The praise that seemed to be forthcoming before the international break for AC Milan’s summer business now seems to have turned to criticism.
La Gazzetta dello Sport (seen below) recalls that after 43 minutes of the first half of last night’s game against Juventus, Milan only remotely resembled their ‘original version’ as six of the 10 players on the pitch were substitutes for the starters.
Antonio Mirante, Pierre Kalulu, Alessandro Florenzi, Yunus Musah and Yacine Adli all started the season as reserve options, and they found themselves playing the majority of one of the biggest games of the season.
Admittedly a lot was conditioned by Malick Thiaw’s red card in the 40th minute, but Milan remained on top for large parts of the game and when they needed a bit of inspiration from substitutions, it never came.
Luka Jovic only extended his series of matches without impact, Luka Romero came on for Tijjani Reijnders but had little time or space available to try and change things, while Noah Okafor remained on the bench.
Milan B, the one with the luxury reserves, did not get going this time. It’s true that Pioli’s choices were limited by a long series of injuries, but no surprise change came from the bench, where Chaka Traore sat unused for 90 minutes too.
On nights like this the Milan fans expected Rafael Leao to light up, or they trusted in a goal from Giroud. Rafa actually tried, without his ideas being picked up. Olivier was the most dangerous, but energy management led Pioli to recall him to the bench.
In conclusion, Leao hasn’t scored for two months, Giroud has been without goals for almost two months and the team were left lacking in the final third.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s size and experience would have been useful in the middle because Musah only showed physical strength and little resourcefulness. Adli played better than Krunic, to whom he gave up his place, who was the unfortunate accomplice of Juventus’ winning goal.
Milan ended the game with Kalulu, Kjaer, Tomori and Florenzi as the back four, and with Romero, Jovic and Leao as the attacking trio. The turnover, which on other occasions had rewarded Pioli, this time does not help him.