Milan-Lecce Preview: The Afternoon Shift

Ahead of our Europa League Quarterfinal clash next week, Milan have an afternoon match on Saturday against 13th place Lecce. With our recent form, this might seem like a formality, but we have seen the danger in complacency, or underestimating opponents in the lower half of the table. Not only that, but Lecce are sitting at the top of seven teams all within five points of one another battling to avoid two of the three relegation spots. Meaning they are desperate for points. So this match could go either way – Milan could enhance their mentality by winning yet another match, or Lecce could cause us to drop points as they battle for their Serie A lives. It is unlikely to be just another afternoon shift.

Hopefully Maignan is ready to put in another brilliant shift like last week's.

Nothing is more dangerous than a team fighting for survival. Lecce surprised us with a chaotic 2-2 draw when we also played them on a Saturday afternoon back in November. But more recently, D'Aversa was sacked less than three weeks ago for headbutting an opposing player, and Luca Gotti, Sarri's former assistant at Chelsea, brought in to replace him. Lecce gained a point when they played a valiant 0-0 draw with our Europa League opponents, Roma, on Monday. For that match, Gotti lined up: Falcone; Gendrey, Pongračić, Baschirotto, Gallo; Almqvist, Blin, Ramadani, Dorgu; Krstović, and Piccoli. Gotti will be missing Mohamed Kaba to injury, but should otherwise have a full squad as of this writing.

One man's violence is another man's job, apparently.

Pioli will be missing Loftus-Cheek to suspension due to card accumulation after being shown a late card in our Fiorentina match last week. He will also be missing Kalulu and Pobega to injury still. While reports say that Pobega could possibly join the team for training again and perhaps even play a match with the Primavera as early as next week, he will not be available yet for this match. Kjaer recovered and returned to training on Thursday, while Bennacer and Jović, who had apparently suffered from flu symptoms during the week, have also recovered and will be available for Pioli. 

The big question is how Pioli approaches his squad for this match. With a full week's rest and our next match not until Thursday next week, will he start his strongest 11, kill off the match, and then possibly rotate some players to give them some rest? Or will he do his typical Pioli rotation fail and rotate too many players to start, have the team dig themselves into a hole, and sub on the starters too late to salvage all three points? The way Milan have been playing lately, I would hope that he could actually start less than his strongest 11 and still get the win, but Lecce do need a result.

Some rumors say that Adli could possibly play a more advanced role in place of the suspended Loftus-Cheek.

Playing at the San Siro, and with a squad that is arguably much stronger than Lecce's, there should be no excuse for anything less than a positive result for Milan in this match. However, if all matches ended based on their presumed outcome on paper, we would not need to play the game. Anything can happen in 90 minutes, and Milan have proven that plenty of times this season. So let's hope that Pioli and everyone show up for work on Saturday and don't act too casually about the afternoon shift.

This post inspired by the music of She Wants Revenge's "These Things"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 31
Milan vs. Lecce
Saturday, April 6, 2024 • 15:00 CET (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-Lecce Preview: The Afternoon Shift Milan-Lecce Preview: The Afternoon Shift Reviewed by Elaine on 4:00 AM Rating: 5
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