GdS: ‘The numbers don’t add up’ – the several factors that put Pioli under pressure

By Oliver Fisher -

Stefano Pioli must fix some key issues with his AC Milan team if they are to win the Europa League, and that might well be what is needed for him to keep his job.

This morning’s edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport (seen below) recalls that in Sunday’s draw against Atalanta there was a summary of the entire Milan season inside 90 minutes. The initial illusion and then the regrets.

Three minutes were enough for Rafael Leao to score a beautiful goal to make it 1-0, and in the first three games of the season Milan were dominant against Bologna, Torino and Roma: nine points, eight goals scored and two conceded.

Atalanta cooled the enthusiasm before the break. Even during the season, the alarm went off early: after the Scudetto dreams at the end of the summer, the 5-1 derby defeat against Inter was a crash back down to earth.

The dropped points

Against Atalanta, Milan tried to move forward again but without success. Leao stood out but without finding another goal to create a streak. In the league, as in Europe, Pioli had attempted to relaunch the team’s ambitions which, however, then found a lack of consistency and conviction.

The Scudetto journey does not allow for missteps while Milan have done so several times: at home against Udinese, in Lecce, Bergamo, Salerno, Monza. Inter were able to keep the pace and escaped with a 13-point advantage which could become 16 tonight.

After 26 rounds of Serie A Milan have not been this far from the Nerazzurri when they were top of the table since 2007-08, when the gap was 18. This time, it must be said that the merits for Simone Inzaghi probably outweigh the Rossoneri’s demerits.

Under-utilised assets

In the match against Atalanta, Milan also saw the situation of the attack reflected: Leao can reach great speed, while Pioli was unable to draw the same push from Samuel Chukwueze and Noah Okafor.

Chukwueze was a star in Spain (13 goals in the last season), but Milan were unable to get the most out of him. The same for Okafor, who came on with two minutes to go in the last game but without impacting it at all. In Salzburg 22-23 he scored 10 times, including three in the Champions League.

Pioli has been able to mould many young Rossoneri players – from Kalulu to Tonali, from Theo to Leao – but Okafor still has an indefinite form. The physical problems have affected his performance, but it is not necessarily an alibi.

Injuries and the defence

In all, Milan have had 35 injuries during the 2023-24 season so far, of which 24 were muscular: responsibility that weighs on the shoulders of the staff.

Solidity was once also a trademark, especially in the Scudetto season. This time Pioli’s Milan are fragile with eight goals conceded in the last three games. The difference in strength with Inter is evident: 32 goals conceded by the Rossoneri in the league, twenty more than the Nerazzurri.

Away from San Siro, in terms of goals conceded, Milan are near the relegation zone with only Sassuolo, Cagliari and Frosinone having let in more on the road. Including cups, they have conceded 24 goals in their last 11 away matches.

Speaking of defence, Pioli must protect the Champions League spot which today still seems well fortified given that Atalanta remained seven points away with the draw at the weekend.

It is in Europe that Milan must chase: after having gone off track already in the Champions League groups (thanks to the second-worst attack in the group stage), they are aiming for the Europa League final and to put themselves ahead of Liverpool and Bayer Leverkusen.

It would be a good way to console the souls and the accounts. A year ago, getting to the semi-final of the Champions League guaranteed €66.5m more, and now Pioli might have to go all the way to ensure he sees next season.


Tags AC Milan Stefano Pioli

1 Comment

  1. Pioli and his training methods or whatever the reason was gets most of the defense injured and then he stabilised the team with “patch up work” and we sre supposed to be grateful and sing his praise? At least some fans think so.

    I don’t. The whole thing was unnecessary and is still unresolved. When more games come our way we will have a full infirmary again..

    Pioli did his share and we got a title out of it and stability now it’s time to bring someone else to add their share to the rebuilding of Milan. We still have ways to go and I don’t see us improving anymore with the hage (that’s Japanese for bald but also can be used for fool)

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