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Thursday June 11 2020
Milan can't help self-destructing

Negativity never seems to be too far away from Milan and the build-up to their Coppa Italia semi-final with Juventus is no different, writes Vijay Rahaman.

Calcio is back, as after three months of lockdown, we pick up from the Coppa Italia semi-final. The first leg all the way back in February ended 1-1 at San Siro, but Milan have a mountain to climb if they are to get the result they need without suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Theo Hernandez and Samu Castillejo.

Juventus have only minor concerns with Gonzalo Higuain and Giorgio Chiellini not fully fit, but Maurizio Sarri seems likely to use a trident with Paulo Dybala, Cristiano Ronaldo and Douglas Costa. It’s one of the final opportunities for Miralem Pjanic to prove he still belongs in Turin, but Rodrigo Bentancur is the heir apparent.

While Juve focused on the job at hand, the Rossoneri went into this crucial match with their usual brand of self-inflicted chaos. CEO Ivan Gazidis confirmed his semi-hostile takeover of the club by meeting the team at their training ground on Wednesday, in the absence of current-former-who-knows director Paolo Maldini. Sacking Zvonimir Boban the day before their match with Genoa, waiting until two days before the Coppa Italia semi-final to finally speak with the players, reassuring Stefano Pioli he could still save his job while working on personal terms and transfer strategy with Ralf Rangnick, it’s been like a guide on how not to run a football club.

It's no wonder there are reports Ibrahimovic let loose at Gazidis during this tense training ground stand-off. “This is not the Milan it once was,” he is rumoured to have said, and there’s no arguing with him there. For a start, winning the Coppa Italia may well be their best route into Europe, as once again the talk of a top four finish has fallen by the wayside.

Difficulties in the boardroom and problems on the field for il Diavolo. Going into the cauldron to face La Vecchia Signora is a momentous task even at the best of times, but given all the obstacles facing the club, they'll need a minor miracle.

Given the absentees, Pioli has been working all week with a team he hopes can overcome Juve and continue the chase for silverware. A 4-2-3-1 system has reportedly been chosen, with should in theory provide the team with both balance and the unpredictability to allow the attacking midfield trio of Lucas Paqueta, Giacomo Bonaventura and Hakan Calhanoglu to change positions as the game dictates.

It says much about the current state of the club, that two of the three are not guaranteed to even be at Milan come next campaign. Paqueta has according to reports been sharp in training and, should he return to his best, it could either lead to the club keeping him or selling him at somewhere near to the €35m they spent on the Brazilian. Bonaventura is a free agent with the likes of Roma, Torino and former club Atalanta linked.

Croatian Ante Rebic should be at the top of the formation and the hope is that the form which has seen him be one of the few bright spots this year can resume after the long break. The player on a two-year loan from Eintracht Frankfurt has seven goals for the club, including the opener in the first leg of the Coppa Italia against Juve. 

Davide Calabria is expected to take over Theo's left-back position, with Andrea Conti on the opposite side, both of them far from reliable at the best of times, let alone facing Ronaldo and co. That could potentially put increased strain on the central midfield pair of Franck Kessie and Ismael Bennacer, as both players will need to be tactically switched on throughout the game to both cover the full-backs, as well as move the ball forward to the front four. 

We yearned for a return to normality with Calcio coming back, so it feels fairly apt that Milan should go into the Coppa Italia semi-final with their now traditional brand of self-inflicted chaos.

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Have your say...
AC Milan will take max 5 years to sort out this mess. best option is to finish top 6 and aim for coppa italia. Champions League aim is a bit too much. Inter Milan are miles ahead of them.
on the 12th June, 2020 at 4:14pm
I wouldnt be surprised if Juve thrash Milan in this fixture with ibra and Theo missing. And then they added another chaos. Fail to understand what gazidis is trying to do. Bald man with obvious lies!

I feared the worst when Milan appointed Gazidis to follow the Arsenal model. Two clubs in different leagues with entirely different DNA. My suspicion is turning to be a reality :(
on the 12th June, 2020 at 3:29pm
@ Anons. I look forward to your little inputs as well (whoever you are)
on the 12th June, 2020 at 1:23pm
Moggi again lol, here to tell us things we don’t know. Or do we? HahHahaha hahah
on the 12th June, 2020 at 11:41am
Oh good grief Moggi, you on this article as well. Is nowhere safe lol
Joking buddy. I look forward to your special posts. Brightens my morning lolol.
on the 12th June, 2020 at 11:39am
Dismissing Maldini will be a huge error. You can't expect anyone to fix years of error in one year. We will strip ourselves of our identity if we part ways with Paolo.

Also, Elliot see Milan as the asset. I believe they will try to increase the value of the brand through sporting results (which will need financial support) and then sell the club for maximum profit. I don't think they will sell players to make money. That's short sighted and small time mentality.
on the 12th June, 2020 at 10:04am
Yes, Boban and Maldini were doing good for what they had at their disposal. It was clear to anyone in Jan 2019 that the gamble to spend $$$ on Piatiek and paqueta in a gamble to reach the CL was a huge risk. Elliott are programmed to make money and unfortunately for Milan fans that probably means assett stripping if the opportunity arrives,
on the 12th June, 2020 at 7:25am
@ Luca

Not at all. As Paolo said, Berlusconi's fault.

The rot set in in 2005, when he stopped spending money on wise purchases to keep the club on top

Those wise signings they were once so good at were then replaced by gimmicky signings like Robinho, Ronaldinho and Beckham

Then, shortly after, there was no money spent at all, with droves of freebies and washed-up epl players like Torres and Essien arriving

Whomever is in charge of Milan has years of Silvio's mess to clean up.
on the 12th June, 2020 at 12:20am
It is super sad. I had hope that, while not the long term owners the club deserves, Elliot would bring the short term stability we sorely need. Unfortunately this choice of Gazidis is not looking too great. Full respect to Rangnick, but not sure he's what we need either. Serie A has never had a successful German coach. I understand he will be something of an all in one, but that in and of itself is also a risk. Other than Giampaolo, I thought Boban and Maldini had been doing alright...
on the 11th June, 2020 at 8:32pm
Berlusconi was one of a kind, but the reality of football has changed. Someone like him understandably can't compete financially with the wealthiest clubs in today's football reality. And Milan simply should belong to that group of wealthiest clubs.
on the 11th June, 2020 at 6:51pm
@luca

berlusconi was the one who made milan a messs
he allowed 11 senior players to leave in 2012 and didn't use the funds to reinvest into the team

he was the one who kept galliani at the helm despite him being completely unable to sign the young cheap talented players milan were apparently after

than he sold milan to crooks starting with bee ending with li

don't get me wrong for 25 years he was the best owner milan ever had. the last years were a complete disaster and was his fault
on the 11th June, 2020 at 5:39pm
It makes you realise just how effective Belusconi was as a team owner. When he took over the club it was a mess. Since he left - it has become a mess.
on the 11th June, 2020 at 5:13pm

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