🇮🇹 Crisis in Milan as Pioli's fire is in danger of dying 🔥 | OneFootball

Icon: OneFootball


Padraig Whelan·30 January 2023

🇮🇹 Crisis in Milan as Pioli's fire is in danger of dying 🔥

Article image:🇮🇹 Crisis in Milan as Pioli's fire is in danger of dying 🔥

For users in the UK and Ireland, OneFootball is the place to watch Serie A this season, with one live match streaming for free each week, plus goals as they go in and highlights from all 380 games.

Highlights available in UK and Ireland only

What a difference two games against Sassuolo, eight months apart, make for Milan.

Last May, their jubilant players huddled together for a rousing rendition of “Pioli’s on fire” in honour of their coach after sealing a first Scudetto in over a decade after a 3-0 thrashing of the Neroverdi.

Cigar-touting Zlatan Ibrahimović stood like a conquering emperor among his younger team-mates and delivered a post-game speech for the ages in the dressing room. The scenes on Sunday after the latest meeting between the sides were much different.

Some Milan players shuffled sheepishly to the Curva Sud and offered apologies after their most abject performance of the season to date, capitulating to a 5-2 loss against a Sassuolo side who started the weekend in 17th with just four wins to their name.

Other Rossoneri players became embroiled in ill-tempered scuffles with their opposition counterparts as they left the field, although to the credit of the club’s ultras, instead of responding angrily, they applauded and chanted a chilling warning ahead of their clash with Inter next: “We want 11 lions in the derby!”

They will need to be much better than their most recent Derby della Madonnina efforts when they put in a flat showing in Saudi Arabia in the Supercoppa Italiana, meekly losing 3-0.

Article image:🇮🇹 Crisis in Milan as Pioli's fire is in danger of dying 🔥

That came on the back of a game against Roma which may be pinpointed come the campaign’s end as they moment it all went wrong when, after taking a 2-0 lead late on, they conceded two set-piece goals on 87 and 93 minutes to throw two points away.

Since then, they have played five and conceded 15, with their defence being the worst in Europe’s top five leagues to start 2023. At least three goals have now been shipped in their last three successive games, only the third time that has happened in club history with the last time coming in the 1950s.

Following the Roma game, they said Adopo to the Coppa Italia at home against the 10 men of Torino after extra-time, mounted a comeback in Lecce but still drew 2-2 and last week, must have thought things couldn’t get any worse (until they did) with a 4-0 defeat to Lazio.

How have things reached this point? Their transfer business in an attempt to build upon their position of strength as champions has been a factor.

The €35m marquee acquisition of Charles De Ketelaere hasn’t worked out so far, with Stefano Pioli appearing uncertain of his best position, and although patience and an extended run may be what is needed, the optimistic early comparisons with Kaká seem fanciful.

Article image:🇮🇹 Crisis in Milan as Pioli's fire is in danger of dying 🔥

Compatriot Divock Origi has struggled for fitness and Malick Thiaw has been overlooked for the struggling Matteo Gabbi. But the biggest misstep of all has been the failure to find adequate back-up to Mike Maignan given his long-term fitness issues.

That was a glaring problem coming into January and the Rossoneri’s reaction to it has been to bring in unknown 24-year-old Colombian keeper Devis Vásquez, a man with just 31 appearances under his belt in his career so far.

That wasn’t what was needed, particularly as veteran Ciprian Tătărușanu continues to look more like a deer in the headlights with each passing week, appearing uncertain and timid at set-pieces and offering oceans of space to opposing players at his near post.

Their failure to find a suitable right winger as Junior Messias and Alexis Saelemaekers struggle has been an ongoing problem. Injuries haven’t helped either, with a whole host of key senior personnel sidelined at various points so far.

Key figures in the Scudetto triumph, notably Fikayo Tomori and Sandro Tonali, have looked a shadow of themselves this season, while Calciomercato even claim that renewal talks for Rafael Leão have been placed on hold as he has “lost his smile”.

Pioli must find a way of steadying his defence and reigniting that famous fire. And fast.

And elsewhere …

Highlights available in UK and Ireland only

Monza became only the second team ever and the first since 1930 to win both of their first two top flight meetings with Juventus, stunning them 2-0 in Turin to increase the crisis at the Bianconeri.

Napoli cannot be stopped as their relentless charge towards the finish line continued as a Victor Osimhen stunner helped them to victory over Roma.

Mimmo Berardi absolutely loves playing against Milan. At San Siro, he contributed to four of the five goals with three assists and a header of his own to take his career tally against the Rossoneri to 11 goals and seven assists in 19 games.