AC Milan 1-0 Torino: Five things we learned – clean sheet and wing-back success

By Ivan Stoev -

AC Milan finally managed to get back to winning ways with a slim but vital 1-0 victory over Torino at San Siro. Ahead of the Spurs clash, it was a much-needed confidence boost for them. 

Stefano Pioli changed the starting XI quite a bit with Alexis Saelemaekers replacing Davide Calabria and Malick Thiaw slotting in instead of Matteo Gabbia. In attack, Rafael Leao and Brahim Diaz replaced Divock Origi and Junior Messias respectively.

Defensively, the Rossoneri looked good although Torino had a chance or two to cause damage in the first half. Ciprian Tatarusanu was equal to the efforts and ended up making a couple of good saves.

In the second half, Olivier Giroud improved his game as he got more involved and actually managed to connect with his teammates, which led to the Frenchman opening the scoring in the 62nd minute through a lovely header. It proved to be the winning goal, putting Milan back into the top four and providing a big morale boost after a more than disappointing run of games.

Here are five things we learned…

1. First in a while

Milan’s defence looked much better as a whole, with Saelemaekers fitting the right wing-back slot much better than Calabria and Thiaw seizing the opportunity and helping his team get a clean sheet for the first time in 2023.


It’s been a while since we’ve seen a solid defensive performance. It looks like Pioli has the ingredients for the three-man defence with Theo Hernandez also looking sharper against Torino. The task at hand now is to find continuity at the back as we saw at the end of last season and try to solidify the position in the standings.

2. Malick Thiaw impresses

The German finally got his start and he impressed at the San Siro, raising the question of why Pioli did not use him earlier amid all the defensive issues in the past month. He stayed calm and managed to come out victorious from most of his duels, earning our MOTM in the post-game ratings.

The centre-back also seemed to be of great help when it came to winning balls in the air as he was quite dominant in that department and may well be the key to Milan’s set-piece issues. Pioli will definitely have to keep playing him in the starting XI after a defensive performance we haven’t seen in a while.

3. A win to boost the morale 

In the second half, Milan barely impressed and whilst they did step up compared to the first 45, we still didn’t see anything special from the Rossoneri. However, they managed to do enough in order to grab the three points and keep a clean sheet which is exactly what they need now so that the morale within the squad improves.

At this point, ugly football and three points seem to be enough for Milan, who just need to build momentum and gain confidence and they should not worry whether or not they are playing the most entertaining football as long as they get the job done.

4. Midfield duo struggling 

The only reason Torino was able to threaten Milan a bit was due to the underperforming Milan midfield that allowed them to take shots from long range. Krunic and Tonali were simply not up to the level as they couldn’t really impose themselves in either phase of the game they weren’t as effective in defense, but also looked sloppy on the ball as their passes were subpar and led to nothing interesting.

Tonali, in particular, hasn’t really been on fire recently, but he needs to wake up and improve as he and Bennacer are a vital part of this team, and Pioli needs both of his midfielders to be up to the standard.

5. Effective display from the wing-backs

Hernandez and Saelemaekers did a really good job on both flanks this time around as the duo had a great impact in both phases of the game. The Frenchman also provided the assist for Giroud and should’ve really been on the scoresheet, but failed to get his shot on target on a pretty much open goal.

That said, Hernandez had his best game since the World Cup, which came just in time for the Champions League clash against Spurs. Saelemaekers also did well as a RWB, which really suits him well as his pace allows him to recover fast and be part of both phases of the game. Bad news for Calabria, who will have to work even harder for his spot now.

Tags AC Milan Serie A Torino


  1. “Tonali hasn’t really been on fire recently “. Talk about an understatement. Why does everyone feel like they have to protect this guy and make excuses for him. He has been bad pretty much all season. Can we just say that? He’s not what they hyped him up to be and Milan needs to come to that realization fast or it’s going to continue to hurt the team. Milan are getting dominated in the midfield against everyone, where Milan used to be the team dominating the midfield. Tonali isn’t good enough to be a regular starter. He’s ok as a number 3 to give someone a rest but Milan really need to go find a starting MF to go along with Bennacer.

    1. Lol someone really hate Tonali and have a serious brain fart just because Tonali didn’t played well for some matches.

      You forgot he’s one of Milan best Mid this season with 7 assists and 2 goals in all competitions. Even Bennacer, which is arguably Milan best mid this season, only have 1 goal and 1 assist in all competitions.

      It’s not Milan who needs to realize about Tonali potential. But it’s you who needs to realize that you don’t have any basic knowledge about football.

      1. That’s because you look at numbers and don’t watch the actual game. I don’t care if Tonali had 17 assists and 10 goals, he is not as good or as important as Bennacer to this team. Stop defending this guy, he is overrated. He is slow, and terrible on the ball, he just works hard and nothing else. His ability is below average. I don’t know what Italians see in this guy, but he is a joke.

    2. I agree, you don’t understand football. I think you had imagined Tonali to be some type of a player and now your feelings got hurt because he is a different player. But his stats speak differently from what you said. Everyone has bad games or even months…

      1. If you think Tonali is a great player then I’m afraid you don’t understand football. He is slow, he is dreadful in possession, and he is lazy when tracking back. The only thing he has is a bit of fight in him.

    3. ” Why does everyone feel like they have to protect this guy and make excuses for him.”

      Has ANYONE defended him lately? I haven’t seen that. Everyone has been pretty openly trashing the player – me included. Why? Because he has deserved it. He has played like crap.

  2. Point 4… I have always said it that pioli lacks balls, the way he structured the team has made some players feel too important and can get away with anything. Why wouldn’t they feel that way when the coach never want to challenge the first eleven with new signings and always gives excuses of them not been ready.
    If Tomori wasn’t injured we’d always think Malick was a bad summer business, now we all see the summer business wasn’t bad but the coach isn’t integrating them well.

    1. Don’t be too hasty to judge. Thiaw is just starting. One good match is not enough to conclude but I will be so happy if you prove me wrong with your speedy judgement.

      1. I agreed with you Gbenga Ajose 🤝

        Your comment is the only rationale one here while the others act like they’re genius football manager.

  3. I think that pioli was the only one that had doubts about thiaw,fans were asking for him for a long time,and how to explain that?when a proffesional coach can’t see what a not proffesional kid fans can see? Also,i hope he learned what we already knew,calabria can’t be leader and captain of this team,he is not even good enough for starter,we already knew that but coach did not.

  4. We don’t have right winger in team so we should quit trying,diaz should be replaced with some defensive midfielder which will sit behind tonali and krunic/vranx to prevent what u already said: “The only reason Torino was able to threaten Milan a bit was due to the underperforming Milan midfield that allowed them to take shots from long range.” In attack i would give Leao complete freedom to play whatever he want,close to giroud in attack or going to wing or going for ball deep in midfield,he is so fast and would be perfect for that, so my favourite formation would be 3-1-4-2 thiaw,tomori,kalulu — benacer — theo,tonali,vranx,saelemakers– leao,giroud. God bless u all.

  5. Right now I’d say pair Calabria with Tonali or Bennacer in the midfield. He played that position and was pretty disciplined. He has the right characteristics as a defensive midfielder.

    1. Pioli would rather eat his shoes than try to use a utility player for utility purpose.
      It would be easier for Krunic to play as a top 9 with a fit Giroud than Calabria playing in the midfield for experiment sake.

  6. Give Cdk a good chance to play in forward positions. Why is Diaz taking away precious development slots ahead of Cdk and Adil. Milan needs to give their newcomers more chances. Diaz is constantly a 5-6 points. He doesn’t deserve to have a starting slot until he permanently a Milan owned player. He is only a loanee.

  7. We also learned we better get Kessie back before Inter does and we are forced to watch him boss around and destroy our mid every fkn derby. Swallow your pride M&M and bring him back this summer.

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