Pioli’s risky rotations backfire as AC Milan hit another setback in Champions League qualification chase

Still with a lot of work to do to qualify for next season's Champions League, AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli is clearly prioritising this season's European campaign and his decisions backfired at Bologna on Matchday 30.

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Excessive squad rotation from AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli hindered his team’s hopes of earning a victory on Serie A Matchday 30, with the Rossoneri stumbling to a 1-1 draw away at Bologna despite not being in a position where slips can be afforded.

Given that the Italian giants had played Napoli in the Champions League quarter-finals four days earlier and have to face them again in the second leg just days after the trip to Emilia-Romagna, Pioli clearly wanted to have fresh legs for the European tie.

An early Nicola Sansone goal from close range was cancelled out by a sensational long-range shot from Tommaso Pobega minutes before half-time, but there were no goals in the second half.

Bologna’s Nicola Sansone celebrates scoring against Mike Maignan and AC Milan. (@BolognaFC1909en)

Pioli’s priority clearly this season’s European adventure

Pioli made as many as 10 changes to his starting line-up from the 1-0 victory against Napoli in the Champions League on Wednesday evening, and it was clear from the start that overhauling the team would backfire.

The Rossoneri worked laboriously for an equaliser, which Pobega scored after a poor clearance from the Felsinei defence, and despite throwing the likes of Rafael Leao and Brahim Diaz onto the pitch in the second half, they lacked the guile to break down the Bologna defence.

Pioli will hope for his sake that resting his best players will pay off and that they secure their passage into the Champions League semi-finals this Tuesday.

Giroud, Theo Hernandez and AC Milan players react to a disappointment. (Photo: AC Milan)

Posch influential on the right flank for Bologna

It might not have been a vintage performance overall from Bologna right-back Stefan Posch, but he was directly involved in another goal for the Rossoblu in the draw against AC Milan.

The 25-year-old provided the cross from the right side for Sansone to open the scoring and it was his second assist for the 2022/23 Serie A season. In his first season in Italy, he has also scored five league goals.

Pioli’s decision to rest Theo Hernandez might have given Posch a greater test, but the Austrian still deserves credit for his assist, and adding an extra dimension to how Bologna play.

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