We have now reached the first respite of the 2022-23 season with the club ending just two weeks of work to make way for international matches.
The new campaign’s opening nine matches – seven in the Serie A and two in the Champions League – give us just enough to go forward in terms of assessing how Milan have progressed in defending the title and looking to go further. Europe.
Here are some things we learned from the first few weeks of the new season…
1. Resolute spirit
It’s never something the coach would want to show, but Stefano Pioli should be pleased with his team’s ability to respond when games are late.
Milan has so far delayed in its first match of the season against Udinese (Win 4-2), first away game against Atalanta (draw 1-1), derby against Inter (Win 3-2), Champions League trip to Red Bull Salzburg ( Drawn 1-1) and the last match at home against Napoli (lost 2-1).
Therefore, in each of the five games in which the Rossoneri were behind, they somehow responded by claiming either a draw or a win, with the exception of the match against Napoli where they were still the better team. That kind of fighting spirit is a positive thing, but there is clear work to be done to ensure Milan score first.
2. Bin Nasser’s escalation
Frank Kessie’s summer farewell appears to have left a gaping hole in Milan’s midfield and no player has arrived who has clearly bridged the gap in the qualities the Ivorian has brought, at least while Tommaso Boubega continues to deliver with care and only Aster Franks has. Hijab so far.
In this first phase of the season until the international break, it is fair to say that Benasser was a shining star in the Rossoneri’s midfield, increasingly becoming Pioli’s captain after winning the Scudetto.
The Algerian has taken on a few other duties in the defensive phase and continues to contribute to building play as well, so it’s no surprise to hear conversations going on between the club and the player’s entourage. to extend his current contract Expires in 2024.
3. New contracts need time to avoid them
With the exception of a few elite players, it’s very rare for new signings to arrive and get started right away, yet there is some concern among the fan base about the lack of impact some recruits have made in the summer.
Charles De Ketelaere was the big summer signing with an investment of over €30m, and although he only has one pass and has yet to score, he still contributes. Milan News She reported that the Belgian is number one in Serie A for key passes for 90 minutes (with just under 3) and xA (expected passes, or probability of a pass becoming an assist) per 90 minutes with 0.4.
However, we have only seen flashes of the likes of Yassin Adly and Aster Franks, while Malik Thiaw has yet to make his debut with the club and Sergino Dest has been used but with varying degrees of effectiveness.
Pioli is a demanding coach because of the complex system and mechanics he wants to impose on the team, but he also recognizes talent and will strive to put new recruits in the right positions for success.
4. Still one
Olivier Giroud has five goals in nine games for Milan so far this season and has continued his trend to be the man to score big, scoring in the derby against Inter (again), in the Champions League against Dinamo Zagreb and also a draw against Inter. Naples.
His scoring comeback has earned him a call-up to the France team, and he’s very close to achieving what would be a milestone given that he is two short of Thierry Henry’s record as the all-time leading scorer, aiming for a spot on board for the Qatar World Cup.
At the age of 35 years and 349 days, Olivier Giroud became the second oldest French player to score a goal in the Champions League, after Laurent Blanc with Manchester United in 2002 (36 years and 338 days).
– MilanData📊 (@acmilandata) September 14, 2022
The Frenchman is seen as one of the defining facts of Pioli’s attack and an example for young players due to his stature as a captain in the dressing room. His physical reliability has also been nearly flawless so far in 2022-23 as he’s now in seven starts in a row, so it’s no surprise to hear that. Talks are underway to extend his agreement After the deadline in June 2023.
5. Kajaer is back and still a leader
Simon Kerr suffered a serious knee injury in December last year in the away win at Genoa and needed eight months to get back on the grass, but he has already started two games this season and is looking to get back into being a defensive leader.
Admittedly, Milan’s defensive record this season has not been something to be proud of (which we’ll touch on), but given the lack of a solid centre-back it was significant that Kjaer was fully fit and able to contribute.
In the matches started by Kier, Milan kept a clean sheet against Sassuolo, wasting very little, and then won 2-1 against Sampdoria, where they played with ten men for 45 minutes and stopped their hosts with one goal.
The Dane’s return is a big deal for the changing room too given the wealth of knowledge and experience he can pass on to the young team.
6. Positive surprise
Milan have been linked with several goals during the summer for the right-wing role including the likes of Domenico Berardi, Marco Asensio, Hakim Ziyech and even Riyad Mahrez, but Paolo Maldini and Ricky Masarra have decided to back Alexis Sailemakers and Junior Messias.
So far they have been swapped by status and facing the opponent, but the Saelemaekers have appeared in 8 of 9 matches this season for a total of 371 minutes, scoring two goals – both in the Champions League against RB Salzburg and Dinamo Zagreb – and adding an assist.
Meanwhile, Messias has played at least a role in all nine matches Milan have played so far. The Brazilian in the 408th minute at present, scored a goal in a 2-1 away win over Sampdoria.
Thus, management can be happy with their contribution so far, and while this in no way means Milan are okay on the right side in attack, it is a pleasant surprise more than anything else to have a meaningful contribution from so many wings. Fans considered that they lost grounds.
7. Pioli come up with new tactical solutions
Stefano Pioli has often spoken of his desire to create a fickle team and an unpredictable chameleon, and the Rossoneri coach admitted that after the win over Samp – which included a red card for Leo that forced him to redesign the squad during the match – that a three-man defense could be an option to go on. ahead.
We have highlighted many different aspects of Milan playing this season that have made it very difficult to predict, such as Turning the role of Ismail bin NasserAnd the Changing the number of players used in Formative PlayAnd the Different midfield combinations are used Even the false nine are published.
Not only that, but the spot exchanges were great to watch as you can dig into different moments in the games and watch Theo Hernandez play as a midfielder, Sandro Tonali on the winger, and Rafael Leao as a striker and playmaker drop to be a midfielder.
Milan have a lot of leads at the moment, and given their struggle to break the low mass at times in previous seasons under Pioli, these are positive steps.
8. Depth of attack
Pioli hasn’t been able to rotate his key players anywhere near as much as he would like due to the injury issues he has been battling.
A big part of the problem has been the loss of Ante Rebek and Divock Origi in each of the last few matches with the former suffering a hernia that now appears to have been removed and the latter having a muscle problem which then affected the tendon.
This means that both Raphael Liao and Olivier Giroud have been working overtime since the start of the season. Some of the Portuguese winger’s performances were lacking as a result (but he was still decisive) while the French striker is not expected to start match after match at the age of 35.
The hope is to get both back straight after the international break so some healthy rotation can be implemented, or else things could go wrong before they get better from an injury standpoint.
9. Strength for weakness
Milan won the Italian league title last season after keeping 9 clean sheets in the last 11 league matches, and conceding only two nets in that period, but this season so far they have allowed 8 goals to be scored in the first 7 league matches.
The Rossoneri have already allowed as many goals to be scored in the league this season as they have done in the entire second half of the 2021-22 Serie A season, and there are a number of factors behind this.
Many individual mistakes were made, as lapses in focus proved costly. Sergino Dest and Fikayo Tomori missed Napoli and proved to be a killer, but there’s no reason to be too concerned just yet.
This is because the group is still adjusting to the defensive rotation which is simply a necessity. While seeing Tomori-Kalulu in every game would be perfect, they need to rest sometimes and this is often in partnership with other changes that reduce the defensive unit’s cohesion and knowledge a bit.
However, the panic button should not be pressed yet. Tomori remains as certain as Kalulu and Kiar do, with Theo Hernandez and David Calabria all having great potential, but the break now comes to reset everything and get these bugs out of the system.
10. Goals are still on the right track
It’s important that you end up with a positive result, because that must be how Milanese feel about the first seven weeks or so that the season has been going on. Milan is on the cusp of returning to the top of the Italian league table (by three points) and sitting at the top of its group in the Champions League.
This means that the two main goals of the season – competing to defend the Premier League and reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League – are on track to be met. Winning the title should be the goal, but for a young group that still has clear areas to tackle, competing on two fronts would be a fine effort.
The Coppa Italia bracket also provides a good opportunity to delve deeper into the competition, although the message has to be the same as it has always been throughout Pioli’s tenure: take one game at a time and look to keep improving.