GdS: Pioli wants a hybrid Milan – how they would line up in a 4-2-3-1 vs. 4-3-3

By Oliver Fisher -

There could be some changes to the way that AC Milan line up next season with Stefano Pioli trying to work out the best system, according to a report.

This morning’s edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport writes that Pioli is studying ‘two different Milans’. A year ago he used a four-man and three-man defence, with the latter coming about after the crisis in January which saw 18 goals conceded in seven games.

Now, he knows that his Milan will be able to play with a 4-2-3-1 and with a 4-3-3 as well given the player that he has at his disposal and the targets that are being pursued.

During his press conference on day one of the preseason yesterday, Pioli said: “There could also be tactical innovations to have greater advantages. A lot will also depend on the characteristics who will arrive. With players of quality and intelligence, new things can be done.”

The paper puts forward two possible line-ups for the Rossoneri ahead of next season, based on the players that are in the squad and who should arrive.

Milan 4-2-3-1: Maignan; Calabria, Thiaw, Tomori, Theo Hernandez; Loftus-Cheek, Reijnders; Chukwueze, Pulisic, Leao; Giroud.

Milan 4-3-3: Maignan; Calabria, Thiaw, Tomori, Theo Hernandez; Loftus-Cheek, Reijnders, Krunic; Pulisic, Giroud, Leao.

Tags AC Milan


  1. Cannot go into next season with Giroud as a starter.
    Love Giroud but we can’t have him at 37 starting for Milan.

  2. Time for change: dry 433 with Loftus as middle man infiltrating when creating danger from both wings. With that 4231 we probably lose to Frosinone with 4-5

  3. Absolute crap putting a player who hasn’t even been signed in the double pivot ahead of Krunic. In the past season, Krunic shveowed great improvement and was able to deputize effectively when either of Bennacer or Tonali was absent.

    So, is Pioli going to field two new comers, one of which have not even arrived, ahead of an old reliable who knows the team, the methods having undertaken various roles in the past?

    People keep under-rating the value of Krunic in the team. It’s disrespectful.

    1. This 433 formation from GdS is completely wrong in the first place. Both RLC and Reijnders are b2b players meaning they should be deployed on either side. Same goes for Pobega. Krunic is currently the only one capable of playing a deep lying playmaker. He did good last season playing deep. But considering Bennacer is out for the first half we will need another.

      1. “Krunic is currently the only one capable of playing a deep lying playmaker.”

        Except he’s really not. He cannot create at all. 90% of his passes are backwards. He is incapable of passing the ball forwards or creating anything. He should be like Gattuso: take the ball away from the opponent and give it to a more creative player asap. Although… Milan are still lacking those creative midfielders but hopefully that will change soon.

        1. I meant him as our last resort considering Bennacer is out and we have only distinctive box to box players on the rooster. I wrote we need another one if we are to play 433.

        2. yea and balo toure should be more like Serginho, seriously ahaha you earned quote of the day award yet again
          comes as no surprise, you are one of the people misjudging the importance of Krunic.. still figuring out what kind of fan you are

          1. “still figuring out what kind of fan you are”

            A passionate one. No need to bang your head against the wall trying to figure it out.

            So, are you saying that Krunic is a world-class playmaker? Because all the evidence suggest he shouldn’t be called a playmaker. Ever. He might do OK defensively but “deep lying PLAYMAKER” he just isn’t. Not a playmaker at all. Playmaker is someone who creates and starts the attacks. Krunic can only pass backwards. I’m not saying he’s crap or shouldn’t be in the team. I’m just saying that calling him a playmaker is waaaaaay off the mark.

        3. Move Theo further up the pitch as DeChamps did with the National team. He always seems to wanna score……I know,I know he is a defender but he is always moving forward. Got to trust Pioli, but let’s not forget we are in the CL ,we will need Krunic.

    2. Even though Krunic has improved a lot he’s still not good enough if Milan want to compete with the big boys. Krunic should be the backup/rotation player – not a starter.

        1. You think he’s on par with the midfielders in Bayern, PSG, ManCity, Liverpool & Real Madrid? Or even Juventus & Inter? Because we need midfielder who are. Krunic simply isn’t. He might do OK defensively but “deep lying PLAYMAKER” he just isn’t. Not a playmaker at all. Playmaker is someone who creates and starts the attacks. Krunic can only pass backwards.

    3. One thing Krunic has that’s ahead of anyone else (in midfield area at least) is his tactical knowledge. That’s what Pioli means when he keeps saying intelligent players. He’s been in Milan long enough to know Pioli’s system inside out. We all know it’ll take times for any new player adapting to a very specific Pioli’s gameplay. .

      Krunic is certainly not the most gifted player, but his tactical knowledge; knowing where, when, and what’s needed from him could make a big difference.

  4. Krunic can not be our starting midfielder. He did good last season as a backup, coming off the bench or starting if there is an injury, but he cannot be a regular starter for a serious team. Milan need to sign Musah ASAP. Then once Bennacer comes back we will have stacked Midfield.

    1. Krunic was not a backup last season. He played 90min many times when both Bennacer and Tonali were fit, in big matches too. He can not be a starter for a serious team? so disgraceful
      We need more than 11 starters if you want to compete on multiple fronts, Krunic is one of them, this season more than ever

      1. Wrong. He was a back-up. He played if Tonali or Bennacer needed a rest. I said he did well last season in that roll, but If he is 1 or 2 on the depth chart we have a problem. Name me one other serious team playing in Europe that Krunic would be starting for… I’ll wait. Or even just Serie A. You think he’s getting into Inter’s lineup? Juventus? Napoli? Not a f$#@ng chance. He’s a useful player to have on the bench. That’s it.

        1. man, you are clueless, with your ‘Wrong.’ in fact Krunic started in EVERY big game last season. Serie A he played 90minutes against Juventus, Lazio, Roma, Inter, you name it. UCL group stage Chelsea starter & 90min, quarter final 180min, semi final 180min. He got rested in games like Cremonese and Udinese which we draw and lost btw. If he wasn’t a starter last season ahah wtf are you talking.

          1. Again, he was 3rd on the depth chart behind Bennacer and Tonali. Yes, we unfortunately had to start him many games because of A) injuries B) heavy fixture list where guys needed rest, and C) Milan was conceding so many goals and our midfield was getting so overrun that Pioli started to use Bennacer as AM and put in Krunic for more defense. The fact that he played so much is why Milan barely finished 4th because of Juventus point deduction. Our midfield depth was terrible. Just because he started doesn’t mean he is starting quality player. He is not. Still waiting to hear what other big team Krunic would start for…

          2. And pointing to the 2 Chelsea games in Champions League where we got utterly embarrassed doesn’t really help your case. Or the 5-2 thrashing to Sassuolo that he started.

          3. Stop changing ur words damn. “sure he was a starter, but not a quality one” so is he a starter or what is it, make up ur mind. Good thing I don’t take you seriously, gosh… I just gave you facts that he played when all 3 were fit, real facts, not like you handling out of emotion, but yea you are probably right: When he started the Napoli game for example, I’m sure Pioli was with his head with the Empoli game few days later so others could rest in favour of Krunic, hahaha, seriously..
            “And pointing to the 2 Chelsea games in Champions League where we got utterly embarrassed doesn’t really help your case. Or the 5-2 thrashing to Sassuolo that he started.” yeaah man that was all Krunic! hahah damn. What about the matches he did not feature: Empoli (draw), Spezia (lost), Bologna (draw), Fiorentina (lost), Lecce (lost), Torino (lost twice), what about that huh. When he was injured we gained 5 points out of 18 only winning from Salernitana.
            “Still waiting to hear what other big team Krunic would start for…” haha you child. But yes, he would be a valuable member of the team in all teams you mentioned. Pick on out yourself if you want an answer to that stupid question. He already plays for a big team in Europe, thats ur answer right there.
            You are probably just a kid, so I won’t blame u to much

          4. Man these fanboys are clueless. They just think everyone in a Milan shirt is great! These are the same fools that CDK should be starting. Krunic starting because our midfield was trash last season doesn’t mean he should be starting or that he is good enough to start. let me explain it to you simply so you can understand because clearly you are not that bright.
            Kessie-Bennacer -Tonali midfield = Scudetto
            Bennacer-Tonali-Krunic midfield = 5th place
            Krunic -Loftus Cheek- Pobega midfield = Serie B

        2. @K and @bb, please check the starting line-up for the Serie A match on April 2, 2023. Napoli 0 vs 4 Milan. Krunic started alongside Tonali with Bennacer further up. Krunic was substituted in the 83rd minutes.

          On April 12, 2023 UCL 1st leg QF match, Milan 1 vs 0 Napoli. Krunic started alongside Tonali and played the full match.

          On April 18, 2023 UCL 2nd leg QF. Napoli 1 vs 1 Milan. Krunic played full game alongside Tonali as double pivot.

          April 23. Serie A. Milan 2 vs 0 Lecce. Krunic played full game with Tonali as midfield tandem.

          April 29. Serie A. Roma 1 vs 1 Milan. Krunic played full game with Tonali as midfield tandem.

          May 6. Serie A. Milan 2 vs 0 Lazio. Krunic played full game with Tonali as double pivot.

          May 20. Serie A. Milan 5 vs 1 Sampdoria. Krunic played full game with Tonali as midfield tandem.

          May 28. Serie A. Juventus 0 vs 1 Milan. Krunic played full game with Tonali as midfield tandem.

          If you go back to Feb 14. UCL. Milan 1 vs 0 Tottenham. Krunic played full game with Tonali as midfield tandem.

          Feb 26. Milan 2 vs 0 Atalanta in Serie A. Krunic played full game with Tonali as midfield tandem.

          Yes, he also played in games which Milan lost; but it’s disrespectful to no acknowledge his contributions. You have to acknowledge the fact that he starts over Pobega means he he is functionally good.

          So, now it is a question of who starts along with him to form a chemistry – even if it’s going to be temporary because of technical qualities.

          1. “@K and @bb, please check the starting line-up for the Serie A match on April 2, 2023. Napoli 0 vs 4 Milan. Krunic started alongside Tonali with Bennacer further up. Krunic was substituted in the 83rd minutes.”

            What does your story have to do with me? What I said is that calling Krunic a playmaker is way off the mark. And yes, if we want to compete with the big boys (Real, Barcelona, ManCity, PSG, – h*ll, even UCL-finalist Inter) we need better midfielders. Can you honestly say Krunic is on par with the midfielders in those teams? Honestly?

    2. Do you guys actually understand the dynamics of football? Do you understand team chemistry? The issue is no longer about whether Krunic can start for another team or not. This is about functionality. The fact that he has improved is a plus for Milan.

      In the scenario Milan finds itself, do you expect two new signings to man the double pivot? Please carefully take into consideration the followings:

      1. The midfield tandem requires chemistry, first between the two players and then, the rest of the team. Presently Milan has Krunic, Loftus-Cheek and Pobega available.

      Chemistry is not built in a month, except the players are of very high intelligence. Even then, there will be errors. There are telepathic connections that are built from months of playing together.

      So you will put Krunic on the bench for RLC and a signing who is yet to arrive, doesn’t come from the same league as RLC and by the time he comes probably doesn’t even speak the same language as RLC.

      Meanwhile, Krunic – and Pobega – are available right now and training with RLC. Between the 3 of them, something has to start developing. Krunic knows the team better than Pobega, so the likelihood that he and RLC will start trying to bond.

      It’s a different thing if the other midfield signing has arrived and already settled in. We don’t know how soon whoever it is will be signed.

      Take into consideration how much Pioli likes to take time to integrate new signings. I would have guaranteed you that had Bennacer been okay, the starting midfield tandem would be him and Krunic, while the new signings gradually integrate and them push Krunic to the bench – depending on how fast jell.

      Maybe now, you guys can understand that Tonali’s sale wasn’t exactly a very wise move, considering that Bennacer was injured.

      1. nah, they dont understand a thing. All they know is krunć is not good enough for Milan.
        Even tho he played for a whole season and did a good, job was even praised by foking experts and ex players and teammates.. Go figure.

        1. Yeah, he did so well that we went from the Scudetto to 5th place if you don’t take away points from Juve. If that is what you are calling a great job…Ok.

      2. @Nino bro none of these guys have any fcking clue about playing actual football. I don’t believe they’ve played in organized competitive football to figure out this shyte ain’t as easy as swapping players. I see 433 getting thrown about like it’s FIFA or FM. If formations were be all end all then everyone would be playing like Barca in a 433. But that’s not reality.
        Formations only give structure on the pitch to a degree and points of references. The interpretation of movements is up to how the coach wants to implement the system. Our 4231 for instance is different from Bayern’s 4231.
        I’ve been saying just like you Krunic is starting in the double pivot this season. He has the intelligence for it and he knows the system. RLC and 🦌 have to battle for the other spot as Benny is injured. And like u said if he wasn’t injured it would be him and krunic starting with RLC and whoever on the bench. Matter of fact, don’t be surprised if we see Krunic and Pobega start this season in the pivots.

      3. Jesus, this guy wants to start Krunic and Pobega. Serie B here we come. The fact that Krunic played so many minutes is why Milan suffered so much this past season. No “quality” midfield depth is what hurt this team last season. Tonali is overrated, Krunic is a backup and Pobega is not good. Talk about chemistry all you want, they just aren’t good enough.

        1. is it possible to justify anything u say or, why you think he’s bad for example? cause all stats & good points being made here seem to be against you

          1. I never said he was bad. I said he is a useful player to come off the bench or when someone needs a rest. But if Krunic is a regular starter than the team is going to suffer (as Milan did last season)because he is not good enough to be a regular starter. He offers nothing going forward. Yes, his wor krate is good, but he is not creative, he is not a good passer or dribbler, he doesn’t score. He is useful to bring in off the bench when the team is protecting a lead, but not much more than that. Do none of you understand that our midfield was the weak point of our team last season? We were getting bossed by even bottom table teams. If Krunic plays as many minutes this season as last season than the team will suffer again.

      4. No, the Tonali sale was the only smart thing they’ve done so far. Our midfield was the weak point of the team last season with Tonali (and your boy Krunic). Now if Milan would’ve actually used that money to strengthen our midfield, so we don’t have to be using Krunic so much, the team would be much better off. But unfortunately it doesn’t look like they are going to do that. They went from talking about Fratessi, SMS and Musah to Loftus Cheeks and Reijnder paired with Krunic. Same Milan going for the cheapest option at every position.

  5. I don’t think we’ll be looking for a deep-lying playmaker. When playing a 4-3-3, I think Pioli will either use a CDM to shield the defense and have the wide midfielders make the plays, or he’ll field an advanced CM in a hybrid 4-2-3-1.
    Almost any mistake by a player in a double pivot has huge consequences, so a pure CDM would allow for players like Adli, CDK, Pobega and other talents, who will make mistakes from time to time, to develop more freely.

  6. I think Olivier Giroud will be a regular starter for AC Milan next season and why not ,,,the man will have his best season for us ,especially with the players that will be alongside him ..We have made some good signings. Giroud even at his age is the best centre forward you could wish for ,,,technically brilliant,physically strong ,and awareness of where to be a the right time is second to none ..Yes he doesn’t have pace ,he doesn’t need it ,he lives inside the 18 yard area ,and in that area his is simply the best in the world …Yes I mean that ..He needs pace around him .He has got that in abundance with the new players we have …Yes we need a back up for Olivier ,but not a replacement..I will tell you all this now ..We will challenge for honours again next season ,Olivier Giroud included…I love this player very much .
    He still has got lots to offer for us ,and his country France .He will ,like I said have a truly great season .
    His had been an incredible bargain signing .
    I said when we first signed him ..yes if you all remember…I said we would / should win the scuddeto with him which we did …We can do it again .
    We have a great manager in poili and a great team .
    Keep positive..

    1. Oh. I think most of us here are feeling blessed that we have a player like Giroud in the squad. However, it is not suitable to have him lead the line for the whole season, as shown during last season, he kinda ran out of gas circa January-February and being doubly overworked, especially after leading France to the Final of WC too. I think Giroud is a mighty fine player, but one that must be used wisely. We have to keep him sharp by resting him enough.

      This is why signing another striker had been a priority, but that can had always been kicked down the road due to the sheer impact of Ibra and Giroud who done tremendeously well thus far. However, it would need to be addressed sooner or later, as of right now, our only alternative if Giroud is unavailable would be Origi and Colombo. Which doesn’t really inspire confidence if you ask me.

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