MN: Why Pioli is likely to pick Kjaer over Kalulu for Supercoppa against Inter

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has one major selection doubt ahead of tomorrow night’s Supercoppa Italiana game against Inter, and it involves the defensive department.

According to MilanNews, the predicted formation for Milan against their city rivals features on real battle, which is whether Simon Kjaer or Pierre Kalulu will accompany Fikayo Tomori in central defence.

Pioli will solve the doubts in the coming hours, evaluating both the physical condition of the two players in question and of course the tactical impact that it would have to choose the Dane or the Frenchman.

The Kalulu-Tomori pairing is still the first choice for Pioli as they have earned the right to be given they managed 8 clean sheets in the last 10 league games en route to the Scudetto. This season however, thanks to Maignan’s injuries and the crisis at right-back, the defence has been a bit more disjointed.

With Kjaer on the pitch, the Rossoneri have conceded just one goal this season against Sampdoria, when Milan were down to 10 men. Then the Dane has been struggling to get back to 100% after sustaining a problem at the World Cup, but now he is back and ready to contribute.

There are tactical reasons that Pioli might go with Kjaer. For one, he is a classic defender, who plays man to man, is very strong on crosses and set pieces, which has been a weak point in the Rossoneri’s defence in recent weeks. In addition to that, Kjaer’s distribution and balls out to the wings could exploit the space behind Inter’s 3-5-2.

In terms of the psychological aspect, Kjaer has experience, leadership and charisma which are nothing short of fundamental in this type of match. The battle is on, but if Kjaer were to confirm that he feels ready to play from the start, he is likely to start.

Tags AC Milan Milan Inter Simon Kjaer


  1. Because we need a taller CB in the defense. The tallest player in our defense is Theo, who is a full-back.
    Also because Kjaer might be the best passer on the team even though he is a CB.
    I think Milan inability to sign a proper CB to play next to Tomori has stunt Kalulu’s growth as a full back. He should play as a CB only in emergency situations like last season when both Kjaer and Romagnoli got injured, but he is a full back and probably the only one that can send a cross on the run.
    Love Davide, and he is good for Serie A, but if Milan wants to compete with the best of Europe now and in the future, they need Kalulu to be the full back.
    New starting CB is a must.
    Just like a starting RW, starting n10 and starting striker ( maybe CDK can be that)

    1. I agree with you, but they’re not going to come at once, since game-ready improvements in all of those positions will probably cost 150m and there’s no way we’re spending that in one summer. I think ST and RW would be the priority, as with the former we only have two grandpa’s of which one will only be fit for the last month of his career and with the latter we have two Serie B players. We can probably get by on what we have at no. 10 and CB for one more season. Of course there can be a surprise, like Aouar on a free…

    2. The one thing I was afraid when we got the Scudetto last season is that the remarkable defensive duo Pierre & Fik would only be a one timer kind of thing. And as hard as we want to acknowledge, that’s happening now.

      Knowing Maldini was looking for Botman (after that defensive duo miracle) should tell us something. Most of the times (if not everytime) the one who won Scudetto had the best defetnce in league, not the best offence.

      And looking on our defence this season (at least so far), surely it’s not a Scudetto material.

  2. @ Z You’re right there’s no way a defence with Tomori and Kalulu at CB could win the title or go 8/10 games with clean sheet.

    Why focus on what actually happened when we can play fantasy football and imagine some shiny new player?

    Milan have struggled a little this season but we are still second on around the same number of points as last. Over the course of a game Tomori and Kalulu are crucial because they allow us to play a higher line.

    Whilst I’m not going to start randomly laying into players as I play fantasy football, one criticism I would make of Tătărușanu is that he probably doesn’t command his area as well as Maignan which might explain some of it struggles this season in defence.

    However if you look at Pioli’s time at Milan he’s always had a stronger second half of the season so could be that we’re just getting going.

    1. You like to live in the past, i see. That was a stretch of the season when Milan was mostly playing tomato cans teams when they went 8 out of 10 games without conceding a goal.
      You also fail to mention that there was a certain Franck Kessie playing in front of Kalulu Tomori who provided extra protection for the defense.
      He isn’t there anymore, and Kalulu and Tomori have been figured out by other teams.
      Most of us, even after the season was over wanted another CB to play next to Tomori, even your boy Maldini wanted to spend 30 mil on Botman to play as a CB.
      Why would he do that if he thought, like you, that Kalulu Tomori is the way to go?
      And yeah it’s Tatarusanu’s fault that Kalulu and Tomori are getting beat ln their individual match ups on the field.

  3. @ Z I’m not going back to the 1940s, I’m talking about a few months ago, and I’m using what happened a few months ago to inform my views now.

    Plus you forget that Kessie didn’t feature that much in the second half of the season (and was more useful coming in at a AM position).

    The big difference to last season?

    A combination of injuries, luck (cost us against Napoli especially) and probably a slight but significant drop in form.

    The difference with me is I do not view everything in football through the lens of the transfer market. The media and most fans cannot for one moment focus on the team they are supposed to be following and are constantly thinking about who can be signed here and there.

    The transfer market is not football. It is complementary to it. Sure if a particular player can improve our position and we can afford them great, but it is not the solution to every single problem.

    Getting the players who actually play for the club to perform, and maintain that performance over a season is the more important part.

    1. What are you talking about?
      If a club doesn’t produce any players thru their academy that can get to the senior team, then how do you expect to build the squad if it’s not thru transfers.
      Also, if you are going to make statements, make sure they are factual .
      How was Kessie not used a lot last season? He was used as a n 10 in only a few games. In the last 4 or 5 games of the season, Milan played with 3 defensive midfielders, Kessie, Tonali, and Krunic, so that’s extra protection for Kalulu and Tomori.
      Just because Kessie left doesn’t mean you have to negate his importance to the title win.
      Get our current players to perform and maintain their performance?
      Pioli is not a magician to turn below average players into superstars. Most of the players we have in our squad have a limited quality. There is a reason why they are so cheap
      You talk about injuries. Same players that were mostly injured last season are Injured again this season.
      Zlatan, Rebic, Florenzi, Maignan Krunic all missed a lot of time last season as well.

  4. Have we even conceded a goal with kjaer on the field this season. Given he hasn’t played a lot maybe it’s not the best marker of how good he is. But it says something. And I agree he is a mich better passer than both tomori and Kalulu. Milan struggle buildning from the back because we oir CB are not skilled enough to find ways through thw midfield. Mostle they end up doing a long ball for Giroud who seldom has anyone around him to head the ball towards. Most of the time when we build a good attack from the back Bennacer has to vome down and pick the ball up leaving the mid field emptier because on of our midfielders are in the back line instead. So I definately think a better CB would be beneficial.

  5. Aside of Kjaer’s aerial ability, the one thing that’s dearly missed in this Milan’s defence is someone who can command and control the defensive structure. Loosing Maignan (who’s a commanding GK) is not helping either. Tata is a decent backup, but in term of commanding the defence line? Almost zero (and I’m being generous here).

    Loosing a player who can filter out attacking position and backing up defensive movement like Kessie, where we didn’t find the suitable replacement, is also the other thing makes our defence falling apart this season.

    And been saying this since giornata 1. Many heavily offended when I said this. But if you’ve been following football for many and many years, sometimes it’s better to take the hard truth even if we’re talking about our fave team.

  6. @ Z By the past you mean a few months ago?

    And this future you live in, just how real is that?

    Playing around on the transfer market (particularly when the club has said we’re not signing anyone) is just fantasy football.

    I’m actually living in the present based on the current team but informed by the very recent past.

    The very recent past has shown that Tomori and Kalulu are an essential part of our high line. Plus we have a RB who is also our captain and essential part of our attack.

    @ Ibrahim ba It’s not some “hard truth” but fantasy.

    Does Kessie play for Milan?

    The “hard truth” is No.

    The fantasy is “let’s sign some new player that can replace him”.

    The reality is this is the team – your fav team. The team and the players are inseparable. If you support the team you support the players. Kessie is not part of the team so I don’t support him any more as he plays for a different team. I support the players who actually play for the team.

    Sure they have limitations as all players do. The challenge for Pioli is to work with those limitations.

    1. As I said since giornata 1, it’s not Kessie that’s the problem here. I really don’t give a s**t on him since he left Milan. The vital thing is the ROLE not the PLAYER. Already said this, but I’ll say it all over again, if we can’t find the replacement, then we have to adapt or change.

      The strategy & system Pioli utilizes is exactly the same as last season, when that K player still around. What do you expect in using the same system, but without that vital piece of puzzle? We literally play the same team (minus that K) this season. The result is we conceded 20 goals in the league, same numbers as Lecce & Torino. Yes, it’s not the only variable, but it surely does the damage.

      The solution when we couldn’t find the suitable replacement? Play with a different system.

      1. “The solution when we couldn’t find the suitable replacement? Play with a different system.”

        This! You don’t try to force the players to suit the tactic but instead you change the tactics based on the players available. You can’t play like you had 5 Messis on the pitch when you don’t have even one. 🙂

        1. Yup, and when I said ‘system’, it’s not just a written formation. It’s more about how we play, how high our defensive line should be, how we distribute the ball, etc etc. But then again, it’s just ‘fantasy football’. We, as a fans, can’t have an imagination, we might as well have this comment section closed for good.

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