot have it at 32 years old. Leao will be missing his usual partner in crime and Milan, against a defence often deep like Juve’s, will not be able to count on the improvisations of Theo.
Florenzi, however, is very comfortable in the role of ‘full-back-half forward’ designed by Pioli. He has played in the middle of the field for years and can read the game well there, so he will have a hand in build-up.
Midfield: Pioli will decide between today and tomorrow who to play at the base of the midfield three out of Yacine Adli or Rade Krunic, but Adli is the favourite at the moment.
He is in better shape and the Milan fans are loving him more and more. Yesterday there was a video on social media in which Adli smiles and sings the songs of the Curva with the intonation of a pianist.
Like with Mirante, the feeling is that Adli will benefit more against a side that sit deep giving him the time and space to pass and dictate the tempo of the game. A lot, therefore, depends on the Bianconeri’s approach.