AC Milan 0-3 Inter: Five things we learned – strengths become weaknesses; mercato priority

By Ivan Stoev -

After a tough defeat against Spezia, Milan had the difficult task of winning against Inter in order to reclaim top spot in the table. However, the Rossoneri ended up losing yet again, failing to score for the second game in a row.

The game itself started off in the worst possible way as Inter took the lead just five minutes in. Milan were the struggling side in the first half hour without any concrete idea when on the ball. The Rossoneri finally found some space and created a few chances towards the end of the second half and continued to push after the break, but heroics from Handanovic kept Inter in front.

Unfortunately, Inter seemed to have sealed to win after the second goal in the 55th minute as Milan suffered badly on the counter-attack, before Lukaku added a third. That leaves Pioli’s side in second place, four points behind Inter and only six points above fifth place.

Here are five things we learned from the game…

1. From strength to weakness 

It’s been a hell of a ride since Stefano Pioli has become head coach of AC Milan. With a wonderful 2020 behind our back, now the team has struggled a bit in the past couple of weeks.

Surprisingly, the fall come after the Rossoneri recovered most of the injured players they had. Against all odds, the team kept on winning when the likes of Kjaer, Bennacer, Rebic, Ibrahimovic and Calhanoglu were missing and now when it seemed as everyone is back for the final part of the season things have started collapsing a bit.

Now, a player that hasn’t really impressed at all this season is Alessio Romagnoli. In contrast a player that has impress massively the past year has been Theo Hernandez and there may be a correlation between the two as the system Pioli uses allow Hernandez to attack for the bigger part of the game leaving Romagnoli to cover for him and step forward in order to do so.

Unfortunately for the captain, speed is far from his best attribute and he has been exposed against faster strikers due to that very high line and his inability to recover. That has led to Alessio losing some confidence as it seems as the Italian has to react or he might end up on the bench in the coming games.

2. Gone missing

Praised a lot for his creativity, Calhanoglu is yet to produce since coming back from injury. The Turkey international is a strange enigma to pick apart as his stats show that he is indeed capable of creating chances and providing assists, but his consistency can be questioned as the playmaker struggles when playing against more aggressive sides that do not leave him much space.

Db Milano 12/01/2021 - Coppa Italia / Milan-Torino / foto Daniele Buffa/Image nella foto: Hakan Calhanoglu PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxITA

It is potentially a controversial opinion, but if Milan are playing in the Champions League next season and want to raise the bar both in Europe and Serie A they might need to look elsewhere for the No.10 position unless the former Leverkusen man gets firing again – and he could.

3. Right wing a priority 

It is a topic that has been spoke about a lot, but the right side has simply not brought much creativity to this Milan side this season. On the left hand side Theo Hernandez has been bursting forward all season long, but Calabria doesn’t have the same attributes to do so and Milan’s top summer priority should be the right wing.

The problem on the right has also led opponents to focus mainly on containing the left hand side of Milan’s attacks which has caused the left flank to not be as efficient as we are used to see it.

4. Knocking on the door

While Romagnoli was having a bad night, Kjaer wasn’t far off him as the Dane hasn’t enjoyed the best of form lately as well with injury problems scattered amongst that.

February 7, 2021, Milan, Italy: Milan, Italy, Giuseppe Meazza stadium, February 07, 2021, Fikayo Tomori of AC Milan warms up during AC Milan vs Crotone FC - Italian football Serie A match Italian football Serie A match - AC Milan vs Crotone FC, milan, Italy PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY - ZUMAl164 20210207_zsa_l164_214 Copyright: xFabrizioxCarabellix

Fortunately for Pioli, Fikayo Tomori has shown to be an excellent choice for the centre-back position and the coach can’t really justify leaving him out of the starting XI at this point.

On the bench he also has Matteo Gabbia back from injury and Kalulu that he can trust and try to move things around the back. One thing is for sure, Tomori has been great when given the chance and Pioli cannot ignore him for much longer.

5. A crucial cog missing

While Milan have been doing great despite Bennacer’s absence, the Algerian has grown into a magnificent player over the last year and is one that knows how to keep the ball, escape the press and orchestrate the game.

We saw this in the reserve derby in the league in which Bennacer absolutely got the better of Nicolo Barella, who wasn’t at his explosive best yesterday but still found ample room to do what he does best: affect the game.

Bennacer picked up a slight injury in the Europa League after coming back from his initial injury and he should be left to properly recover now in order to get him fit for the last third of the league as he is one capable of making the difference for his side.


READ MORE: Half-spaces, build-up, balance and creativity – A prognosis of Milan’s problems and how to fix them

Tags AC Milan Milan Inter

8 Comments

  1. Milanisti indonesia says:

    Romagnoli = absolute trash
    Hakan = overated, give maldini and hauge chance on this position, better than dry loan diaz
    Meite = garbage, too expensive signing
    Theo = tell him not to make silly dribble and asking for foul, better to distribute the ball. When he lose the ball because that stupid dribble its always dangerous because romagnoli is a trash for covering. You aint no gareth bale man
    Rebic = loosing orientation, he run and run everywhere but never really had a dangerous things for the opponent
    Krunic = i dont know why pioli insist to play someone who never good at any position, include him for the UEFA and leave hauge, just stupid decision. Absolute garbage for the team

    Cant complaint for the rest, they do well. And pioli should give a chance to youngster more. So many talent like colombo olzer maldini hauge gabbia kalulu tomori etc. If pioli dont give a chance just let them play somewhere else, dont destroy talent just because you cant use them in right way

    1. Fery fans milan too says:

      Dear milanisti indonesia, sorry before, but in my opinion, you can only criticize and criticize, the coaching staff and players have given their best for Milan until now since the coaching era Mr. Pioli ,, you forgot or pretended to forget when Milan maintained the Capolista position for 18 weeks, please don’t just comment on the corner as if you know better, they are just experiencing mental decline, they also know how to fix it … as fans we better give support .. Milan per sempre, forza milan.!!! 🔴⚫🔴⚫

  2. Zoro Caloro says:

    I like how you wrote Tomori has “shown to be an excellent choice”. Lol come on man. He has looked good so far but after 2.5 games you are stating it as fact that he’s proven to be an excellent choice?? Ok then… yes he might be but gotta give the guy some more games before making wild declarations like that. Also, be careful with stuff like that because if you can so quickly befome infatuated within 2.5 games, I wonder how quickly he’d become a scapegoat if he played poorly for a few games?? Be level headed here… he has talent, he’s looked good so far in the short amount of minutes he’s had, and we’re all looking forward to seeing more fron him to see if he can be the real deal or just a fast guy.

  3. Marius says:

    If pioli is saked now, we can recover till the end of the campain and fight for scudeto or at least second place with someone like ragnik. But if we continue with Pioli, we all are going de be verry dissapointed with the results. But again, the chance for that to happen are close to 0.

    1. Bunga2 says:

      Sack Pioli? Are you f- kidding me? Look, he’s no Ancelotti, Pep or Mourinho, but come on man, he’s one of the main reason we’re contending in the first place. Did you guys suddenly forget last year or what? Give the man a chance to finish what he started. What are the guarantee that if Rangnick or whoever comes in and suddenly we’re gonna win Scudetto? We need continuity and stop panicking and overreacted like we’re in relegation zone.

      Sure, the fixture looks very hard. But would you want a new coach who would bring new sets of ideas and who knows if our players might be able to translate that into victories. If you wanna sack Pioli, do it right after the season ends, not during, and especially not before series of tough fixtures ahead. Afterall, he was hired to get UCL spot next season and although things do look bleak atm, we’re STILL on the right track. I am no Pioli’s apologist but some of you are deluded indeed.

      1. Marius says:

        4-2-3-1 is the easiest formation to master by the players. You only need phisical condition. This is why milan worked like a charm after covid19 closedown. Formations like 3-5-2 struggled quite alot and this style of play need alot of practice, and also needs player with good first touch and technique. With right players( and milan has some excelent youngsters) you could have a superb style of play. I don’t want to see Milan again defending so much against teams that play beautiful footbal.Remember spezia? not a single shoot on target? wtf? I agree with you that continuity is a must but, Pioli made to many fatal mistakes and as a milan coach you have to adapt to every posible situation. Pardon me but he master only 4-2-3-1 and now every team in serie a knows to counter that style with aggresive and overcrowded midfield.

        1. Bunga2 says:

          I agree with your assessment, the loss against Spezia was hugely disappointing, not to mention that we didn’t even shoot at the target once. I am also as angry as you are. However, I still think changing Pioli NOW isn’t the solution. What we can only hope is that he is more daring to get rid of players who are not performing well, even if it (for example) means dropping our captain. And the players simply had to play better too! Ever since we’re leading Serie-A, it seems to me that some of our players lost some of their hungers, the ‘underdog mentality’ and it was evident in the match against Spezia where we were seemingly overconfident prior and even during the match. The contract situations with regards to Hakan and Gigio and also Ibra’s participation at upcoming San Remo also doesn’t help at all. Lord, I love Ibra but come on now, he’s setting poor example to these kids..

          I am sure Pioli would be evaluated at the end of the season, and then we will know clearer which direction we will go to. In the meantime, I hope he would still get us into the CL, so we can attract more quality players. Best of luck to us all.

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