GdS: ‘Pioli relaunches Plan B’ – Milan boss opts for selective rotation vs. Empoli

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli is expected to make a number of changes to the starting line-up in order to rotate ahead of the second leg in Prague.

As this morning’s edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport (seen below), Luka Jovic and Noah Okafor are expected to get a chance from minute one against Empoli at San Siro this afternoon.

The duo have been good at seizing their moments off the bench, but less so when asked to keep the pace high for the entire 90 minutes. Nonetheless, they will take the place of Olivier Giroud (rested) and Rafael Leao (suspended).

Jovic has scored four of his five goals in the league as a substitute but it is different when he has to be the starting centre-forward, essentially replicating Giroud. In the five Serie A games played since the start, he has scored once which is as many goals as he has red cards.

Okafor has similar numbers: in the three times he has been chosen as a starter in the league he has scored only one goal. For the other four goals (out of the five total) he took advantage of the energy drop of the opponents and came on to score.

The last time he gave Milan three points away against Lazio, before that he had completed the Rossoneri’s comeback against Udinese. In terms of scoring average Jovic is at the top of the table with a goal every 112 minutes on the pitch, Okafor second at a goal every 122 minutes.

Jovic and Okafor are precious resources, alternatives that enrich Pioli’s bench which has been considered too poor on the bench. On the other hand, the limits emerge: they do not offer the same guarantees as the starters, and Pioli can only afford a partial rotation.

It also applies on a personal level: between December and February (two months, five goals) Jovic would have deserved to have his contract renewed. The downside is the other months. From tonight and then in the next matches the club’s orientation will become clearer.

Milan can decide independently to extend the agreement expiring in June until the summer of 2025. Today the chances of that happening are less than 50%, as per the paper.

Okafor also has two faces: sometimes inconclusive, sometimes decisive. Thus, the future offers two paths: continue to be deputy Leao or swerve and demonstrate that you can be part of the starting formation.

Today’s match against Empoli will inevitably end up on one side of the scale. In any case, Pioli proves to be courageous: the last time he dared so much was in Monza, with his team beaten 4-2.


Tags AC Milan Milan Empoli


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