The three options Pioli has to choose from if Giroud misses Inter game

By Oliver Fisher -

Next week, AC Milan will face their city rivals and fellow league leaders Inter in the first Derby della Madonnina of the season, but they might have to do so without Olivier Giroud.

The condition of Giroud still remain to be clarified after he came off during the first half of France’s win against Ireland last night with an ankle injury, and today he will undergo new tests to understand how bad a knock it is.

Our colleagues at write that if Giroud is not available to start the game then there are two options available to Stefano Pioli, plus potentially a ‘wild card pick’.

Option one: The first is perhaps the most obvious and that is choosing Noah Okafor to play up front. He arrived in the summer from Red Bull Salzburg, and while he has different physical and technical characteristics compared to the Frenchman he has played as a centre-forward.

His movement and speed would offer something different for Milan, who would not have a static focal point in attack and could therefore cause confusion for Inter’s back three with speed and dribbling in a fluid attacking trident.

Option two: Then there is Luka Jovic. The Serbian arrived from Fiorentina only on the last day of the transfer window and, unlike Okafor, has not yet taken part in a full training session with the rest of his new team-mates.

However, Jovic is the attacker closest to Giroud in terms of characteristics. He is aerially strong, physically powerful and skilled in tight spaces. He is an alternative that would not distort Milan’s way of playing but his condition and how ready he is leaves doubts.

Option three: The third and final hypothesis is the use of Christian Pulisic as a ‘false nine’. He has been a starter on the right wing in the first three outings and he is experiencing a golden moment, but could be diverted to the middle allowing Samuel Chukwueze to get his first start.

The Nigerian will among the first to return to Milanello after his international commitments and while Pulisic will be the last along with Yunus Musah, it would also guarantee a mobile and position-switching front three.

Tags AC Milan Christian Pulisic Luka Jovic Noah Okafor Olivier Giroud


  1. Why is Leao never an option to play up top when Giroud can’t play?
    This season Pulisic, last seasson Brahim Diaz are/were mentioned as options but never Leao.
    So we are talking about Brahim who is 5’7 150 pounds and Pulisic who is 5’8 160 pounds and injury prone, playing between the 2 biggest dudes on the opposing team, but are we going to let the 6’2 , 188 pound dude hide on the LW where he can play vs the smaller, weaker, slower fullback.
    Do people realize that Leao is taller, heavier and stronger than Osimhen?
    This is what Pioli said last week when asked about Pulisic playing as a false 9: “Everything is possible in football when there are 2 essential factors: the quality of the players and their desire to make themselves available”.
    Which one of those 2 factors Leao doesn’t have where he isn’t even being considered to play as a striker, even if it’s for a game or two?
    Time to man up. Pulisic on the left , Chukwueze on the right, Leao up top. You’ll also give Inter a different look that they are not used to.

    1. I guess you missed the last two seasons. Leao is completely ineffective when he starts as the lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, or even when he’s the second striker in the 3-5-2. Leao needs open field in front of him to run into, not a wall of two or three defenders he would face as the point man. See any of our 3-5-2 formation games. It’s not a coincidence his production fell off a cliff when we switched to that formation for a month and a half last season.

  2. Giroud will make it. The question is, should he though?? His minutes need to be managed as the international break showed.

    I would contend that Jovic starts in place of Giroud. We need an anchor and a hold-up player which Jovic would fit in perfectly. Our Wingers are capable of scoring and jovic would help set that up. If he scores himself, then that’s an added benefit.

    Noah and Puli as a false nine is an interesting experiment NOT for THE DERBY though.


    1. @ACM1899. Totally agree. This is not the game to experiment. Okafor is not a striker. His best position is LW.

      If not Giroud or Jovic then I would rather Pulisic play as a false 9 worse case scenario. That would definitely be a good option to break through Inter’s defense.

    2. Fully agree on Giroud, he shouldn’t play. He won’t be 100% and it doesn’t worth risking him even for the derby.
      In the replacement though, Jovic looks indeed more compatible to Giroud. But Giroud is in fact far more than a static Stricker. During attack he might be, but during defence he is pressing like crazy and this pressing in particular is an important factor of our game.
      In that sense, Okafor seems a better option, he is way more athletic and he can do the pressing. I feel that this part of Giroud game’s is more important to keep than the way of Giroud’s movement while attacking.
      So I would prefer to maintain the high pressing instead of the focal point.

  3. Leão always plays better as left winger. The times when he was diverted to the center, he wasn’t as successful. As a LW Leão not only scores, but provides excellent assists to his companions. Leão’s natural position is the left wing, and it’s always advisable to use a player where he is best. Leão is actually one of the best left wingers in the world. He often can beat the right back with speed and then he has an open Avenue ahead of him, as opposed to the more crowded center of the box. Besides, Leão’s chemistry with Theo is excellent, making for a very dangerous left flank. Let’s not fix what is not broken, and keep Leão where he’s most effective.

  4. Noah Okafor according to tactical analysis is Good at centre forward, so he’s perfect to replace Geroud and he can score easily from that role jovic can substitute him.

  5. Giroud should only start if he is 100 percent fit otherwise use him in the second half we can’t loose him for longer since we have many important games coming up. Luka Jovic already knows the league so maybe he should get the nod. Unless we are planning to play just on counters than Okafor would be the better option.

  6. I’d say, start with Lea, Puli(false 9), chuk and bring okafor in later.
    Either substitute him for Puli in the same role, or substitute him for chuck and than let Puli play on the right and okafor in the middle.

    1. Leao weapon is his speed and he is more effective when giving more space. Would make no sense to play him as a striker. While pulisic has been good on the right.

  7. I am a huge fan of Olivier Giroud and have every confidence in him ,but I am a little concerned at the moment has been said if he is not 100 per cent fit then he should be rested …we have so many games coming up and we need Olivier to be at his best .
    I have no doubt that he will easily score 20 goals this season….if he is fit for the derby ,I really would fancy our chances of winning against inter

  8. Leao this season so far has drifted into striker position/false 9. Pulisic has played down the left wing when leao has been on. Pulisic would be the best bet so they can switch positions but who plays on the right. Chukeweze hasnt shown anything great when coming on. I hope he shows us something soon and yes its hard to impress coming on as a late sub. Romero also hasnt had a chance. Id say pioli plays leao,giroud,pulisic. Jovic on later or starts if giroud is not fit. A cheeky late goal for romero for the winner 😂 loftus cheek gets another yellow and misses the next match

  9. Losing Giroud for this match is huge, but honestly I’m a little more concerned with defense. The Thuram-Lautaro axis is already budding and we know that Inter’s fulbacks can and have hurt us. We’ll have Thiaw and ‘Lil Kalulu playing together in a partnership that hasn’t seen many minutes. So we have unfamiliarity, inexperience, and a height disadvantage on set-pieces. Finally, our defensive cover isn’t Kessie, or even Bennacer/Tonali. It’s Krunic. Without Giroud we can still score a couple of goals, but we might concede three or four.

  10. Well, for me whatever the strategy and formation, just hope we will overcome Inter and win.

    I personally missed the time we more superior than Inter.

  11. Never mind the option 3, because Pulisic also doubtful to start. And if Pulisic fit enough, he will take the RW role without doubt.

    If Giroud isn’t fit, Okafor will start. Because he already did it in all his appearances in ACM shirt (as a lone striker). Jovic is the real wild card : He was a quality player, had potential like a young Benzema. But his time in Real Madrid is a nightmare for any striker. He need to recover it, and if this wild card succeed, he might be the next bomb after Theo. Theo also had his best after go to Milan, from the tough-time at Real Madrid.

    “Chelsea-mart” already our best store to buy extraordinary players in cheaper price. But Real Madrid still give us only Theo. Brahim didn’t count because he went back to Real Madrid and not permanently become ours.

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