Salernitana-Milan Preview: Ready or Not

Serie A kicks off again tomorrow, and Milan are away to face 12th place Salernitana. After a first part of the season that was plagued with so many serious injuries, it was hoped that Milan would have most of our players back at this point. Instead, we have two fresh new injuries as of Friday, with Rebić out again and Ballo-Touré's surgery yesterday set to leave him out of action for four months. Probably most surprisingly, Maignan is still out, leaving Milan with a dilemma about the goalkeeping situation. Worse still, the performance against PSV left much to be desired, and definitely not the way Pioli would want to kickstart the restart after this unprecedented break. But ready or not, here we are.

Rebić and Ballo-Touré, heroes vs. Empoli, are the latest additions to the injury list

Last season, Salernitana spent the entire season in the relegation zone until the last few rounds. Davide Nicola was brought in near the beginning of February, a specialist in saving teams from relegation, and he performed another miracle. They wisely reinforced for him in the summer, and in October, Franck Ribery retired as a player/injury table connoisseur and joined his technical staff. That particular combination of events seems to have improved their results this season. 

Salernitana have an interestingly similar situation to Milan in that their starting goalkeeper, Luigi Sepe, also suffered a calf injury and is out for about two months. Unlike Milan, they did not turn to their backup keepers. Ten days ago, they signed veteran Mexican keeper Guillermo Ochoa to start in his absence. He already played in their friendly on Friday vs. Serie C side Gelbison, although he was unable to keep a clean sheet in Salernitana's 2-1 win.

Veteran keeper Ochoa is new to Serie A and Salernitana

Over the break, Salernitana played a couple of friendlies in Turkey. Their most recent one was a 3-1 loss to Alanyspor. For that match, Nicola lined up: Micai; Lovato, Radovanovic, Fazio; Junior Sambia, Capezzi, Bohinen, Vilhena, Bradarić; Bonazzoli, and Valencia. However, as it was just a friendly, and with changes in personnel and fitness, his lineup for our match will likely look much different.

Nicola has a few missing players to worry about. In addition to Sepe, he will be missing Mazzocchi, Maggiore, and Gyomber to injury. There are also fitness questions as of this writing about Vilhena and Boulaye Dia. Former Inter player Candreva is suspended for this match after receiving a yellow card for protesting from the bench, then a second yellow for a foul once he was on the pitch in their 3-0 loss to Monza just ahead of the break.

Our traveling fans may be our only sure bet... except it's a midweek lunchtime match

Milan start where we left off – in second place – but eight full points behind Napoli. Pioli was missing six players when Milan barely managed the 2-1 win against his former Fiorentina ahead of the break. For this one, he will likely be missing more. Still definitely out are Ibrahimović, Florenzi, Maignan, and now also Origi, Rebić and Ballo-Touré. Both Messias and Krunić have been out injured, and it is unknown as of this writing whether or not they are fit. Additionally, Giroud and Theo Hernández only returned from their World Cup break on Friday, having played in the final for France. It is unclear yet whether or not they are fit to start against Salernitana.

Pioli sadly lost his brother-in-law the day of the Fiorentina match, and then Milan lost all of their friendlies but the training friendly vs. Lumezzane over the break. Now we have more injuries, too. Even though the 24 year-old Colombian goalkeeper Devis Vasquez had medicals and reportedly signed a contract with Milan on Monday, he must return home and will not be available to train with the team until January 10th. 

We need their winning mentality (and mad skills) back ASAP

Despite some excellent performances from some of our players at the World Cup, a new and much improved shirt deal with Emirates, and a change in CEO, there is a cloud over the club that seems to be impacting performances, mentality, and even perhaps injuries. We can only hope that the return of some of those successful players from the World Cup will chase that cloud away and help restore the winning mentality. Ideally it will return in the dreaded lunch timeslot against Salernitana and then every match after that. Because we don't have time for anything less than a win anymore this season. Ready or not, Milan will be playing every three days now. Forza Milan!

This post inspired by the music of Cake's "The Distance"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 16
Salernitana vs. Milan
Wednesday, January 4, 2023 • 12:30 CET (6:30am EST)
This match can be streamed LIVE on Paramonut+ in the U.S.

Salernitana-Milan Preview: Ready or Not Salernitana-Milan Preview: Ready or Not Reviewed by Elaine on 1:00 AM Rating: 5
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