Milan-Udinese Preview: Zombie Nightmare

November is here, Halloween is over. But not for Milan. In a nightmare that is all too familiar, Milan are missing many players to injury yet again, including serious injuries. Kalulu had surgery this week to repair a torn tendon, and the brand new Pellegrino is out with a broken foot. The good news is that we have already faced Roma, Inter, Juventus, and Napoli. The bad news is that we have to face all of the other clubs this round with yet another insane injury crisis. And history shows us that Milan tend to struggle more with the clubs who are not contenders for top four, anyway. So, while most clubs would love to be facing a relegation-threatened team at home at this point in the season, Milan have another injury apocalypse and this match could easily be yet another zombie nightmare.

Loftus-Cheek has finally been resurrected for this one, but we lost other players to injury.

Udinese come into this match just above the relegation zone, having just changed managers less than ten days ago. The club brought back Gabriele Cioffi, who had managed the club from December 2021 through May 2022, replaced by Andrea Sottil. For Cioffi's Serie A managerial debut for Udinese this season, the team played to a 1-1 draw with Monza last Saturday. They also had to play 120 minutes in the Coppa Italia second round midweek, where they were knocked out 2-1 by Cagliari, whom Milan will ironically face at the turn of the year in the Coppa Italia.

For that match, Cioffi lined up: Okoye; Ferreira, Tikivić, Guessand; Aké,  Zarraga, Etienne Camara, Lovrić, Hassane Kamara; Florian Thauvin, and Lucca. Cioffi has some injury woes as well, missing players he likely has not even met yet: Brenner, Ebosse, and Heyzibue all have had long-term injuries. Former Milan player (and still Milan fan) Deulofeu is struggling with fitness issues, as are Vivaldo, Keinan Davis, and Thomas Kristensen, and thus are doubtful for this match. He does finally have Masina back from long-term injury and will likely start a number of players who did not play 120 minutes midweek.

Cioffi returns to the Udinese bench and... those kits?!

Thiaw returns from suspension, and Pioli has resurrected Loftus-Cheek, but Pulisic and Chukwueze will not be ready until at least Tuesday. He is still missing Bennacer, Caldara, and Sportiello, and adding Kalulu and Pellegrino makes a total of seven players injured as of this writing. However, do not rule out someone getting a freak toenail injury or tripping while getting on the team bus or something, because that is just how Milan roll.

We all saw how Kalulu got injured, it was early in the match on Sunday and really unfortunate. But Pellegrino's was especially bizarre, he has a compound fracture of a bone in his left foot because of a hole in the pitch at the Stadio Maradona. That truly demonstrates Milan's nightmare luck with injuries, as the player, on his debut for Milan, having replaced the injured Kalulu, was literally injured by the pitch and had to come off as well.

Kalulu with a serious injury and surgery, we will miss him for four months.

Rather than cut Gabbia's loan to Villareal short, Milan have chosen to promote Jan-Carlo Simić from the Primavera to help fill the gap in central defense. He joins Bartesaghi, who was already promoted to the first team, and Pioli will also call up fullback Álex Jímenez once again to fill the defensive bench for this match. There has been a lot of talk about Milan looking for another center back in January (finally,) something they failed to properly address with their €134m summer spend.

Pioli is reportedly considering a change in tactics for this match to accommodate his injuries this time, but then again, that may just be wishful thinking from the press. He gave a rousing pep talk for his prematch press conference, trying to convince his players, everyone, and perhaps even himself that this squad is united and motivated. However, the disciplinary record alone proves otherwise, not to mention the public dissent of his senior players that we have seen in the past two matches. The pervasive injury problem could also be partially because of the struggling mentality and psychological issues plaguing the squad since the sudden departure of Maldini this summer, amongst other reasons. 

Pellegrino subbed on for his debut, was injured by the pitch, and subbed off with a broken foot.

Whatever the cause, the injuries are very tangible, and a nightmare that Pioli must continue to wrestle with. Udinese may be coming to the San Siro with 120 minutes in their legs midweek, but they have nothing to lose. Milan are the ones with the actual zombies, players who are literally the walking wounded, and a continued slide down the table is a potential financial horror show for the Club. For fans, it is a painful recurring nightmare, one we would much rather be able to wake up from for once. Particularly after Cardinale's promises of success after spending so much this summer. But instead, we have to brace ourselves for yet another potential zombie nightmare.

This post inspired by the music of The Cranberries' "Zombie"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 11
Milan vs. Udinese
Saturday, November 4, 2023 • 20:45 CET (3:45pm EDT*)
*Note the time difference due to Daylight Savings already ended in Europe.
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-Udinese Preview: Zombie Nightmare Milan-Udinese Preview: Zombie Nightmare Reviewed by Elaine on 8:30 PM Rating: 5
Powered by Blogger.