Bologna vs. Milan Preview: Season of Change

The new season is finally here, and it kicks off Monday night with an away trip to Bologna. This summer was marked by significant changes, and while Furlani insisted that this is not a Year Zero, it was bare minimum a complete revolution. Beginning with the sacking of Maldini and Massara as well as a reorganization of the sporting sector, then the controversial decision to sell Sandro Tonali, then there were also seven players whose contracts were up as of June 30th. Furlani went deep in the transfer market, spending well over €100 million to replace the players who left, and there have been other players who have left or gone on loan as well. As if that were not enough change, Pioli also changed tactics to meet the needs of the players he had available to him. Which means that this season will be a season of change, to say the least. 

A lot of new faces in the squad, but more faces missing.

Bologna made some changes this summer, but are still managed by former Inter player Thiago Motta, who exceeded expectations last summer by leading i Rossoblu to a ninth place finish in Serie A. They managed to hang onto their top scorer thus far, Orsolini, even if Arnautović returned for another loan spell at Inter just this week. However, Bologna did sign a new right winter, Dan Ndoye from Basel in the Swiss Super League, as well as a new center back, Sam Beukema, from AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch Eredivisie as their top signings this summer.

Motta already has a competitive win under his belt this season, as Bologna began their Coppa Italia campaign with a 2-0 win over Cesena last week. for that match, Motta lined up: Skorupski; Posch, Beukema, Bonifazi, Corazza; Ferguson, Dominguez, Aebischer, Pyyhtia, Arnautović, and Moro. Orsolini missed that match with a thigh injury, but is expected to be available on Monday night as of this writing. Motta will be without Soumaoro and Musa Barrow for our match, as they are both out with injuries. 

Motta himself was linked with a move to that rich French club this summer.

With nearly two weeks left in the transfer market, there may still be more changes to Milan's squad, but here are the changes to the first team as of this writing:


Brahim Díaz (loan ended)
Sergiño Dest (loan ended)
Aster Vranckx (loan ended)
Tiémoué Bakayoko (loan ended)
Ciprian Tatarusanu (contract ended)
Sandro Tonali (sold to Newcastle for blood money)
Matteo Gabbia (on loan to Villareal for the season)
Ante Rebić (free transfer to Besiktas)
Andreas Jungdal (free transfer to Cremonese)
Junior Messias (loan to Genoa with obligation to buy)
Charles De Ketelaere (loan to Atalanta with option to buy)

And with just two moves, the heart and soul of the AC Milan culture is gone.


Marco Sportiello (signed from Atalanta)
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (signed from Chelsea)
Luka Romero (signed from Lazio)
Antonio Mirante (renewed after contract ended)
Christian Pulisic (signed from Chelsea)
Tijjani Reijnders (signed from AZ Alkmaar)
Noah Okafor (signed from Red Bull Salzburg)
Samuel Chukwueze (signed from Villareal)
Yunus Musah (signed from Valencia)

In Limbo:

Lorenzo Colombo (back from loan, linked to a new loan to Monza)
Mattia Caldara (back from loan, no one else wants him)
Marko Lazetić (reportedly agreed to a loan deal with Dutch side Fortuna Sittard)
Emil Roback (back from loan... staying?)
Alexis Saelemaekers (rumored to be leaving)
Divock Origi (refusing all offers to leave, but did not travel to the U.S.)

Krunić looks off into the distance, perhaps toward Fenerbahçe?

As you can see from the above lists, more than one-third of the squad has changed this summer. That is a lot, for any team, let alone a Milan side that was struggling last season. Most importantly, the loss of Tonali will be felt, particularly back-to-back with the loss of Kessié the previous season and the absence of Bennacer for the first half of this season as he recovers. In attack, we have lots of shiny new players, but if you look closer, maybe Furlani was a bit hasty in his shopping. 

We still have not replaced Gabbia or Tonali, but he bought two more attacking-minded midfielders in Reijnders and Loftus-Cheek. We finally got the right winger we were hoping for in Chukwueze, but he also spent another €38 million on Pulisic and Okafor, who now look more likely to be bench players. So we definitely have more depth in attack, which is nice, barring backup for Giroud still. But we are sorely lacking even in our starting lineup as for a central defensive midfielder, as well as depth at center back. So we will definitely concede goals. But that is very literally the price you pay when you spend all of your cash on the attack.

Shiny new players in attack, but will they play yet?

But ready or not, these are the players we have to face Bologna. Pioli is obviously playing a 4-3-3, and Musah is suspended for this match, as he was sent off in his last match for Valencia last season. Bennacer is our only injury at this point, so Pioli will have a full squad at his disposal otherwise.

In our match against Novara, Pioli started: Maignan; Kalulu, Thiaw, Tomori, Theo Hernández; Loftus-Cheek, Krunić, Reijnders, Pulisic, Giroud, and Leão. The questions are mainly on the right, as Calabria is likely to start ahead of Kalulu. Then it will be a matter of how well Chukwueze has done in training. Pulisic has done well in all of the friendlies, and you have to think he will start, at least for a while, but it seems like only a matter of time before Chukwueze replaces him as the starter on the right wing.

Having a healthy Maignan in goal is... almost like a new signing.

Whomever Pioli starts, a lot of fans are very confident about these signings. But they fail to see the holes left in the squad by inadequate planning. Also, Motta's side were quite good last season, and they have a lot more consistency going for them, as well as the home advantage. So even if Milan wear the amazing white away kits (which they may not, as Bologna typically wear white shorts,) fans may get a rude awakening if they are not prepared for this season of change.

This post inspired by the music of David Bowie's "Changes"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 1
Bologna vs. Milan
Monday, August 21, 2023 • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)
In the U.S., you can use a VPN to access a Serie A provider elsewhere
For example, sign up for BeIn Sports in Australia or SuperSport in South Africa,
they both use the World Feed commentary for Serie A, which is fantastic
(and they also do not sponsor Inter's kits)

Bologna vs. Milan Preview: Season of Change Bologna vs. Milan Preview: Season of Change Reviewed by Elaine on 3:15 AM Rating: 5
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