AC Milan 0-3 Lille: Five things we learned – key mistakes and a counter-productive combination

By Ivan Stoev -

Milan were hoping to grab a third consecutive win in the group stages of the Europa League, but they were soundly beaten by Lille.

The Rossoneri never really settled into the game at all with a lot of sloppy passes and nothing to really trouble Lille’s defence, and it was was in the 22nd minute when the away side took command as Romagnoli gave away a penalty for the second game in a row.

From then onwards it felt that nothing Milan did made any difference to the outcome of the game, as Yusuf Yazici went on to complete an impressive hat-trick and end the 24-game unbeaten run.

Here are five things we learned…

1. Not leading by example

The captain had another performance to forget after giving away a penalty and contributing an overall bad performance bellow his usual standards.

The problem for Romagnoli has been here since Pioli came and implemented his ideas to this team, which involves having a high line and playing intense football. For Romagnoli that has been a problem as he is lacking pace and failing to cover the empty spaces that are left from Theo Hernandez, Kessie and Bennacer bursting forward.

In the game against Lille in particular it was Theo and Dalot on the wings, and with both of them attacking minded it didn’t help Romagnoli at all. While the 25-year-old has been great for Milan, he never really played in a style like this and now he is failing to adapt to the new system.

This is something he needs to address and fix as soon as possible in order to prevent games like this happening again, especially if he wants a new deal with a pay rise.

2. A counter-productive combination

While Romagnoli did have a hard time against Lille, the fact that both Dalot and Theo were on the wings didn’t help both him and Kjaer at all.

The two centre-backs were exposed too much to the fast counter-attacks of Lille, which is by far their biggest strength if not their only threat. With both full-backs more attack-minded, it left way too much empty space for the opposition as there was no balance in transition.

This mistake we’ll have to put on Pioli, as even though he wants to rest some of the key players, decision like that against an impressive Lille side like that will backfire as they did on Thursday night.

3. Learning from mistakes

Stefano Pioli has done an amazing job to revive this Milan side, but even he can make mistakes and unfortunately that cost his team dearly.

While finishing in the top four in Serie A is crucial for Milan, it was equally crucial to secure first place in the groups of the Europa League as fast as possible and then try rotating the team in the remaining games, knowing that dropping points won’t change anything.

However, Pioli decided to experiment against the most dangerous team in the group and got hurt badly. With two attacking full-backs and the three behind Ibrahimovic completely anonymous, it was bound to be a rough night for the Rossoneri against a side that has a lot of speed down the flanks.

Pioli is allowed mistakes after weeks and weeks of getting things right, and it is all part of the journey. Hopefully lessons will be learned from the performance both from the players and from the coach and the team can bounce back against Hellas Verona on Sunday.

4. A lost cause

We seem to pick on Samu Castillejo every time he is on the field, but it really is like having 10 men out there. He just doesn’t have what it takes to play for a club like Milan and that should be obvious by now.

Furthermore in his attempts to prove himself he goes on to be selfish with his dribbles and shooting which further hurts his team as nothing positive is coming out of these actions.

Surely the right-wing position an area that needs to be addressed in January if Milan what to be ambitious towards the ends of the season and potentially win silverware.

5. Some time coming

It’s an unfortunate way to end an unbeaten, run but fortunately for Milan it came after two wins in the group and it also came in the Europa League rather than Serie A.

While a defeat like this one may leave a very bitter taste it was also bound to happen at some point and hopefully it will be an alarm clock for the team to wake up as they have been slowing down as of late.

The team has done amazingly for almost a year with the expectations skyrocketing, but Milan needs to move from this defeat, learn and adjust to be better.

Tags AC Milan Milan Lille


  1. Some players like Ramagnoli are not fit to be Milan player, I have watched him for long, he is not even fit to be a Captain. Castelejo, leao even Have to be sold off, Milan lack speed, even quality upfront.

    1. I think it will be stupid to sell Leao. I believe that he someday will be among the best player around. I hope he achieve that with Milan. He is still young and needs time to grow. He has shown some of his qualities lately. I think he is going to do something big this season.
      Forza Milan

  2. I think some of these considerations are a little extreme…Romagnoli might do some mistakes, but Milan had one of the best defences in serie A since Pioli arrived and even before with Gattuso. Castillejo did good things last year, and even though he is in bad shape right now, I think it is early to give up on him.

    1. You are very right. We pick on individual players but fail to notice that the team was very slow. Our opponents took a couple of seconds to mount an attack and shoot at goal. We pass the ball to one another and do not shoot even with the goal posts right infront of us.

  3. Everybody praises leao, I can’t seem to understand why. He lacks in all departments. Simon is our best defender by far. He brings the same to defence as zlatan to attack.. the moment we brought on bennacer I could already see the difference in play. He and kessie should start each match. It’s no wonder PSG and man city want him so bad. We should build our midfield around bennacer and kessie. Selling the any of the pair will be out downfall.

  4. The praise on tonali is overhyped. He brings nothing going forward … So much for the comparisons with Pirlo. I guess it’s only the hair.

    Our Turk might leave for higher wages. Zlatan ain’t getting any younger. And as for our captain he lacks overall quality. The leadership between him and donuramma is there but it will never make up for the lack in quality.

    The only 3 players in the team that actually perform week in week out ; kessie,bennacer and Zlatan. I put no blame on Zlatan for Lille game. Our midfield gave him nothing..

    The most frustrating thing during the game. From Romagnoli the ball goes to kjear. Then to Theo. Then back. Every single time. Tonali couldn’t play one through ball. Not even one long ball. Had no confidence in looking up and playing a ball forward.

    We the youngest 23 man squad in Europe which I understand but after the performance against Lille. I’ve began to actually get concerned that we’ve been riding our luck. And come transfer window and we let one of our best players leave. it will be wishful thinking to hope for champions League places

  5. Romagnoli isn’t good enough for a club that used to have Baresi, Maldini, Nesta and Tiago Silva. The attackers go easily through him or fool him to get a penalty or free kicks. Simon Kjær looks better then him even when Kjær isn’t a top defender. Milan really need to buy a good defender if they want to win the league.

    Castillejo has never been good for Milan and he will never be. He isn’t good enough. I hope that Milan will sign Thauvin. He can give so much to this team. With him and a strong defender, I am sure that Milan will get a silverware.

  6. Glad we have finally understood the importance and balance to this side that Calabria brings. His influence is vastly underrated.

    I’m not too concerned about Romagnoli as he only recently returned. He deserves to be criticised, but he can bounce back.
    Samu has been going through a very rough patch tbh. Last season, he seemed to be the better option against Suso, but this year, Saelemakers is… considerably better for this group.

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