What We Learned From Milan's Preseason European Tour

Milan's epic European Tour of four preseason friendlies ended earlier with a 2-1 win over Greek side Panathinaikos. For those who appreciate nostalgia, it was played in Trieste, birthplace of legends like Cesare Maldini and Nereo Rocco. In fact, Rocco was such a legend in the city, they named their stadium after him, the Stadio Nereo Rocco. Milan also honored him by installing a statue of Rocco overlooking the training grounds at Milanello. Personally, I am hoping that this trip back to Milan's winning roots is a sign of good things to come, but only time will tell. Depending on how seriously you rate friendlies, we did learn a few things from Milan's preseason European Tour.

Finally, someone who knows how to score

Giroud's brace against the Greek Superliga's fifth place team may not seem impressive, but his goals were fun to watch. The first one was a perfectly hit volley from a brilliant Tomori long ball in the 15th minute. 1-0 Milan. He also scored a header from a Calabria cross in the 43rd, putting Milan up 2-0. Both Rebic and Calabria had some great chances, even forcing a save or two, and Giroud also hit the post just before Pioli made his first six changes. Tatarusanu had a senior moment after he came on, basically gifting the Ionnidas goal. He made Gigio Donnarumma's worst day with the ball at his feet look world class, so the match finished 2-1. Basically, the starters looked quite good, and the bench players looked like bench players. 

The big "European tour" included the following results:

Nice 1, Milan 1

Valencia 0 (5), Milan 0 (3)

Real Madrid 0, Milan 0

Milan 2,  Panathinaikos 1

Pretty much our starters that were available in Trieste

Other things we learned:

• Giroud scored all three goals in the four matches we played. That is both good and bad. Good, because we finally have a goalscorer, bad if he is the only one to score.

• Maignan kept a clean sheet for the entire time he played in all four matches. He saved Gareth Bale's penalty, too, so let's hope that is a good omen

• Tomori may have conceded a penalty against Nice, but he also provided an assist vs. Panathinaikos, so that evens out for me. He looks to be worth his purchase price.

• Leao is still not a center forward, but played so beautifully on the left again and not so bad in the center behind a real striker. Let's hope that we see him there more often this season.

This was basically the impact Krunić had today

• Krunić is a danger to himself and others. He had a nasty tackle against Valencia, which started a full on brawl. He played more minutes than any other player against Panathinaikos. Which was partially justifiable, because since the unstoppable Kessié has a muscle injury, Pioli probably wanted to see if he could play in the midfield pairing. Turns out, he's still just a hardworking, versatile bench player who randomly makes very rash tackles. Let's hope Pioli allows him more time on the bench this season.

• It's a shame that Castillejo wasn't left behind in Spain. Saelemaekers still works hard and was even kind of impressive against Real Madrid, but I don't know anyone who wants to watch another season with those two as our only options.

Hauge gets playing time, Hauge scores. It's what he does.

• Hauge should not have been pushed out. He played great on his debut for Eintracht Frankfurt, coming on at the half and scoring their only goal against Borussia Dortmund. He looked lighter and both trained and played more freely this week, in spite of being forced into the worst social media idea ever. So his playing time at Milan definitely seemed to be an issue between he and Pioli. Let's hope Eintracht are relegated, as that apparently would nullify their obligation to buy him and maybe we could get him back.

Will this team make Nereo Rocco proud?

Most of the other players performed as expected, but these were just friendlies, and Pioli did do some experimenting. We will miss Ibrahimović and Kessié in our first few matches due to injury, but the squad looks pretty solid despite losing a couple of glory hunters. There are still a couple of weeks in the mercato, and plenty of rumors. But with a couple of players being unmarketable or unwilling to move, we may not see much more change. Ready or not, the season begins next week. Hopefully the players learned enough from Milan's preseason European Tour.

Buon Ferragosto!

This post inspired by the music of Savages' "The Answer"

What We Learned From Milan's Preseason European Tour What We Learned From Milan's Preseason European Tour Reviewed by Elaine on 11:58 PM Rating: 5
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