AC Milan 0-3 Inter: Five things we learned – fatigue and poor defending

By Ivan Stoev -

Milan were presented with the chance to turn things around in the Suppercoppa Italiana final against Inter. However, they failed miserably losing 3-0 to their city rivals in what was an embarrassing display by Stefano Pioli’s men.

The first half was horribly managed by the Rossoneri as they conceded after just 10 minutes, following a collective error that allowed Inter to score easily through Federico Dimarco. Ten minutes later, Milan’s defence was in shambles once again as Edin Dzeko got his goal to double Inter’s lead and make the task even harder for their city rivals.

In the second half, we can say that Milan looked a bit more lively as they managed to get a few shots off and actually pressure, but that was after Inter got their goals and were comfortable sitting back, allowing their opponents to attack. And the Nerazzurri did well to defend as most of Milan’s shots were from distance and not at all threatening.

The nightmare continued in the 77th minute when Fikayo Tomori forgot how to defend against Lautaro Martinez, who made it 3-0. Here are five things we learned…

1. Tomori and Kalulu need a timeout

Tomori had a drop in form in the second half of 2022, but has gone from bad to worse in 2023 as Milan’s defence has been letting easy goals every game of the year.

The Englishman, in particular, was just not up for it against Inter and was horrific on the third goal where he just allowed Lautaro to do whatever he wished.

Kalulu came off the bench this time around and didn’t commit any crucial mistakes, but he couldn’t help the team either. But more importantly, he too has had a dip in form and it might be time for the duo to sit on the bench for a bit.

2. Kjaer not the answer

The Dane was in the starting XI in an attempt by Pioli to bring some stability into the defence, but Kjaer was at fault for the initial goal and excluding a crucial block on Lautaro did little to help his team react in any meaningful way.

It’s also important to note that the centre-back has been injured for a long period of time and starting him came with a risk even before the game had started. Unfortunately for Pioli, the gamble did not work out.

So it might be time to see a bit more from Matteo Gabbia, who had an excellent run of games prior to the World Cup and there is no obvious reason not to play him more at this point in time.

3. French fatigue

Theo Hernandez and Olivier Giroud were brilliant for France at the World Cup, but the fatigue is now obvious, especially for the striker.

At 36 years of age, Giroud should not be playing every game, especially since he played pretty much every game at the World Cup for France. It’s beyond obvious that the Frenchman needs a rest, but Divock Origi doesn’t seem to be up for the task whilst Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still recovering from injury.

Hernandez doesn’t seem as tired as we saw some good runs from him and he wasn’t particularly at fault on the goals, but he has been missing that killer instinct lately and it doesn’t help that Rafael Leao has also had a dip in his form after the World Cup.

With the management not reacting on the transfer market, it seems it will be a tough couple of months for Pioli.

4. Toothless attack

There are so many negatives to draw from this game, but let’s discuss the attack. Excluding a couple of good individual moments by Leao that lead to nothing in particular, Milan’s attack was just slow and lacked ideas.

We already said that Giroud just seems tired, but Junior Messias didn’t do much better on the right either. Brahim Diaz was also missing excluding a couple of nice turns that in typical fashion for him led to nothing, as his decision-making in the final third let him down.

There weren’t any solutions off the bench either and Pioli will need to get into the head of his players and bring back the fluidity if he doesn’t want the situations to get worse.

5. Horrendous squad depth

Milan signed quite a few youngsters last summer that were meant to show their potential and help the team grow. Well, that plan has failed miserably as none of the signings have been of any use to Pioli with the marquee signing that cost the club north of €30m – Charles De Ketelaere – still yet to prove himself or even contribute at all.

And the management has to take responsibility here, because Pioli did an unlikely job by winning the Scudetto with a young and raw team. And to replace a key player such as Franck Kessie, who left for free, the youngsters were clearly never going to be up to the task for this season.

The ball is in Gerry Cardinale’s court and he needs to react.

Tags AC Milan Inter supercoppa italiana


  1. We learned nothing.

    We’re gonna continue to struggle, and maybe, just maybe, if we are incredibly lucky, through no fault of our own, we qualify for UCL.

  2. I hate that we have to bring up Kessie in discussions after all time. The coach has failed to realise that Kessie era has ended, I don’t see the reason for double pivot anymore as it’s clearly not working. A simple change in formation and tactics would give us a while lot of good runs. But I guess the coach is past his dept right now

    1. Exactly. It makes zero sense to try to transform e.g. Pobega into Kessie as every player has different characteristics and it’s the coaches job to exploit them the best possible way. That’s not happening in Milan as Pioli tries to cling on to old tactics with unsuitable players.

  3. Everyone just talks about this summer.
    Look at last summer as well. Milan is paying today, for the bad Mercato last season too.
    In:Bakayoko, Ballo Toure, Messias, Florenzi, Pellegri, Giroud, Maignan, Tatarusanu.
    Outside of Giroud and Maignan( last season), Milan got only useless players, below average players or injuy prone players in the summer of 2021.
    When you add that to the summer 2022 group of , Pobega, CDK, Adli, Thiaw, Vranckx, Origi, Dest, and you understand why Milan is in the current situation.

    1. Whatever about last summer, are you seriously criticising the signings in previous season where we actually won the title???

      What would have happened if we’d had YOUR preferred transfers?

      Would we have really, really won the title with extra cherry on top?

      As to last summer, well, that is in the past.

      And the difference between dwelling on the title win from the past and the transfers from the past is the title win gives us a basis for overcoming the challenges we are currently facing whereas dwelling on past transfer markets does not.

      It is (it shouldn’t be) a controversial statement to say that this Milan team is capable of winning the title on the basis that well this Milan team are the defending champions (and also happen to have nearly the same number of points as last season).

      But that statement blows people’s minds. It invites ridicule. It would be considered more realistic if I were to engage in a fantasy about what players we should have signed last summer…

      That therein lies the problem of the internet. It encourages people to live in fantasy.

      1. @Maldini Heir teams are built thru transfers. Those players from last summer transfer window didn’t provide much of production in the last season title win either.
        Maldini and management are judged by the transfers they have done, not by what fans wished to be done.
        Look at those names again.
        Last season title was A MIRACLE. Miracles don’t happen every year to the same team.
        Last summer transfer window is not in the PAST because those players ARE STILL ON THE TEAM.
        So the players from last season and this season summer transfer windows composed something that is called PRESENT. They are majority of our squad. So it isn’t dwelling on the past.
        You are right about the internet. Some people believe in fantasy that just because a team won a title miraculously one year they will do it again the following year with worse players.

  4. Pioli should only adapted his tactics. When playing strong teams, do defending and counter attack.

    Just see what Juventus did in last 12 or 15 games.

    You use players on best possible ways.

    And of course. You must rotate. If you have Lazetic, use him. Bring primavera players like Juventus did when many players are injured.

  5. Its like Pioli cant change formations because he is scared or something!Other coachs all around the World look at their teams and see if i dont have x player to play z formation efficiently they change to formation x but pioli keeps playing the same formation even if its not working!Has much has i am gratefull for what he has done with the team maybe its time to look for a coach with more ideias then pioli its clear that with him we cant reach the next step!

  6. Gabbia has been our best defender this year. He should play so he can grow. If he can get better from where he’s at now and grow with some experience he can 100% get good enough to be a long term starter. People knock him for speed but defending isn’t all about speed. Plus if he’s next to either Tomori or Kalulu (or both) there’s your speed.

    This game though is a microcosm of the 2 major issues facing the club.

    1 – Management (Cardinale is a showman who touts celebrities this and that and not my idea of who I want here unfortunately, and Elliot was also poor even if we won the scudetto. We just got by with some great motivation and performances and the charisma of Ib). Also we struggle to renew important assets every year and make poor signings more often than not.

    2 – Pioli’s very limited tactics and team organization. It’s been obvious for seasons now that the 4231 is not the way to get the best out of the players we have but he’s too scared to change anything.

  7. I think this team has come as far as they can go with Pioli. He did a fantastic job turning this team around and winning the Scudetto last season and nobody can take that away. But he has never had any ideas offensively. This team relied on a strong defense conceding very few goals and creating some chances off of their pressing. They won a lot of 1-0 games last season on their way to the title. Usually of some individual moments of brilliance from a few players, but this teamhas never really been able to break teams down. Their movement off the ball is non-existent, their passing is terrible. Now that the defense is leaky and the press is not what it was, those 1-0 games are just not going to happen and the offense has no answers. Everybody shooting the ball from 20 yards out is the best they can come up with? This falls on the manager.
    I feel for Pioli because he deserves to have a better squad at his disposal and the squad is getting weaker year after year, and that falls on Maldini and management/ownership. It’s bordering on incompetence to let your most valuable players leave for free time and time again, and then just plain arrogance to think that you don’t need to replace them. Still haven’t replaced Calhanoglu from 2 seasons ago. Kessie was such a huge part of what this team does and the way Pioli wants to play, they should have locked him up much sooner, and then to think that they would be just fine with Tonali and Bennacer, that they did’nt even need to find a good replacement for Kessie, this season has shown how foolish that was. The signings they have mad have been a total disaster, the team has no depth at any position. They cannot rest anyone without a huge drop in quality.
    All that being said, there is no excuse for the extremely poor performances to the likes of Lecce, Cremonese and Torino. Pioli is no longer on fire.

  8. I think the issue is basically about our weakness – which is: our defense tactics. Our opponents take advantage of the absence of our full backs when on counter.
    They pick the back and send wide because they know our full backs must be away in the front leaving only the cbs who sometimes are also in midfield.
    Pioli really needs to fund a way to counter this loophole and it has been since the Chelsea game. And very many teams (Leece, Inter etc)are exploring that to our weakness.
    Either to find a way to cut of the supply or ensure the defense is aware of the wings. Most points (if not all) lost this year come from the wings.

    1. Have a strong midfield tactic to cut supply
    2. A more defensive awareness tactic that will keep wing attacks (opponents) at bay.
    3. Our goalie has so much to do in defensive coordination. And I think we should start trying the new guy (Vasquez) out.

    Our attack is still strong and can still achieve some results (not denying the fact that we can still improve) but conceding avoidable goals kills morale. Worst is when we conceded first.

  9. Even coaches that win champions league do get sacked too. Also, the sporting director and others. My beef with the coach is that he practically incapable of change, not flexible. Football has changed beyond having a particular formation and game plan set that you use all the time. With lots of smart managers and players out there, Milan will continue to wallow, and ultimately not qualifying for champions league next season. Watch great and winning coaches how they set up and prepare for matches individually. Don’t tell me you will use same pattern to play spezia, and then same pattern to play Chelsea or inter. Let get the truth out

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