Austrian Expedition

After a disappointing preseason performance on Saturday in Hungary, Pioli made no mistakes in his starting lineup in Klagenfurt against Austrian side Wolfsberger. Despite the Austrians' best efforts, Milan took no prisoners, with the match ending 5-0 for the Rossoneri. While these matches are truly meaningless in the overall scheme of things, this result perhaps gave fans a bit of comfort considering the lack of significant investments in the transfer market. After watching the team go for a lovely bike ride in Klagenfurt earlier in the week, this match felt like more of an Austrian expedition. 

The starting 11 for our expedition

For the first 38 minutes, Milan created some chances, but Wolfsberger did very well to defend. Maybe it was the fact that their kits were absolutely covered with sponsors, and thus distracted the players, but they did defend well for a while. With Pioli's starting lineup, you had to know that wouldn't last. His starting eleven:

Maignan; Calabria, Kalulu, Tomori, Theo Hernández; Bennacer, Krunić; Saelemaekers, Adli, Leão; and Rebić. 

Sublime

When Milan finally broke through, it was in style. Calabria sent a long ball up to Leão, who controlled it easily, then sent it sublimely over poor Gütlbauer as if it was child's play. 1-0 Milan. Just two minutes later, Adli sent in a perfect cross for Rebić, who slotted it home, 2-0 Milan. Tomori took a worrisome knock right at the half, but was back on the pitch after halftime.

Rebić on target again, Adli with the assist

Messias was subbed on for Leão at the half, and then Krunić was down injured just a few minutes later, with a knock to his jaw. Theo Hernández went from zero to 60 mph in a flash, and sent in the perfect cross for Messias, who only had to tap it in for the third goal, 3-0 Milan. 

Turning on the speed for the assist

Once again, just a couple of minutes later, Saelemaekers tried his luck, but Gütlbauer blocked it, and Adli scored on the rebound to make it 4-0 Milan. His first goal for Milan, plus the assist.

First goal and the assist

As mentioned previously, Adli has really been settling in nicely and connecting well with his new teammates. Who knew that it would pay to sign a young player and let him continue to develop for a year, then bring him into the first team? Or you could just throw cash at big name players and still lose to the team that... wait for it... signed a young player and waited a year for him. (Grazie Maldini e Massara)

In the right place at the right time, scoring instincts

Pioli did his sub-o-rama in the 60th, subbing off everyone but Messias, Saelemaekers, and Kalulu and ending up with this lineup:

Mirante; Florenzi, Kalulu, Gabbia, Ballo-Touré; Bakayoko, Tonali; Messias, Brahim Díaz, Saelemaekers; and Lazetić.

Will Mirante be chosen ahead of Tatarusanu this season?

I was grateful to see Mirante get more time, as he was far more confident than Tatarusanu so far in preseason. It will be interesting to see who ends up being Maignan's backup. Mirante was forced into a couple of saves, two more saves than Maignan was asked to make on the evening, and he did well to stop them. Both Mirante and Tatarusanu have a history of errors, but Mirante had a longer career of consistently playing well, and that may serve us better.

In the 66th, Ballo-Touré sent a ball into the box from a corner, and Gabbia headed it home to make it 5-0 Milan. About ten minutes later, Pioli subbed on Primavera players Coubis and Gala for Kalulu and Saelemaekers, respectively. Interestingly, Brescianini and Tatarusanu were the only two players called up who did not get any time in this match. (Perhaps not coincidentally, they were also the two worst players on the pitch for Milan on Saturday in Hungary.)

Gabbia returning Pioli's faith while wearing the armband

Still not available were Origi and Kjaer as they continue to recover from their respective injuries. Giroud trained alone on Tuesday (probably because he fought so hard to "win" his "Tour de L'Autriche" bicycle ride the other day,) and was not called up for this one. Likewise, Pobega was not called up once again, as he is struggling with a slight muscle strain in his thigh. Finally, Daniel Maldini reportedly said goodbye to his teammates on Tuesday and is set to have medicals with Spezia on Thursday ahead of being sent on loan to the Serie A club.

Ciao for now?

This match was a great morale booster for the team and for the fans. There are still so many very big questions about the sale of the club, the transfer market, how on earth we will compete in the Champions League with certain players still in this squad (or without certain reinforcements in the squad,) as well as global warming, peace in Ukraine, and so many other worries on the minds of Milan fans. But at least this match reminded us of what Milan has that no other Serie A team has (aside from the Scudetto patch on our kits, of course.) We still have that iron clad mentality, the team solidarity, the consistency, and that heart and soul that won us that Scudetto last year. So for whatever it was worth, we can enjoy this Austrian expedition. 


This post inspired by the music of Mazzy Star's "Fade into You"


Our next match is 
a preseason friendly
Olympique de Marseille vs. AC Milan
Sunday, July 31 • 18:00 CEST (12noon EDT)
Orange Vélodrome, Marseille
This match can be streamed on ESPN+ in the U.S.
and will be broadcast on ESPN Deportes in the U.S.
Austrian Expedition Austrian Expedition Reviewed by Elaine on 1:00 AM Rating: 5
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