Coppa Italia Round of 16 • Milan-Torino Preview: Back for More

Saturday's loss wasn't enough for Giampaolo, his Torino side must return to the San Siro on Tuesday to face Milan, this time in the Coppa Italia Round of 16. Despite having slightly more possession, Torino were held to only one shot on target in that match, which is not encouraging for their second time meeting Milan in the space of four days. However, both teams will make adjustments, and this time the stakes are raised, as the options are win or go home. Still, Milan have to be careful, too, in protecting their players and trying to stop the long list of injuries they have been acumulating. It will be the same clubs, but both teams are coming back for more.


Pioli's choices in this match could be vital to Milan's season


Giampaolo's postmatch comments on Saturday do not give me a lot of faith in his ability to read what his team needed to do to change. At Milan, his short tenure was made shorter by confusing the players and fans alike with his "tactics," something that has definitely been repeated at Torino. He had a good spell at Sampdoria, but considering that their owner is 100% certifiably crazy, he probably seemed sane to them. At clubs with some sense of mental competency, no one can follow where his mind goes.

Torino have only won two league matches this season, but they also defeated Lecce 3-1 back in October in the Coppa Italia Third Round to qualify for this round. That was without their captain and talisman Belotti, perhaps Giampaolo will revisit that idea, having complained about Torino having the most impacted schedule right now. We do know that on Saturday, he lined up Sirigu; Izzo, Lyanco, Bremer; Singo, Lukic, Rincon, Gojak, Milan's former left back Ricardo Rodriguez; former Milan youth player Simone Verdi; and Belotti. As of this writing, Giampaolo looks to have a full squad to choose from, despite whining about tired legs while facing a team that has played more matches and are depleted by injuries.


Still dazed and confused

One look at a stat that can tell you where Giampaolo has failed Torino, which would not be shocking to Milan fans who remember his short spell at our club: While Torino have scored 26 goals in Serie A this season, they have conceded 35 goals. In contrast, Milan have scored 37 goals, but only conceded 19. Giampaolo has never managed to create a plausible defense at Milan or Torino.

Pioli will be primarily concerned with which players to line up against Torino, with having eleven healthy starters clearly his first concern. There is talk of allowing Tatarusanu play instead of Gigio. Traditionally, coaches play their second keeper in Coppa matches, but that hasn't happened much at Milan in recent years, with the club previously valuing the Coppa Italia as important, particularly without European football. It will be interesting to see what Pioli does this time.


Will Gigio play? Or will our fate be risked with Tatarusanu?

We have not heard as of this writing what the extent of Brahim and Tonali's injuries are. Tonali was actually stretchered off on Saturday, so he is not likely to be available, while Brahim's seemed less serious. They would join the list of Gabbia, Bennacer, and Saelemaekers, who are all injured. Barring a miraculous two negative tests before Tuesday, Rebic and Krunic are still quarantined due to COVID-19. Leao has a problem with his big toe, but may play through pain, because he will be available for this match, but is suspended in the league for Sunday's match. The good news is that Calhanoglu looked healthy enough for the 30 minutes he played on Saturday, and Ibrahimovic played about ten minutes. 

Whether or not Pioli will risk them against such a physical team, however, remains to be seen. The club always want to win, but in light of this injury crisis, they must also honestly evaluate how much a Coppa Italia run is worth with such a young team. More injuries at this point could impact their chances of Champions League qualification or even a Scudetto, as well as a good effort in the Europa League, both of which are more valuable financially and for the prestige of the club.


Kjaer v. Rodriguez emphasizes how Milan have grown in quality

Milan were convincing against all odds on Saturday, and Giampaolo's Torino were... not. We can only hope that they packed their away kits instead of those hideous third kits for the sake of anyone who watches this match. Torino could definitely surprise a beleaguered Milan side on Tuesday, but a win here doesn't help their chances of staying up in Serie A. Milan risk more injuries with every match, so Pioli will need to choose his players wisely to support the future of our league campaign. Both teams have something to lose, so either way you look at it, both teams are coming back for more.


This post inspired by the music of Us3's "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)"


Coppa Italia Round of 16
Milan vs. Torino
Tuesday, January 12 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)
This match can be streamed LIVE on ESPN+ in the U.S.


Coppa Italia Round of 16 • Milan-Torino Preview: Back for More Coppa Italia Round of 16 • Milan-Torino Preview: Back for More Reviewed by Elaine on 11:00 PM Rating: 5
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