AC Milan will take to the field against Bologna tomorrow night with an attacking line-up, with the same trio that was used in most preseason games leading the line.
According to this morning’s edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport (seen below), Pioli is relying on the ‘Pu-Gi-Le’ trio, which is of course the new trident made up of Pulisic, Giroud and Leao.
Samuel Chukwueze will start on the bench ready to enter the game. In the meantime, the right side will be the territory of Pulisic, the fifth of the eight signings in the summer transfer window.
Pioli had the opportunity to see him in action in the friendlies in the USA, so much so that he earned his starting spot. He knows how to hurt his opponents even though in the last Premier League season he scored just one goal in 24 appearances,.
In a team based around attacking, aggressive football as the new Milan will be, he can make up for it. In previous seasons before 2022-23 he scored 11, 6 and 8 goals, adding another 10 assists in the first year, 4 and 6 in the following two.
With him first and then with the signing of Chukwueze, the club restored balance to a team that previously leaned clearly to the left, on Leao’s side. They added quality on the right, the lane that Diaz, Messias and Saelemaekers shared last season.
Giroud remains the certainty of the Rossoneri attack. He will turn 37 at the end of September and he wants to fight to break new records, given that last year he was the oldest player to have scored at least 10 goals in the five major European leagues.
Time seemed to stand still for him as he finished the last Serie A with 13 goals, more than he scored in 2016-17 (12), with Arsenal. At 36 years and 200 days, with his goal against Napoli in the quarter-finals of the last edition, he was the second-oldest French player to score in the Champions League.
There is another goal within reach. Olivier has risen to 323 goals scored for club and country, so now he wants 350. He wants to do so in the red and black, which is why in recent weeks he has declined interest from Saudi Arabia.
His contract with Milan expires next June, but during the season it could be extended if he keeps repaying the faith of the management with goals.
Leao will show up wearing the No.10 shirt and he will then have unprecedented tasks on the pitch. He too is looking for new records: in 2022-23 he scored 15 times in Serie A, his current personal best, and once in the Champions League.
By being more clinical, and correcting some virtuosity in front of goal, the next step of 20 goals can be reached. Milan have not had a 20-goal scorer for 13 years, as the last to reach those heights was Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2011-12.
Rafa’s contract, signed in the spring, a series of progressive salary increases are envisaged. Obviously there are bonuses too, more and less lucrative, linked to personal performance and this is where the goal and assist count comes into play.