Empoli-Milan Preview: Strength in Affliction

Milan suffered numerous injuries over this international break, having up to nine players simultaneously injured at one point. While a few have recovered or are in the process of recovering in time for Saturday's match, this situation, where Milan have numerous key players with long-term injuries, is all too familiar. In the past, this has been a time when the other players rose to the occasion and compensated for the missing pieces, but there is some question as to whether or not they will be able to continue to do this. These next few games will be a test to see if Milan still really does find strength in affliction.

When Milan are missing players, others step up... right?

Empoli come into this match with only seven points, with a record of one win, four draws, and two losses thus far this season. However, their singular win came just ahead of the break, a 1-0 victory over Bologna, so they come into this match with momentum... kind of. For that match, Paolo Zanetti lined up Vicario; Stojanović, Ismajli, Luperto, Parisi; Hass, Marin, Bandinelli; Bajrami; Satriano, and Lammers. He will be missing Ismajli, who suffered a muscular injury while on international duty, as well as Tonelli, who is recovering from a long-term cruciate ligament injury, Akpa Akpro, and Destro, who are not fit for this match.

Let's hope Milan have what it takes to stop Bandinelli & Co.

After losing to Napoli ahead of the break, Pioli said that the Empoli match may actually be trickier than that match. And that was before losing important players to injury over the break. While everyone will be relieved to have Leão back from suspension, losing Theo Hernández and Maignan over the break could actually prove even more detrimental, and they will be out longer, with Maignan expected to miss about a month.

Sending all of our love and healing energy

Worse, they are added to the list of long-term injuries that already included Ibrahimović and Florenzi. Origi went to Belgium ahead of the international break for treatment, and while he is reportedly feeling better, will not be fit for this match. Rebić is fighting to make it back the bench for this one, having finally partially trained with the team on Thursday after a two month absence. While Calabria and Tonali both trained with the team following their injuries, it is difficult to say whether they will be fit enough to start. Kjaer experienced ankle pain while on duty with Denmark, but put in a brief cameo in their second match, so is expected to be available for Pioli. How fit he is, however, is yet to be seen.

We need everyone else to take it up a notch to compensate

This leaves Pioli with Tatarusanu and Mirante to deputize for Maignan, and although the latter looked better and more confident in preseason, Pioli is reportedly putting his trust in the one-time hero Romanian keeper. Additionally, he has a total of 16 players who were called up for their respective national teams, many of whom played a lot of minutes and just returned Wednesday and Thursday. Those returning who are not injured include Tomori, Kalulu, Dest, Ballo-Touré, Thiaw, Bennacer, Pobega, Saelemaekers, Vranckx, De Kaetelaere, Giroud, Lazetić, and Leão.

Strength in time of crisis has always been his superpower, but will it run out?

Milan need to get back to winning ways, but their away form has been where they have struggled this season. Additionally, they face a difficult match midweek away to Chelsea in the Champions League, as well as an important match against an under-fire Allegri and his struggling Juventus side next weekend in the league, all without Theo Hernández and Maignan, on top of the other missing pieces. This one will be the first in a series of sink or swim matches for Pioli and the team, a true test of whether or not they truly can find strength in affliction.

This post inspired by the music of NIN's "Hurt"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 8
Empoli vs Milan
Saturday, October 1 • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)
This match can be streamed LIVE on Paramount+ in the U.S.

Empoli-Milan Preview: Strength in Affliction Empoli-Milan Preview: Strength in Affliction Reviewed by Elaine on 11:00 PM Rating: 5
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