After spending the first half of the season at the top of Serie A, AC Milan sees themselves only four points away from fifth place with nine games remaining.
Since the start of the new year, Milan has only managed 8 wins in their last 15 games, averaging 1.73 points per game. Before the new year, Milan was at the top of the table averaging 2.43 points per game. This continued dip in form, especially with their home record, has become a worry to both Rossoneri fans and a dent at any title hopes for the club. With other clubs such as Napoli, Lazio, and Roma catching up to Milan in the standings, coach Stefano Pioli will need to find consistency in his team if Milan wants to secure a Champions League spot.
The draw against Sampdoria was a perfect example of the team’s recent struggles. Pioli’s decided to start Saelemaekers at right-back, instead of Kalulu, and fielded Krunic and Castillejo on the wings whilst having Hauge and Rebic on the bench. Pioli may know the condition of his players the best, but his gamble in the starting eleven did not pay off with Saelemaekers, Castillejo, and Krunic all having poor performances. Luckily, Milan was saved by Hauge’s equalizer and avoided what would have been a very embarrassing loss.
We previously discussed how a change in formation would be the most effective solution to Milan’s current problems, yet it seems very unlikely that Pioli will change his system this late in the season. With that being said, the only solution is for Pioli to solve his selection dilemma, specifically with his wingers and full-backs. Krunic, who is a natural midfielder, has proved time after time that he is incapable of playing as a winger. Hauge, who was decisive in the last match, should be given the chance to start more games, or at least have more minutes. Hauge should be the preferred choice at left-wing until Rebic or Leao return. As for the right side, Kalulu and Dalot should be the preferred options at right-back and Saelemaekers should be selected over Castillejo, who has arguably been one of Milan’s worse players this season.
While these suggestions may help Milan temporarily, it is obvious that Pioli has some serious work to do ahead of next season if he is to stay as Milan’s coach. #PioliOut has resurfaced on social media, but regardless of what the future may hold for Stefan Pioli, Milan fans should stick by their coach and team for the rest of the season and help motivate them to secure a top-four finish.