Milan-Verona Preview: A Little Respect

After a week of vicious, brutal, and toxic commentary from the Italian media and fans on social media, Milan hope to gain some respect again when they host Hellas Verona at the San Siro. But even if the team are able to get back to winning ways on the pitch, the Club have set up a much needed, yet potentially controversial scenario as they have scheduled to debut the new third kits, particularly in front of the Verona fans. These are not just football kits, they are meant to be "a symbol of inclusion, celebrating the power of diversity." This is a bold and refreshing move, something I am very proud our club is doing, even if it is for marketing purposes. It is long overdue that we give all people – players, fans, everyone – a little respect.


Milan chose an interesting fixture to introduce these inclusive new kits. Verona fans are well known for being less than accepting of diversity. There are so many examples, but after serving a partial stadium ban last spring, (which did not even address a horrific banner outside of the stadium,) they were fined €12.000 for abusing the same team and player in August. Difficult enough that at least six of Pioli's preferred starting 11 right now are players of color. I can only imagine what their fans will have to say when asked to be tolerant of people who may be female, or diverse in other ways. Although to be fair, while AC Milan has typically been very vocal against racism, they failed to support Leão when he was abused in May. And with all of the changes in club culture this summer, we have already seen Milan fans abuse opposition players this season. Clearly we need the message of these kits as bad as the world does right now.

A message of inclusion reminding us all to be a little better as humans.

The kits themselves have not been as popular with fans as the other kits this year, but there are many fans who love them. When the lavender base color was leaked, I was frightened, but they are actually very nice. The front features an artistic gradient of colors ranging from a seafoam green into aqua, then cerulean, violet, lavender, and finally the overall color, which is more of an orchid. But on closer inspection, the gradient actually contains a large subtle starburst pattern within it, which is also fabulous. The back panel at the bottom contains the blue and green tones, while the rest of the kit is the orchid color. It is the suggestion of a rainbow without the cliché of the rainbow, something fresh and fashion-forward that anyone could wear. 

The full kit is balanced nicely with the cerulean shorts and socks.

The cut is clean and simple, with a crew neck, which a shirt like this should be. The Milan crest is a single color dark pink on white, with a white star to match the white lettering on the rest of the kit. There are tiny details that link all three kits this season, like a small triangular inset at the hem on the sides, but it is the spectacular color that makes this kit so stunning. The shorts and socks are both the solid cerulean color, giving a really nice balance to the colors when seen together, while also framing the artistic kit well. And the navy goalkeeper kits are fantastic, too. There may be some who would never wear the third kit. But this kit was designed to be inclusive – to represent those whose preferences are under-represented in other more traditional kits. And it is about time.

Maignan will miss this game, but this kit is fire.

Of course, Milan and Puma created their own controversy with the prematch training track suits the team were supposed to wear with these kits. Immediately noticeable by Milan fans was that half of the training track suits were black with blue stripes, looking very much like our rivals' colors and kits. While the Curva Sud had very little to say about Cardinale sacking a club legend or selling a future bandiera as long as he bought new players, they were immediately outraged and made a public statement about these track suits, which saw them removed from the Milan shop online shortly thereafter. So perhaps the debut of these kits will be delayed until they can sort out an alternative. We will see what they wear on Saturday. Already, we witnessed that the training and travel wear for the Champions League this season is mostly blue with pink, seemingly an extension of the palette of this kit. But far too much Inter blue for my taste.

Inclusion is one thing, but this is definitely not okay. Snakes are not humans.

Speaking of blue... and yellow, Verona come into this match in ninth place on the table, with two wins, a draw, and a loss thus far. However, one of those wins was a shock 2-1 win over Roma when Verona were on ten men, so we cannot approach this match lightly. Their last match was on Monday, a 0-0 draw with Bologna at the Bentegodi. For that match, Baroni lined up Montipò; Magnani, Hien, Dawidowicz; Faraoni, Folorunsho, Hongla, Doig; Ngonge, Duda,; and Bonazzoli. Unfortunately, Doig was injured in that match, and will not be available for this  match. Baroni will also be missing Braaf, Thomas Henry, and Tchatchoua to injury. Folorunsho, who was also injured on Monday, has recovered and should be available.

Duda and Ngonge making names for themselves early in the season.

Milan's big injury news is, of course, Maignan. However, tests ruled out any muscle lesions on his thigh, and he is expected back soon. He will not be available for Saturday's match, but will be replaced by the capable Sportiello. Kalulu is also still out with his muscle injury, and obviously, we are still missing Bennacer. Beyond that, there is much speculation about Pioli's starting 11 for this match. Rumors have been circulating that he may rest Krunić, replacing him with Reijnders, something he reportedly tried in training on Thursday. He may also pull in Musah to the starting lineup for the first time as well.

Musah made his Champions League debut on Tuesday and may see more playing time soon.

Loftus-Cheek was subbed off on Tuesday looking injured, but it was just cramps, so he should be available, but may be rested with the crowded schedule. I would expect that Pioli might turn back to Pulisic as a starter on the right wing, but Chukwueze is always an option as well. There is also a lot of discussion about the need to give Giroud a break, which would mean either Okafor or Jović taking his place, but it is uncertain whether Pioli feels that either of them are ready to start yet. However, fear of another injury apocalypse (or fear of a narcissistic owner who spent €134 million and wants to see those players play) may see him rotate multiple players.

Loftus-Cheek, who did a meet and greet when the kit was released, should be available for this one.

Certainly Pioli is under a lot of pressure to win this one. Whether it is the "Pioli Out" crew or just his gentlemanly, understated personality in a world of screaming diva managers, Pioli has long struggled to get the respect he deserves for what he has done at Milan. In a reality where fans only read headlines or watch short clips, some of his statements after the Derby seem to have personally offended some Milan fans. But if you listen to the full interviews, his statements were both wise and fair.

Pioli is under pressure to turn Cardinale's spending spree into a team overnight.

Milan and Pioli will be looking for respect on the pitch, with a win necessary to curb the feral journalists, pundits, and fans whose sole purpose in life is to amplify a person's worst moments. In fact, they will likely also need to play well, and even then will still likely be criticized. I have no idea what it will take to get respect from Verona fans. I can only hope that stewards and cameras are ready to identify any who may display hate, and that the referees uphold the Italian Referee Associations's pledge to actually stop the match if there is racist abuse toward any of the players. As for Milan's message of inclusion and diversity, I hope that the very unusual yet impressive kits will raise awareness and help build bridges of tolerance and love in a world that is in such desperate need of these basic human traits. At the very least, we could all do with a little respect.

This post inspired by the music of Erasure's "A Little Respect"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 5
Milan vs. Hellas Verona
Saturday, September 23, 2023 • 15:00 CEST (9am 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)

Milan-Verona Preview: A Little Respect Milan-Verona Preview: A Little Respect Reviewed by Elaine on 5:00 AM Rating: 5
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