Empoli-Milan Preview: In the Bleak Midwinter

Milan's loss to Napoli hurt on so many levels. Not just the bizarre and controversial referee call, a decision which the AIA (Italian Referee Association) stood behind for an even more bizarre reason. Morale is dropping, with so few points in our latest matches, and still so many injuries in our starting lineup. Worse still, we face a newly promoted team that is playing way above their level and sits in ninth place on the table. This match is a must win for Milan fans to have anything but a bleak midwinter.

Hopefully no one falls on him, pinning him in an offside position this time

Andreazzoli's Empoli has beaten Napoli, Fiorentina, Sassuolo, and Juventus this season, all teams we lost or drew to. They come to play. And the guy that sealed the deal for them against Napoli was our former Milan son, Cutrone. Certainly, after the way he was pushed out, he won't mind scoring against us on Wednesday. On Sunday, however, Empoli drew 1-1 with Spezia. For that match, Andreazzoli lined up: Vicario; Stojanovic, Tonelli, Luperto, Marchizza; Bandinelli, Ricci, Zurkowski; Henderson, Pinamonti and Di Francesco. He will be missing Haas, who is out for the season with an ACL injury. As of this writing, he has an otherwise complete squad at his disposal.

Pioli got Giroud back on Sunday, only to have Ibrahimović turn up with a knee injury now, so he will miss this match. Also still missing are obviously Kjaer, Calabria, Rebić, Leão, Plizzari, and Pellegri. The good news is that Theo Hernández is reportedly available for this match, after missing all of last week's training with the flu and having fever as recently as Sunday. So I guess the injury count for now is about seven and a half players out, although half a Theo Hernández may be better than all of a Ballo-Touré. Despite Ballo-Touré's improvements, he is still nowhere near our starter, particularly in terms of defense.

Please not him. I just can't...

Milan keep saying "no excuses," but if your car consistently keeps being forced to run without oil or certain parts, eventually it doesn't run anymore. That's not an excuse, that's a fact. People questioning whether or not this team are good enough or whether or not Pioli should stay need to look under the hood of their car for a second and realize what this team has done for so long with so many injuries.

Facing Empoli would never be easy under any circumstances, but it will be particularly difficult with Hernández and Giroud just coming back and also missing five starters... again. Milan's injuries are so commonplace that people keep forgetting about them. Facing anyone at this point is a difficult prospect, but in the light of all of these injuries and recent form, we go into this one in the bleak midwinter.

This post inspired by the music of Fleet Foxes' "White Winter Hymnal"

Serie A Week 19
Empoli vs. Milan
Wednesday, December 22 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)
This match can be streamed LIVE on Paramount+ in the U.S.

Empoli-Milan Preview: In the Bleak Midwinter Empoli-Milan Preview: In the Bleak Midwinter Reviewed by Elaine on 1:32 PM Rating: 5
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