GdS: Pioli plotting midfield changes vs. Dortmund – the dilemma he faces

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli is plotting some changes to the midfield department for Wednesday night’s trip to face Borussia Dortmund, a report claims.

As La Gazzetta dello Sport (seen below) report this morning, Pioli will have to do without Ruben Loftus-Cheek and the physicality and experience he brings in the Champions League after he came off during the win over Lazio with groin discomfort.

What will Milan miss without the Englishman? Out of all the midfielders it is the former Chelsea player is the one who has played the most UCL matches (18), but they will also be without his surging runs into the area and above all the muscle he provides.

The options are few, because Loftus-Cheek’s knockout adds to those of Rade Krunic and Ismael Bennacer, so Pioli will have to choose between Yacine Adli, Yunus Musah, Tijjani Reijnders and Tommaso Pobega, with three on the pitch and one on the bench.

We start from the presumption that Adli – a starter against Cagliari and Lazio – will have to wait for his first Champions League start. Due to his characteristics, the Frenchman is the least suited to the intensity of a match like the one against Dortmund could and should have.

It remains to be seen who Pioli will hand over the regista role to. With Musah, Milan would arrive at Signal Iduna Park with a player as similar as possible to Krunic, while Davide Calabria’s inverted position as an added midfielder could help.

If Reijnders were to move to the centre, ball management would be safe, but Milan would lose the Dutchman’s movements and his attacking creativity, which are very precious according to Pioli himself.

In short, everything still remains open, although one thing is certain: one of Musah or Reijnders will play in front of the defence for the first time since the start of the season.

Pobega is the certainty, and he would also allow Pioli to revert to the old 4-2-3-1, with Reijnders as an atypical attacking midfielder and the other two midfielders covering him further back.

In terms of the other selection decisions, the front three of Rafael Leao, Olivier Giroud and Christian Pulisic will be fielded again, and Malick Thiaw will get the nod over Simon Kjaer at the back.

Tags AC Milan Dortmund Milan


  1. I’m not convinced about this 433. They seem shaky to me. In 4231 Theo and Leao were free to roam and combine now I see Theo struggle in this inverted role. Leao however picked up where he left – 7 games, 3 goals, 4 assists. Quite the stats.

    Probably only my wishful thinking but I’d love to see 4231 with Musah-RLC in the pivot and Pulisic-Reijnders-Leao as front three. Chuk-Adli-Okafor as alternative.

    1. 4-3-3 is a much better fit for the midfielders we have available. Reijnders & RLC were bought specifically because of this formation change and it shows. They are perfect box-to-box players as they need a certain freedom to roam that the 4-3-3 gives them. In a 4-2-3-1 they would both be a waste and we’d be better off with Adli and Musa honestly. The team is much more balanced in 4-3-3 and when the team play more games together they will be even better

      1. No 4-2-3-1 is the best we used it to even destroy teams with 4-3-3 we don’t press with three midfield we press with attacking midfield and both wingers this how we will dominate and score goals

        1. they have kept the same press formation 4-2-4..depending on the matchup but typically rlc playing the free 8/10…unless its a man to man press.

    2. To be honest, Pioli doesn’t have to give the full backs an inverted role in a 433 formation. They could play like they played in a 4231

      1. So much this. I do not understand the static mindset.

        If you have Adli, Musah and Reijnders, you can easily shift to a 4-2-3-1.

        These are the things I don’t get about Pioli. The players are smart. They can understand how to shift their formation given the proper signal.

    3. What’s not convincing about 6-0-1 and 18 points? Inverting the FBs has nothing to do with the formation. You can invert FBs with a 4-2-3-1 as well. It’s just a tactical choice. All Pioli has to do is stop it. Plus, if you look closely, you will see that we’re actually drifting between 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 during matches. This was clear during the Lazio game.

  2. I am convinced we can get a result against dortmund .
    I am not saying it will be easy …I still trust in the format of Giroud ..pulisic …leao ….
    Never write off our team , or Olivier Giroud..
    We are a better team when Giroud starts …
    We can definitely win the scuddeto this season ..
    I honestly believe that …

  3. 4231.
    Musah (DM ball winning)-Reijnder (DM playmaker)
    Pobega and Adli are still not ready for CL starter. They should come from the bench.

      1. Yeah I hope we ge to see Musah-Adli-Reijnders against Dortmund as well. Adli will be needed to controll possession and give the team time to breath from time to time. Pobega cant do that and Reijnders is needed further up the pitch with RLC gone.

        Pobega can come on in the last 15-20 minutes when one of the midfielders have tired. Reijnders could probably use a little break. Hes played alot.

    1. You guys really under rate krunic ,that guy is the most hard working player in the milan line up ,nobody understands y pioli prefers krunic ,krunic helps the play but nobody notice and appreciate it

  4. I’m not sure but I think we might loose bennacer maybe to Saudi Arabia in January . Krunic to go to Lyon. Then bring orsolini or Ricci . This will help us as far as the CL is conserned.

    1. 4-3-3 that has won us 6 out of 7 league matches and u want him to change it why are some fans like this?we have more box to box midfielders in d team and no holding midfielder aside just krunic who is even a make who will the two pivots be?

  5. 4-2-3-1 is our traditional best formation is very useful far better than the 4-3-3 in 4-3-3 our attacking threat are not dangerous but using the 4-2-3-1 will make our both wingers dangerous and attacking midfield dangerous because our defensive midfield stops their opponents from attack so our team should go with the 4-2-3-1 having leao musah/rejnder chukwueze we can score more than two goals to defeat Dortmund

    1. Lol, “traditional best formation”. There is no such thing. For 10 years we played with a 4-3-1-2 and for 15 years before that we played with a 4-4-2. For most of the banter era we played with a 4-3-3. If anything, 4-2-3-1 is the formation we’ve used the least and is exclusive to Pioli’s time.

    2. Yes I agree with what you have said about the 4-2-3-1 system …this system I believe would be the best against would certainly benefit Olivier Giroud as this is when we crosses would be delivered..
      That said I believe the formation of 4-3- 3 is better in the sera A for us at the moment ..sometimes of course it can be changed depending upon whom we are playing .

  6. Musah can replace RLC then Adli & Rejinders should start, I don’t see why Pioli can’t put trust on Adli after his first 2 games and if he’s not up it, then change him but to continue to treat the boy with lack of confidence as he did before the season even started telling him he won’t get game time is absurd.
    The only player I wish to see on the bench coming in second half when the opponent defenders are tired is Giroud! That guy is totally useless at the moment & at his age should not be our starting striker! He run less, defends less, scores less without penalties, pressure defenders less, can’t even score with his head from corners which was one of his strengths when he was younger. I hope Pioli will see that and do the right thing because we can not continue living on his past glory

    1. i think the lineups could be adjusted depending on the probability of the game speed. If its up and down like Lazio, don’t start giroud or loftus cheek. They are slow to react in the press. If the other team is going to sit back though, Giroud can still find ways to create goals.

      This one will be up and down…

  7. 4-2-3-1 formation is conservative and gives stability, but 4-3-3 affords us more attacking patterns, unlike when we were always having difficulty breaking down low block defenses. With time, our lads will gel, and get to see the potency in the 4-3-3. I believe we are getting a positive result against Dortmund.

  8. on the positive, Musah is good to go after taking that that punch from Nunez. they would have 3 midfielders available for the whole match…

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