Milan Thump Monza But It’s Pyrrhic Victory

In terms of result, a 3-0 demolition of Monza was just what the doctor ordered for Milan. After a demoralizing 3-2 defeat at Atalanta last weekend, Stefano Pioli’s side needed every encouragement they could get to return to the Scudetto picture. 

Beating Monza was imperative for Milan, especially after Juventus’ 1-1 draw at Genoa on Friday offered Rossoneri a chance to close the gap to the top two. With Olivier Giroud leading the line and Rafael Leao back from injury, everyone expected Pioli’s formidable duo to take the central stage.

However, a collective team effort inspired Milan to their biggest-margin win of the 2023/24 Serie A campaign. Instead of relying on individuals, the 19-time Italian champions Pioli’s side moved as a unit as they dismantled Monza to soar within a five-point distance of second-placed Juventus. 


Tijjani Reijnders opened the scoring with his second Serie A goal of the season with a brilliant solo goal. But the highlight of today’s triumph came on the stroke of halftime. Leao’s burst of pace was too much for his markers as the Portuguese ace chipped in with an assist to the highly-rated teenager Jan-Carlo Simic. 

What better way to mark his senior debut for Milan than to score only 20 minutes upon his introduction? At 18 years and 229 days, the versatile defender became Rossoneri’s third-youngest goal-getter in Serie A. Noah Okafor slotted home a delightful finish after an intricate build-up play to cap off a commanding win. 

Up-and-coming left-back Davide Bartesaghi made another top-flight appearance, while Ismael Bennacer completed another late came after overcoming a long-term injury. But while there were plenty of positives, today’s win came at a hefty price as Milan suffered two fresh injury concerns.


Simic’s dream Serie A debut was the consequence of Tommaso Pobega succumbing to injury. The Italian midfielder’s muscle problem forced him off only 24 minutes into the game, adding to Pioli’s selection problems. While the Milan boss has plenty of options in the engine room, things look ominous at the back.

Malick Thiaw is out for two months after picking up an injury against Borussia Dortmund. Pierre Kalulu won’t return to action until March 2024, while Marco Pellegrino and Mattia Caldara could rejoin the fold by the end of the month. And now, Simon Kjaer moves back to the treatment room.

The veteran defender delivered an impressive performance on his highly-anticipated return to the starting XI. But midway through the second half, he asked for a substitution after seemingly renewing his muscle issue, leaving Pioli with Fikayo Tomori as the only reliable center-back. 

It probably means Milan will turn to Simic for their trip to Salernitana next week unless Pioli decides to use Theo Hernandez as a makeshift center-half again. With Davide Calabria returning from suspension, that’s a realistic possibility.

Last but not least, Okafor fell to the ground in pain only moments after taking his Serie A tally to three goals. He was on the sidelines for a month before coming on as a second-half substitute against Newcastle United on Wednesday. Based on the nature of his injury, it’s hard to tell whether he’ll feature for Milan again in 2023.

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