AC Milan’s players are reporting back to Milanello after the first international break of the summer as the derby against Inter Milan beckons this weekend. The international break is rarely kind to the Rossoneri as we always struggle coming back from a break and usually have some injuries to deal with. Milan players totalled 1,223 minutes over the break and Olivier Giroud came down with an injury. He is working on a personal regiment for the moment but is tipped to start the derby on Saturday. Pierre Kalulu picked up a muscle issue in training at Milan and now 34 year old Simon Kjaer is set to start after playing 100 minutes with his national team. The Rossoneri players contributed 2 goals and 2 assists as well as 3 clean sheets.
Here is a summary of what the players got up to:
Rafael Leao – Portugal – 137 minutes
He started both Euro qualifiers and was a menace down that left wing. He was part of a tight 1-0 win over Slovakia and a record breaking 9-0 win over Luxembourg. He provided 1 assist in the 9-0 win for Goncalo Ramos who will face us in the UCL with PSG. Leao is growing into the squad and getting more trust from Martinez.
Simon Kjaer – Denmark – 100 minutes
Two games to build his confidence as he features in both and Denmark had two clean sheets. They beat San Marino 4-0 and Finland 1-0. He played the full game in the former and 10 minutes in the latter. He looks strong but still slower than a year or two ago.
Rade Krunic – Bosnia – 180 minutes
A very challenging break for the midfielder and I am worried about his fitness as he was running for 180 minutes straight and will have a lot of ground to cover against Inter. Bosnia beat Liechtenstein 2-1 but lost 1-0 to Iceland in their Euro qualifiers. They are fourth in their group and each match now is practically a knock out game.
Olivier Giroud – France – 26 minutes
Giroud pulled up with an injury in the first half against Ireland and was taken off for Inter’s new striker Marcus Thuram who scored a scrappy goal in the game. France won their euro qualifier and sit top of their group.
Mike Maignan – France – 180 minutes
The keeper is setting records for saves and picks up another clean sheet in the Euro qualifiers as Ireland were beaten 2-0. France lost their friendly 2-1 as the Germans look rejuvenated under new manager Rudi Voller. Maignan made some big saves and is a clear leader in that squad.
Theo Hernandez – France – 180 minutes
He had a rather quiet international break and he seemed to be preserving his energy. He did not make too many bursting runs. As above, one win and one loss but the win was in an official game. He has played the full 180 minutes and hopefully is not fatigued.
Christian Pulisic – USA – 135 minutes
Only friendlies for the American national team as they beat Uzbekistan 3-0 and Oman 4-0. The first game was a closer than expected contest but the quality of the side showed up late. Pulisic got a goal from the penalty spot in the last minute. He played well in both games creating some chances but seemed less comfortable on the left. He showed another side as captain and put in some solid moves.
Yunus Musah – USA – 180 minutes
One of the most impressive displays of the break. He was deployed in a number of odd positions such as defensive midfielder, deep lying midfielder and a makeshift centre back. He handled all roles well and this versatility will elevate him in Pioli’s view as he can be a replacement for Tonali if he hones his defensive ability. Two wins and two clean sheets for the USMNT.
Tijjani Reijnders – Netherlands – 70 minutes
A big one for Reijnders as he made his national team debut off the bench in a 3-0 win over Greece and quickly got his second appearance for 45 minutes in a 2-1 win over Ireland. He showed the same qualities everyone loves in Milan: good pressing, solid passing and great transition play.
Samuel Chukwueze – Nigeria – 17 minutes
A short but impactful break for Chukweuze. He came on in the 73rd minutes against Sao Tome and Principe in the AFCON qualifier; he provided and assist for Osimhen after 6 minutes and scored a goal in ten minutes to cap off a 6-0 win and confirm Nigeria at the tournament in Ivory Coast in January 2024.
Noah Okafor – Switzerland – 15 minutes
He came off the bench in a 2-2 draw with Kosovo where he struggled to adjust and find space in the game. He got about 10 minutes in the second game off the bench in a 3-0 win over Andorra.
Luka Jovic – Serbia – 4 minutes
He was brought off the bench for 4 minutes in a 2-1 loss to Hungary and an unused sub in a 3-1 win over Lithuania. Nothing of note.
Malick Thiaw – Germany – 0 minutes
No minutes played which is a shame as he could have been practicing at Milanello alongside Kalulu to build some chemistry.
Fikayo Tomori – England – 0 minutes
Southgate clearly called him up out of necessity but he does not seem likely to get a chance with England despite Maguire scoring another own goal. Tomori might have been better off representing Canada.