Monday June 29 2020
Milan rope-a-dope works on Roma

Milan’s game management and useful options off the bench completely out-foxed Roma, writes Vijay Rahaman, as the Rossoneri are building momentum.

Stefano Pioli started the same team in consecutive games and his faith was rewarded, as Milan picked up two straight wins for only the fourth time this campaign. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic seemingly heading for the exit, Ante Rebic’s central role is future-proofing the team. Will the Swede even get back into the side after they have found this kind of momentum?

Perhaps the Rossoneri have just replaced one key figure with another, as Rebic has scored almost half of all their goals in 2020. Simon Kjaer is another man on loan who is becoming essential, as he was made to play with a sprained ankle and still made a series of crucial blocks in defence. What are they waiting for before purchasing him from Sevilla?

In the red hot summer conditions with temperatures well over 30 degrees, Milan and Roma sparred with each other like heavyweight boxers who fully well knew this was going to go all 12 rounds. It was the visitors though that tried to land the early punches with Justin Kluivert and Henrik Mkhitaryan, then Edin Dzeko missed a sitter by turning a free header over the bar. It was very unlike the Bosnian, whose heroics midweek rescued his team from defeat to Sampdoria.

The front four for the Rossoneri of Hakan Calhanoglu, Giacomo Bonaventura, Samu Castillejo and Ante Rebic who were so energetic with their movement, passing and switches of play in their comfortable 4-1 victory over Lecce, took some time to get into gear. However, as the match wore on, their influence became more and more notable. 

It was intelligent match management from Pioli, knowing Roma had only played once since the lockdown and their fitness levels would inevitably fade. They were on the ropes in the first half, but fully prepared to accept those punches, ready for a final flurry once the Giallorossi ran out of steam.

Pioli brought on Lucas Paqueta and Alexis Saelemaekers for the tiring Castillejo and Bonaventura and it worked a treat. Both players have found it difficult to impact the team, but it was their combination that broke the deadlock.

The goal had been coming, as il Diavolo had been using a series of jabs, until getting in a real significant punch. Pace again proved essential for the second goal, as a tired Chris Smalling caught the indefatigable Theo Hernandez for a penalty, converted by Calhanoglu to seal the victory late on. Pioli’s game plan had worked perfectly.

As for Roma, the lack of any kind of understudy to Dzeko was painfully evident, as when the Bosnian trudged off the San Siro pitch, he was replaced by Nikola Kalinic. Nobody knows more than Milan fans just how little he can contribute to a team, but Paulo Fonseca has nobody else to call on. The coach can insist until he’s blue in the face that the Giallorossi aren’t dependent on Dzeko, but that won’t change the facts. While Rebic has scored almost half of all Milan’s goals in 2020, he did so playing in two different roles. Roma have Plan A: Dzeko and that’s it.

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Have your say...
Another good result for Milan. Kjaer has done really well and deserves to be signed permanently and played alongside Romagnoli until Gabbia comes of age in a year or two. in 2-3 years time Milan could have an Italian core of Donnaruma , Romagnoli & Gabbia which would be a great platform to build on especially if they can hold on to Theo long term as well.
on the 30th June, 2020 at 12:05pm
kjaer should be brought considering his wage demands and fee it is relatively minimal especially if milan are getting rid of other players like mussa.

Personally i think milan is a mediocre team but they doing what you want to see from them as a fan. they are fighting for ball, they are passing it about, they are working as a team. this is probably why they are getting positive results
on the 29th June, 2020 at 7:26pm
I agree with my almost identical twin. I think Kjaer would be a steal and will be able to contribute for two to three seasons. I think it's a good fit for where we are at the moment. If we get CL money then we can upgrade there to play alongside Romagnoli.
on the 29th June, 2020 at 5:01pm
PS: I just rewatched the first goal. Smalling was even worse than Bryan, only a bystander... Mirante's save on first Rebic shot was phenomenal though.
on the 29th June, 2020 at 3:18pm
For all Cristante fans (those who don't watch Roma games.)
Yeah, he wasn't horrible yesterday... But watch Milan's first goal.
How did Bryan react when Zappa passed ball to Rebic? --How did he track back?
When he got back, did he cover "his player"..? Or headlessly run after the ball leaving Rebic unmarked?

Mancini usually makes these mistakes.
Both are bad players.
Both adored by Fonseca.

Roma has good enough team to compete with Atalanta, Lazio & even Inter. But our coach is doing a bad job.
on the 29th June, 2020 at 2:34pm
Fonseca's ONLY contribution to Roma will be losing AMAZING Under. Cengiz has great acceleration, dribble, beautiful shots... --He is Dybala 2.0!

Yesterday he'd be perfect to unlock Milan's game, but Turk doesn't get Fonseca's approval.

It's not like Under shone in every game --far from it. But we can't tell if his inconsistencies are down to his inconsistet playing time!
His TALENT is undeniable. Play him in every game until the end of season. Let's see what he's got! Give him a REAL chance.
on the 29th June, 2020 at 2:02pm
I liked the boxing metaphors. Let's just hope these wins build some much needed confidence for Milan.

And yes, Kjaer has been fantastic and even better than Romagnoli since he came. I'd sign him in a heartbeat.
on the 29th June, 2020 at 12:50pm
You forgot to write how "Roman", when getting all those jabs from "Milan", counter-punched... HIMSELF!!!
--It was hilarious. Rarely you see "boxer" do that. But strangely, Roman did THE SAME JUST DAYS AGO against his previous opponent "Dario"!
In that fight, he regained himself & managed to win... But "Milan", who had more time to prepare & surely watched & learnt from "Roman-Daro" fight, didn't allow it & knocked-out dazzled "Roman".

Also,"Roman" received bad tips from his clueless cornerman!
on the 29th June, 2020 at 12:07pm

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