Coppa Italia Round of 16 • Milan-Cagliari Preview: The Milan Way

We are in a new year, and Milan are joining a new competition for this season – the illustrious Coppa Italia. Normally, facing a team that is 18th in the league would mean that this would be an easy win. But that is not the Milan Way. The Milan Way is having a third of our players out injured, fielding a team with a wage bill that is three times the wage bill of our opposition, and making it a difficult match. Ideally, if we are really being true to ourselves, we at least go to added extra time and penalties, if not get knocked out completely. Especially because Inter were knocked out last week and we have the chance to make them look even worse, but we won't take that chance. That is the Milan Way.

Milan's fans don't deserve them if they cannot appreciate them.

The legendary Claudio Ranieri, who infamously won the Premier League with Leicester City of all clubs, has masterfully guided Cagliari to an 18th spot in Serie A, where they currently sit. Do not be deceived, however. They defeated both Palermo and Udinese in the Coppa Italia to get to the Round of 16. However, they were unable to pull off anything more than a 0-0 draw with Empoli on Saturday. For that match, Ranieri lined up: Scuffet; Zappa, Goldaniga, Dossena, Azzi; Prati; Sulemana, Deiola; Viola; the iconic former Milan number nine Gianluca Lapadula, and Pavoletti. Ranieri has a few players missing to injury as of this writing, namely Nahitian Nández, Marko Rog, Shomurodov, and Desogus. He will also be without Luvumbo, who will be participating in AFCON.

Ranieri and Lapadula. Two legends, one photo.

Pioli also had to say goodbye to Bennacer, who has already left for AFCON. Milan was able to get special permission from Nigeria to keep Chukwueze for this match and allow him to travel home on Wednesday for the tournament. As for the list of Milan injuries, it includes: Sportiello, Kalulu, Thiaw, Caldara, Pellegrino, Pobega, Okafor, and Musah. With Bennacer, that makes nine players missing. 

The media are reporting that Pioli will likely be using a number of Primavera players for this match. This includes a potential debut and start for Alex Jiménez, a start for Simić and perhaps even a start for Chaka Traoré to give Leão a rest. Meanwhile, Gabbia was reported to have returned to Milano last night, cutting his loan deal to Villareal short due to the crisis at center back. He will have to complete all of the necessary paperwork, and therefore will not be available for this match, but has been playing regularly in Spain and should be available to Pioli from Wednesday on. 

Time to make the most of those Primavera players... before we injure all of them, too.

Honestly, I just hope that fans behave themselves. Some Milan fans whistled and booed Leão on Saturday, Milan's best player, for only scoring an offside goal in a match that solidified (checks table) our third place position on the table. I can't even. But Cagliari has some notoriously racist fans, so I hope they all stay home. Who can forget when we played there on the "Keep Racism Out" weekend in Serie A and they racially abused Maignan and Tomori? We no longer have Maldini to help sort that kind of thing all out, either.

I truly hope that Milan surprise me and pull off a win to start 2024 off right, unlike the debacle that was last year. But I have had my heart broken too many times, so I am not getting my hopes up. With so many players out injured, having just played on Saturday, and another early game this Saturday, it just seems too good to be true to hope they would win two matches in a row with such a beleaguered squad. That is simply not the Milan Way.

This post inspired by the music of Garbage's "Not My Idea"

Our next match is 
Coppa Italia Round of 16
Milan vs. Cagliari
Tuesday, January 2 • 21:00 CET (3pm EST)
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)

Coppa Italia Round of 16 • Milan-Cagliari Preview: The Milan Way Coppa Italia Round of 16 • Milan-Cagliari Preview: The Milan Way Reviewed by Elaine on 12:02 AM Rating: 5
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