Pros and cons as Pioli must decide between Kalulu and Kjaer for the derby

By Isak Möller -

AC Milan will take on Inter in the Derby della Madonnina next week and due to Fikayo Tomori’s suspension, Stefano Pioli will have to decide the new partner for Malick Thiaw. He has two players to choose between. 

The players in question are of course Pierre Kalulu and Simon Kjaer, who both have made appearances in the heart of the defence this season. However, they are two pretty different players and Pioli will have to choose wisely.

Kjaer is very experienced and is strong in the aerial duels, but he lacks pace and Inter could make the most of this. The Nerazzurri are indeed very quick in transition and the Dane thus might not be the best choice. Of course, this depends on Milan’s defensive tactics as well.

Kalulu, meanwhile, is certainly more prone to so-called rookie mistakes and is far from flawless in his positioning. However, he has both pace and strength which could be very important on Saturday. Pioli must weigh the pros and cons of both and also think about the tactics he intends to deploy.

Tags AC Milan Inter¨ Pierre Kalulu Simon Kjaer Stefano Pioli


  1. Stefano Pioli at least you have tried tomori in the right and left centre back now you have faith in him why don’t you try Kjaer in the left centre back then kalulu in the right centre back and get a good companion just like you had companion between thiaw and tomori, then give this two centre back opportunity to prove their self so you can show faith on them. (Calabria, kalulu,Kjaer, Hernandez)

  2. We should have bought Botman for that 38 million last year instead of CDK. We could have the strongest Centre backs in the league along with Thiaw.

    Kalulu overall seems better option in between these two. Kjaer’s pace is just not acceptable for derby start. Also Martinez dunked him last season, so we can’t say ‘he is good at aerial duels’. Also Thuram will body him easily. A lot depends on Krunic and RLC, if Krunic can play deep defensively and help Centre backs, we can stop their (counter) attacks. The same can be said about RLC, if he can break their defensive midfield and create some chances for Right flank and Giroud, we have a chance. I hope we will not be demolished like last season.

    1. I tend to regret the players we actually had rather than imagining about players we didn’t and probably could never had had.

      We got outbid by Saudi’s. That happens.

      We failed to get the most out of one of the most talented players of his generation (yes, CDK is in the top 1% of footballers of his age group on the planet by virtue of the fact he’s made it this far). That is something we had control over and should have done better.

      Alas we’ve both got regrets so best to stick to the present….

    2. Just my 2c but if we got Botman last season, we wouldn’t have bought Thiaw as he was deemed as cheaper alternative to Botman after we lost the bidding war. After all, Kalulu and Tomori partnership was phenomenal en route to Scudetto. It didn’t make sense to buy 2 new CB on that very next windows.

  3. Kjaer will get turned inside out, when he makes a mistake, he is toast. Kalulu can use his speed to make up for any slip up.

    2 seasons ago, would be a different story. After last year’s CL display, the Dane can watch the game.

    1. Kjaer was also phenomenal against Tottenham.

      But I agree I prefer Kalulu due to his pace. I do believe if Kalulu and Thiaw could form our CB partnership for the next decade if we can give them a chance to build a partnership.

      Unless our players are regressing Kalulu can’t have become a worse defender than 2 years ago when he was central to our title winning run. He’s clearly got potential we just need to harness it.

    2. “Kjaer will get turned inside out, when he makes a mistake, he is toast. Kalulu can use his speed to make up for any slip up. ”

      Well… Kjaer made zero mistakes against Kane and kept one of the deadliest strikers in the world completely in his pocket. Kalulu couldn’t have done that. Pace isn’t everything.

      Yeah, Kalulu is so fast, he can make two mistakes in one attack.

      1. “Kalulu can use his speed to make up for any slip up. ”

        Actually, no. He makes the mistakes in marking and inside the box. You snooze, you lose. There isn’t time to cover that mistake as the ball is already in the net.

  4. Kalulu can’t handle big games. It’s just a fact at this point. He makes mind boggling mistakes against weaker teams. The ONLY advantage he has over Kjaer is speed. Kjaer has better positioning, better strength, better tactical awareness, is a better decision maker, and is better both defending and attacking on set-pieces. Yes, he’s slow, but a Kjaer-Thiaw combo is a much better match for a game of this magnitude. Kalulu is indecisive, and that’s something we cannot afford from a defender in a derby. Kaluli cannot match Lautaro, or Thuram, and can’t even handle Sanchez from a tactical standpoint.

    1. Again these facts…..that ignore facts.

      The fact is Kalulu was integral in the run in to the Scudetto win so in actual fact he did in fact handle some very big games two years ago.

      Now I agree with you he’s made mistakes since so the million Euro question is how can he become the player he actually was 2 years ago.

  5. Inter will start with Thuram-Lautaro, so it will the best to counter it with Thiaw-Kalulu. Thiaw handle the big one : Thuram, and Kalulu handle the sneaky one : Lautaro. When Lautaro out and experienced players like Alexis Sanchez or Arnautovic get in, Kjaer will handle them. We already have the options to neutralize Inter’s forwards.

    Tomori hasn’t in his best in 3 matches so far, so i think we will not miss him too much.

    But i wonder what will Inter do with Leao as Trequartista : like to run with ball often, drop deeper to get ball and give Theo of Reijnders spaces to run, and play slowly but change his pace suddenly ?
    And what will Inter do with Loftus-Cheeks who is strong and superior in 1v1 (SMS style) ?

    If Pulisic in his top condition, Inter will have no chance to neutralize us, and will found themselves defending and find the counter-attack chances.
    But Chukwueze will start, so Inter will have his chance in their left-flank. Di Marco, Calhanoglu, & Thuram might have their chance because the can go higher because Chukwueze will not give too much trouble like Pulisic who like drop deeper and involved in many passing combinations and fast one-twos.

    1. I’m laughing reading this guy’s prediction “inter will have no chance to neutralize us”. Inter willbeat milan again again in the derby, regardless who’s gonna be milan’s starting 11

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