Milan-Bologna Preview: Auditions

Saturday night, Milan host Bologna at the San Siro, the return match of our first game of the season. Milan started off the season in stunning form, winning that match away to Bologna 2-0. So much has happened since then, with Pioli's position repeatedly coming into question. Meanwhile, Bologna's manager (and former Inter player) Thiago Motta is one of the people heavily linked as a potential replacement should the Club part ways with Pioli. So you could argue that this match allows them both to show what they can do, with the result being like some form of auditons.

Auditions for consistency and mentality will take place on Saturday at San Siro.

The managers are not the only ones being looked at in this match. Milan-owned Saelemaekers, on loan at Bologna, would undoubtedly love to remind Milan what he is capable of. Unfortunately, he has been training separately this week and may or may not be called up. Another player potentially auditioning is the exciting young Zirkzee, Bologna's top scorer this season. He has caught the attention of a number of clubs, but reports say that the player would be interested in a move to Milan. While that definitely does not seem to be realistic in these final days of this transfer window, many Milan fans have expressed approval of a future move from the Rossoblu to the Rossoneri for Zirkzee.

Saelemaekers likely won't be fit to audition, but many fans are calling for ex-Inter Motta to audition for Milan.

Bologna come into this match in seventh place, 13 points below Milan on the table. Due to the scheduling of their opponents playing in the Supercoppa last week, their week 21 match was actually postponed, so their last Serie A match was a 2-1 loss to Cagliari almost two weeks ago. For that match, Motta lined up: Skorupski; Posch, Lucumi, Calafiori, Kristiansen; Ferguson, Freuler; Orsolini, Aebischer, Urbanski; and van Hooijdonk. Zirkzee was suspended for that match, but will be welcomed back for this one. Bologna will be missing El Azzouzi, who is at AFCON, as well as Soumaoro and Ndoye to injury, with the aforementioned Saelemaekers in doubt.

Pioli is potentially down to only seven players missing this week. Chukwueze is still with Nigeria at AFCON, and while Bennacer has returned after Algeria's shock elimination, he was returned with a muscle contracture (hardened muscle,) so will miss at least this match. Other absentees are all due to injury: Caldara, Kalulu, Tomori, Thiaw, and Pobega. Pellegrino did play with the Primavera last week, so is returning from his injury. Whether Pioli calls him up for the first team this week or not remains to be seen as of this writing.

Theo, Kjaer, Adli, and Giroud intimidate opponents with their secret conferences on set pieces.

Whereas Bologna have gone five Serie A matches without a win, a win for Milan on Saturday would make five straight wins in Serie A, after their dreadful 2-2 draw to Salernitana just before Christmas. Being able to string together that many wins would be considered a successful audition this round for Pioli, who celebrated a landmark 100th win out of 166 Serie A matches last week. Which is great timing for an improvement in mentality, considering that we have a couple of Europa League matches coming up next month. While players made statements of support when he was under criticism, people seem to take them more seriously when things are going well. 

Pioli reportedly does not need to audition for the rest of this season, but a manager's job is never certain.

Pioli was right from the beginning, though. He warned that changing so many players would require time to gel, and even with some good results, the mentality was just not there yet when catastrophic injuries hit and the team were playing every three days in the Champions League. Unfortunately, the shortsightedness of this management did cost Milan the Champions League, and perhaps the Coppa Italia, too. But the goals are flowing now, the new players definitely seem to be acclimated, and with some help from Abate's Army, we may be seeing some improvement on this season's particular injury problem, as we discussed on the last podcast. The upcoming weeks will test the theory, but Milan stand a chance to finish the second half of this season strong. But matches like this are the auditions.

This post inspired by the music of Billie Eilish's "What Was I Made For?"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 22
Milan vs. Bologna
Saturday, January 27, 2024 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm 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)

Milan-Bologna Preview: Auditions Milan-Bologna Preview: Auditions Reviewed by Elaine on 4:00 AM Rating: 5
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