Lecce-Milan Preview: Soul Searching

After two disappointing results this week, Milan travel away to Lecce to be tested once again. Dropping points against Roma was very disappointing, but being knocked out of the Coppa Italia by ten men Torino in Added Extra Time was beyond a bitter cup to swallow. To apply Thomas Paine's famous quote to our situation, "These are the times that try fans' souls." The players can either succumb to the poor performances and continue to spiral downward, or they can lift their heads and let the pain fuel them to victory. Three years ago, it was a brutal defeat to Atalanta that inspired this team. Last year, it was a bitter defeat to Inter in the Coppa Italia Semifinal that fueled the team to the Scudetto finish. This week is definitely time for Pioli and the guys to do some serious soul searching.

As individuals and as a team, they have had to take a good look in the mirror this week

Lecce are the newly promoted side that are flying high this year, sitting in 11th place on the table. They have benefitted from the loan of Milan's young striker, Lorenzo Colombo, who has scored four goals for them, each of them stunning goal-of-the-week contenders. They had bit of a rough start after the break, however, as Umtiti and Banda suffered racial abuse from Lazio fans, despite Lecce's 2-1 surprise win over the Biancocelesti. That should not be a problem with Milan fans.

Last Sunday's result was a 0-0 draw with Spezia. For that match, Baroni lined up: Falcone; Gendrey, Baschirotto, Umtiti, Gallo; Joan Gonzàlez, Blin, Maleh; Strefezza, our own Colombo, and Federico Di Francesco. Colombo promised this week that he would not celebrate if he scored against us, which pretty much guarantees that he will score against us. Baroni will be missing both Dermaku and Pongračić to injury.

Plenty of playing time for Colombo at Lecce, and no injuries

In addition to the wounded souls and mentality of the entire club and its worldwide fanbase, Pioli still has a lengthy injury list to manage. Out still are Ibrahimović, Maignan, Florenzi, Krunić, Ballo-Touré, and Rebić. Additionally, Tonali is suspended for this one for card accumulation. So we are down to "only" seven players out. In good news, however, Messias obviously played on Wednesday, and Origi and Kjaer both returned to group training on Thursday. More good news is that Bennacer finally signed his renewal through 2027 on Thursday, which should make fans feel at least a little better.

Whether this match is a tragedy or a triumph for Milan will have a lot to do with whether or not Pioli is able to dig deep and find that grinta and mental toughness from his players that he has become known for during his tenure at Milan. After the defeat against Torino, all of the players stayed at Milanello through their training session on Thursday, which is hopefully a good sign. The potential of three points for Milan also lies in the ability the players may or may not have to be able to do some serious soul searching between now and Saturday. 

Bringing this man back into the team will be priceless

Champions are not bought, they are forged. Last year, the Scudetto was won through challenges even tougher than what this team has faced this year. Yes, they could use some reinforcements, most everyone sees that. But clearly, no one is willing to leave. And Milan have managed to maintain their sustainable financial status, which is also crucial to longterm success. So it is up to this group of players to reach down and find the champions within if we are to achieve any more trophy wins this season. Let's hope that every member of the team has managed to do some serious soul searching.

This post inspired by the music of The Cure's "To Wish Impossible Things"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 18
Lecce vs. Milan
Saturday, January 14, 2023 • 18:00 CET (9am EST)
This match can be streamed LIVE on Paramount+ in the U.S.

Lecce-Milan Preview: Soul Searching Lecce-Milan Preview: Soul Searching Reviewed by Elaine on 12:00 AM Rating: 5
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