MN: Milan’s probable XI to face Empoli – six changes from mid-week win

By Isak Möller -

AC Milan will be up against Empoli at San Siro tomorrow and Stefano Pioli has decided to make six changes to the starting eleven, a report claims. Some due to suspensions, others for tactical reasons. 

Rafael Leao and Alessandro Florenzi will miss tomorrow’s clash due to suspension, so some changes were always expected. However, few thought that Pioli would make six changes to the eleven, though you could also argue that the voluntary changes are justified.

According to MilanNews, Davide Calabria will replace Florenzi at the back while Malick Thiaw and Fikayo Tomori will team up in the centre. The first-choice centre-back pairing is back, in other words, having not played from start together since November.

Up front, Noah Okafor will replace Leao and Luka Jovic will also get the chance from start, giving Olivier Giroud some rest. Christian Pulisic will keep his spot on the right, though, just like Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the No.10 role.

Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Calabria, Thiaw, Tomori, Hernandez; Bennacer, Reijnders; Pulisic, Loftus-Cheek, Okafor; Jovic.

The game is scheduled for 15:00 CET and with a win, Milan would leapfrog Juventus in the standings. The Bianconeri will face Atalanta at 18:00 tomorrow, so the pressure would be on them in case of a win for the Rossoneri.

Tags AC Milan Empoli Stefano Pioli


  1. Leao is suspended, Giroud needs rest, RLC could use a rest.
    The two players that are supposed to replace Leao & Giroud are Okafor & Jovic. One of them, Okafor, functions better as a 2nd striker, while Jovic functions better as a striker in 2 men front.
    Perfect opportunity to play 4312 with Bennacer flanked by Reijnders & Musah in the midfield, with Pulisic playing behind Okafor & Jovic.
    But Pioli knows only 1 script
    Zero ability to create a strategy based on the characteristics of the players at his disposal. Continue trying to make players adjust to the only system he knows.
    Someone correct me if I’m wrong but I believe that all Okafor goals came while he was playing as a striker, not a winger, while he looked poor every time he played wide.

    1. I watched Inter-Bologna. Both teams played great, organaized and sharp, energetic football. Some will say that Inter has better players, but then what about Bologna ? They are doing as good as us with much weaker players. I say its the coach that makes the difference. For this team to go forward they need a good coach that can use the full potential of the players.

      1. Absolutely the coach makes the difference.
        The pro Pioli crowd along with that old fool Sacchi, like to use excuses like too much turnover is the reason Milan doesn’t look like a team.
        Bologna vs Atalanta last week, in their starting lineup had 7 new players, 2 of the 5 subs were also new players. Not to mention that during the summer they lost some of their best players like Dominguez ( the DM that most of us wanted Milan to sign), Schouten( starring midfielder), Cambiaso( starts for Juventus this season), Musah Burrow( starting forward) and their starring striker Arnautovic, who the previous management wanted to sign to compete with Giroud.
        With all that change they still look as a team offensively and defensively, and they are about to have the best finish since the 60’s.
        While we are constantly reading excuses.
        Bologna vs Inter under Motta, 2 wins for inter, 2 for Bologna,1 draw.
        Same time period Milan vs Inter under Pioli, 0 wins for Milan, 0 draws, 5 wins for inter. 1 goal scored for Milan.
        Bologna won both games vs Atalanta, while Milan didn’t win any of the 3 games vs them this season.
        I guess Bologna has better players than Milan. The coach isn’t the issue.

        1. I agree. Sadly the commentator said that Juventus are going after Motta. He didn’t even mentioned Milan. I guess will be stuck with Pioli and his “tactics” next season as well.

        2. Pro-Pioli = Pro-Milan.

          You can’t separate out the two.

          There’s constructive criticism and then there’s just being an opposition fan.

      2. Maybe stick to the Inter and Bologna games…

        For Milan to go forward it needs the fans to support the team and stop fawning over our rivals.

        How do you expect the players to show loyalty, focus and determination if you can’t?

    2. this is okafors positional stats for him which shows he has played left wing the most even if only 1 match more.

      Left Winger 73 19 7
      Centre-Forward 72 26 15
      Right Winger 39 10 7

      Its natural he has better stats as a forward but it also proves that he can play in the other position so not sure what you are getting at there.

      1. Don’t know what’s confusing for you.
        I said he functions better as a striker, the numbers you posted prove that.
        Alao, A winger is a forward.
        Those numbers are from a weak Austrian league while playing for the by far the best team in that league.
        How does he look playing on the wing compared to inside the box for Milan in serie A is important, not the Austrian league.

        1. To be fair i misread part of your comment as i read it as you said he didnt function at left wing hence my reply.
          sure a winger can winger be described as such and per definition it is but not directly the same though as the wingers generally also tracks back a lot more and a centre forward is playing more centrally so of course that also affects the stats there as well. I should hvae said cf or second striker instead,
          His positional stats this season for us though isnt different in outcome an the player even said himself recently that his preferred position is left wing.

          Left Winger 9 2 –
          Centre-Forward 9 2 –
          Right Winger 1 1 –

          Obviously those stats doesn’t tell everything but if the player is the most comfortable playing at the left wing i see no reason to question if he function there the best as he seems to think so himself. Anyways as i said i misread part of your comment..

    3. @Z. I agree with you 100%. It would make more sense to play 4312 with the players we have available for the reasons you mentioned.

      Pioli is a stubborn coach and will keep doing the same thing over and over again even when it’s clearly not working. Sigh!

      This season cannot end fast enough for me. Bologna loss today against inter but it was clear to see that if they had players Leao, Pulisic and Theo they could have easily caused another upset.

      Motta is a coach Milan should be considering seriously because he is doing big things with limited resources.

  2. I wonder why the bought Okafor when they knows the formation will not be changed to suit him. Milan is using flanges only because of Leao.

    1. Even now, I feel Adli will do better in the role Luftos Cheeks is playing. He can dish out a lot of final passes by playing behind the strikers.

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