Milan vs. Inter Preview: Pioli's on Fire

After coaching the hell out of this team since October of 2019, Serie A has finally acknowledged Stefano Pioli by awarding him Coach of the Month for this past month. He will receive that award in front of 57,000 fans at the San Siro, most of them who will be Milan fans because it is our home Derby. He took a team that was performing at perhaps their worst under Giampaolo, and in his third season have them playing the best football in more than a decade. They achieved the goal of returning to the Champions League, and while fortune and youth have not favored their results there, they have been smashing records since his appointment. Whatever the result of this match, I know what the fans will be singing as he is awarded some long overdue accolades: "Pioli's on fire!"

On fire

Unfortunately for Milan, the other Inzaghi has benefitted from coming in to a squad that had been overpriced and underpaid. Having sold a couple of their best players, Marotta made some shrewd moves, and along with Simone Inzaghi's skills, Inter don't even miss their €12 million per year coach, or even the players they couldn't afford to pay. They do sit seven points behind us in third place on the table, but considering that Milan have had more consistency, that is not too bad. They are also faring better in Europe, because their pot four draw was a first time Moldovan side, who have given them all of their points, whereas Milan were the pot four draw against three very tough sides and some now suspended UEFA referees.

After drawing against the impotent Juventus, they have beaten a scrappy Empoli side, the lower table Udinese, and the aforementioned Sheriff Tiraspol in Moldova midweek. For that match, the other Inzaghi lined up Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, Bastoni; Darmian, Barella, Brozović, Vidal, Dimarco; Dzeko, and Lautaro Martínez. Simone Inzaghi also has a full strength squad as of this writing, with no players missing to injury or suspension. 

You know Rebić is fighting to get a piece of Inter (and maybe a certain ex-teammate)

One of Pioli's greatest achievements has been making do with what he has been given. Last year, he was given an astronomical amount of injuries, averaging five to six players out at a time for months. So Milan hired a specialist to oversee injury prevention and conditioning, and Pioli has now been averaging eight players out at a time now for at least a month. This year, the injuries are bizarre, with three surgeries so far, and we have also had four players test positive for COVID, even some who were vaccinated.

This is why Pioli is truly a great manager, because Milan are still unbeaten in the league, having won ten of our first 11 matches, something that hasn't been done for 60 years or so, despite all of the missing players. It is fun to watch all of the overpaid drama queen coaches being much less successful, and playing less attractive football, while Pioli demands a fraction of their salary and is shaming them week in and week out. It was reported this week that both Mourinho and Allegri are being paid €7 million per year to whine at press conferences, Simone Inzaghi gets €4 million per year when Inter can afford to pay him, while Pioli only gets paid €2 million per year to boss the league.

Pioli forced a draw with Allegri and beat Mourinho, can he best Simone Inzaghi, too?

For this match Theo Hernández is suspended for doing random Theo Hernández things last week in Rome. Maignan, Plizzari, Castillejo and Messias are still all out injured. There is good news in that Rebić completed tactical training on Friday and hopes to be called up, but is still in doubt. Likewise, Florenzi returned to training on Thursday and could get his first callup since his surgery. Ballo-Touré was injured this past week, but it is hoped that he will be available as well. Provided no one else tests positive for COVID, and no one else is injured trimming their nails between now and kickoff on Sunday, Pioli could possibly have as few as only five missing players for the first time in a while (but don't count on it.)

While I am absolutely thrilled for Pioli to finally be getting some recognition, this is still the Derby. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate Inter, far more than some family rivalry. Not only because they cry about every referee call that doesn't go their way, but because they cheat and take credit for things they didn't do. Also, the whole destroying Serie A thing. The word "bloodlust" is pretty much the first word that comes to my mind when this fixture comes around, and also my intense hatred of all things that slither

If he felt unwanted at Milan, just wait until Sunday

Speaking of things that slither, Calhanoglu was not popular with many Milan fans while he played for us. This will be his first "welcome" after he made the most ill-advised career move of his sketchy career moves, leaving Milan for Inter. While I never encourage unsporting behavior, particularly behavior that is particularly heinous, he may actually want to feign an injury or go deal with his ex-agent's lawsuit against him or something, because a San Siro full of Milan fans will not be kind to his brand of snakes.

All hatred and savage passions aside, I hope that this is a positive match for Pioli. He deserves to win, to be lauded for his phenomenal work to bring Milan to where we are. He has proven to be so much more than we expected on the pitch, and one of the very best men off of the pitch. He said this week that the fans singing "Pioli's on fire" is one of the greatest emotions he has experienced in his career. Whatever fires burn inside every time the Derby della Madonnina rolls around, this time around, I hope they burn even more intensely for the manager who has given us so much. Pioli's on fire.

This post inspired by the music of The Prodigy's "Firestarter"

Serie A Week 12
il Derby della Madonnina
Milan vs. Inter
Sunday, November 7 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)*
*note the time change in the U.S. due to the end of Daylight Saving Time

Milan vs. Inter Preview: Pioli's on Fire Milan vs. Inter Preview: Pioli's on Fire Reviewed by Elaine on 11:30 PM Rating: 5
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