AC Milan 1-0 Hellas Verona: Five things we learned – ugly but crucial for Rossoneri

By Isak Möller -

AC Milan clinched all three points in their game against Hellas Verona yesterday and thus got back to winning ways in the league. Indeed, it was a much-needed confidence boost for the Rossoneri who now are second again. 

Stefano Pioli’s men got a perfect start to the game as Rafael Leao opened the scoring within the first ten minutes. Olivier Giroud picked him out with an outside-of-the-boot pass and the winger didn’t make any mistakes with the finish, scoring with his left foot.

The rest of the game was, in truth, very boring and scrappy. It was a constant physical battle and although Milan had a couple of good chances to double their lead, the final score ended up being 1-0. Something the Rossoneri also have to thank Marco Sportiello for, as he made a great save 20 minutes into the game.

Below are five things we learned about the clash. 

1. It wasn’t pretty, but who cares

It was a very scrappy game from start to finish, with both teams seemingly more focused on the physical battle than actually playing good football. There’s not much that can be done in games like these, you simply have to fight fire with fire.

The formation change (which we will discuss more below) certainly didn’t help things for Milan but even with a makeshift eleven, they fought like a team. Rafael Leao’s goal was enough to seal the three points and the latter is the most important takeaway from the clash anyway.

We will be hoping for better games against Cagliari and Lazio, but the rotation is not going anywhere with this incredibly tight schedule.

2. Sportiello is a capable back-up

What a save it was from the former Atalanta man in the first half, showcasing cat-like reflexes to deny Verona a very nice goal. In addition to that, he was very calm on the ball and didn’t look at all insecure in the aerial situations.

For Milan, this was a very important performance as we can all remember how it was with Ciprian Tatarusanu. With all due respect to the Romanian, who had plenty of good games for the Rossoneri, it was the overall sense of insecurity that hurt Milan the most with him.

Maignan will likely be rested against Cagliari as well, so Sportiello will get another chance to show his qualities between the sticks.

3. Fans rushed into Pioli criticism 

Many, or perhaps all of us, were surprised when the 3-4-3 reports first broke on Friday. The fans immediately criticised Pioli for his selection and the performance against Verona would have proven them right if it wasn’t for one, in this case, important detail.

Pioli didn’t want the formation change, he was forced into it. He expected both Davide Calabria and Theo Hernandez to be available for the game but when fatigue forced them to be on the sidelines, he had to switch.

The manager only found out about their absence on Friday and thus had one training session to get the 3-4-3 working. With all of this in mind, we must cut Pioli some slack for his decision to use the only formation he could with the players at his disposal.

4. Krunic’s injury is a huge setback

The Bosnian has been a key player for Milan at the start of this season and many of us feared an injury was imminent, given how much he had played. On that front, Pioli deserves criticism as he could have benched the midfielder against Verona.

Instead, Krunic played from the first minute and in the second half, he picked up a muscle injury. He could be out for as long as a month and tests will be carried out tomorrow (Monday) to determine the extent of the injury. In any case, it’s a big blow for Milan as he likely will miss the Dortmund game.

5. Rotation is here to stay

The rotation worked well against Verona, given the circumstances, and there will absolutely be more rotation in the upcoming games. In just eleven days, Milan will play four games (Cagliari, Lazio, Dortmund and Genoa) and Pioli will thus have to make the most of the players at his disposal.

It seems Tijjani Reijnders could replace Krunic against Cagliari, but Yacine Adli is now also set to get his chance in one of the upcoming games. In short, there could be some surprises in the starting XI even if at this point, the changes should be considered normal in such a hectic period.

Tags AC Milan Hellas Verona


  1. Fans rushed into Pioli criticism?
    Pioli didn’t want the formation change, he was forced into it?

    If Pioli rotates and uses bench players more often he wouldn’t have to change the whole formation because of couple injuries.
    You telling me he couldn’t play Florenzi as a right back and one of Bartesaghi or Pellegrino ae a left back?
    Pioli said he practiced the new formation for about an hour the day before the game. What kind of coach does that?
    His lack of rotation and lack of use of the back ups is the reason why he changed the formation not the injuries.
    What’s the excuse for playing 37 year old Giroud? You wanna tell me that Okafor, a player that Pioli has been pushing for Milan to sign since he destroyed Kalulu, can’t play as a striker even vs a team like Verona?

    Ownership should go above and beyond to find the future coach, even pay a release clause.
    The Milanista and one of the better coaches in today’s football Roberto De Zerbi is 3rd in EPL with 5 wins out of 6 after he lost his 2 best players this summer and having nowhere near the talent that the top EPL clubs have. His team dominates games.
    Pay the release clause, bring him home and let’s watch Milan play big boy football instead of playing only on counter attack like a small club.

    1. I heard there are some 14 year old kids that should play also. First team, no questions. What are you people smoking? Bartesaghi starting the game with 0 minutes senior experience? You’re so delusional. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 Turn on football manager and have fun.

      1. His points are pretty spot on. Why do you feel the need to argue with everyone? This isn’t Twitter. Provide some substance and solid points in your arguments if you want to be taken seriously.

        Bartesaghi came in and looked good. It’s Verona (who we’re almost relegated). This is a perfect game for a debut. Instead he made boneheaded decisions and it led to injuries and overall bad play. We had 3 shots on goal, that’s not good enough against this opposition.

        1. What is spot on? Playing kids in the first team? I don’t entertain id***s, I don’t care what you think. The best players in the history of football did not play at 16.

          1. Lol 😂Maldini has entered the chat….. literally made his debut at 16 and is probably the GOAT or at least in that convo

            Dollaruma is a pretty good GK despite the complaints here but he also debut at 16. They don’t all play young but if they can then why not. If you’re good enough to play at 16-20 it’s fine to play

      2. How else would he gain experience if you don’t play him?
        By watching football manager with you?
        Playing those back ups in games vs smaller team like Verona will allow them to gain experience, build up their confidence and understanding on the field with their teammates, so next time you need them they’ll be ready to step in and perform confidently.
        We have seen this movie before. Watch what’s going to happen the next time Theo has to rest and one or both of Calabria and Florenzi are injured, and they are often injured. Pioli will still change formation because he is not utilizing the players he has on the bench.

      3. You don’t have to disgrace yourself anytime there’s constructive criticism, we are fans too and we do not follow on blind devotion… Some of us watch other leagues, we see and understand how good football is played or should be played. The team is lacking clear ideas on the pitch, we are getting demolished every derby day for seasons running and you choose to be delusional about the team’s condition.
        Please grow up, watch other matches, watch EPL and see beautiful football. Go watch Manchester City or Brighton play and come back to watch when we play if you can enjoy what you see.

          1. “The best players in the history of football did not play at 16.”

            Debut age for great players:
            Messi – 16
            CR7: – 17
            Maldini 16
            Matthaus 18
            Pele and Maradona 15
            Beckenbauer 18
            Ronaldo 18
            Zidane 17

            Lol 😂

          2. Dude, you can’t even check properly. When did those players first START in the first team? I have been asking for Bartesaghi to get 5-10 minutes, that is how kids are developed. Messi got his first start at 18, not 16. When he was 16 he played some minutes, yes and he also played for Barcelona C, not even B. Easy to check, I won’t waste time on others, but don’t use stupid remarks to disprove me. Not true, at least not what I am talking about. And don’t mention players from 70 years ago, we are talking about modern football.

          3. Also, do you think Bartesaghi is on the level of Ronaldo R9 let’s say, or Messi? He will be considered on of the best of all time and is a talent that clubs would offer 100 or 200M tomorrow to sign? You can’t be serious. Let the kid develop properly, and let people that do that job do it.

          4. Lol all I did was quote you and then provide the stats to falsify your claim.
            You said “The best players in the history of football did not play at 16.”

            Messi oh no not 16…17 yr and some days …..but he’s still freaking SEVENTEEN. Smh 🤦‍♂️ you couldn’t even correct me properly, professional debut was indeed at 16 so I am correct but his first competitive was at 17 not 18 and played half the season hahaha 😂😂😂
            So you’re just going to ignore the Maldini thing then? Pele at 16 started and played alot of games at 16 for Santos? Lol. Nice cherry picking. I basically named all the top players of all time (“history”) and their debut age and all you have is Messi’s competitive debut???
            To your second point, sure they may not be exactly 16 or 17 when they started playing more regularly but they’re still quite young is the point with +/- a year before playing serious minutes. And best players will always have young debut ages because the talent shines early and are above the rest. Btw never said that Barte is going to be like these legends, just countering your point or lack thereof.
            If you’re looking for more modern examples well just look at some of the best in the world atm, MBappe started at 16 🤷‍♂️
            I really can go on because it’s such an obvious point. It’s ok to hold an L from time to time

        1. Btw. I am the person that has been writing how bad midfield signings are since they were signed. I have been saying that this team won’t play good or be good defensively because those are mediocre players. Whoever signed them is at fault, so Pioli + the management. I watch more football than you, I don’t understand your useless remark, but anyone who is saying a kid with 0 minutes should start a game is an id**t. Period. I don’t care about anything else an id**t has to say. You can, I don’t care, your thing.

        1. Yes, it doesn’t even work in FM, just in heads of geniuses commenting here. I remember a bunch of comments saying Camarda should be brought into the team and be Giroud backup. At 15.

  2. “we must cut Pioli some slack for his decision to use the only formation he could with the players at his disposal” why? why is this the only formation he can play? Isnt Berte a left back AND Theo’s sub and therefore we can stick with a back 4 formation instead of one which we only had one training session to master? Tell me how a formation we’ve never tried out in preseason make sense to play.
    Why isn’t Berte ready, isn’t that on the coach? Why sell Fode if once Theo is injured we dont play the reserve? These are legit questions and points. Why didn’t Pioli get a LB if he knew he wouldn’t play the reserve if the starter got injured? It’s not like Berte didn’t play preseason, he has minutes in his legs and played the 433. These player according to Pioli himself are exactly what he wanted. Whose job is it to get them up to speed? Acerbi played his first game in the Milan derby with zero minutes all season, Mikhi was preferred over Frattesi. Why does it take sooooo long for a player to get up to speed with Pioli’s tactics while most other top teams can easily sub in new players at will without loss of quality or changes to the entire system of play ie formation.

    This is why fans have a legitimate right to be critical of those exact decisions. Instead of playing MAYBE one person out of position, we’ve played at least three out of position just to accomodate a formation change. Make that make sense please. And have players look uncomfortable especially the left and right midfielders.
    Now I’d totally understand if he came out and admit that his normal tactics are susceptible to opposition who play 3/5 at the back. Surely we’d understand the matching formation argument but to say his hands are tied is all on him. Krunic injury is also down to him. Rotate properly and we wouldn’t have this issue especially the initial issue of being “forced” to play a new formation. 5 games in and players in key roles are yet to start smh

    1. Yeah, yeah… Come on Adli…!
      And for good measures give that kid Romero a fair chance – before Pioli destroys them by rotting on the bench.

  3. I like how y’all comment on these posts acting like 1) your opinion matters, 2) you know anything about working in a football club, 3) you’re smarter than the hired manager, 4) you can contribute football ideas to the team. Seriously, don’t take you’re fanhood so seriously and you’ll be able to handle your outbursts when our team doesn’t play amazing. But I guess y’all don’t have enough in your lives to worry about so you inflate small things like a formation change to be an actual problem in your lives. It’s kinda funny but mostly sad lol. All you intelligent fans here and elsewhere who comment, I see you!!

    1. It’s called being a fan and you can express whatever you want without repercussions. Guess what? People in general are free to do whatever they want to. You can CHOOSE to participate or you can choose not to. Just like how you can choose to participate by commenting here about other people, other people comment here about the club that they support. It’s not rocket science. The whole site is built off of having opinions.
      You also make assumptions on people’s lives as if their opinion might not matter. You don’t know their background. In the stadium design article for instance, there were architects commenting. In others there were ppl working in Comms, Consulting etc. These are informed opinions. But again…

    2. Man, your comment is even more sad. You are smarter than everyone else, so you have the high ground to tell off everyone? 😀 Great! Let’s use your way – I guess you don’t have enough in your life not to write stupid comments about other people commenting and how you don’t think it is useful. Try finding something better in your life.

  4. Pioli, like many successful coaches, doesn’t tend to take a lot of risks with youth, and since he’s been at Milan he’s had a pretty bad record.

    Daniel Maldini got one or two chances (and even scored more goals than Brahim) but it was never enough and he was soon pushed out and Brahim was given multiple opportunities to prove himself.

    Colombo never really stood a chance.

    It’ll be interesting to see how Bartesaghi goes.

    In fairness to our previous inexperienced, and less successful coaches, they did give youth a chance. The likes of Donnarumma, Calabria, Locatelli and Cutrone all got chances under Montella and Mihajlović.

    We didn’t win any trophies though.

  5. Every comment section it’s the same thing. All the armchair coaches with “But why don’t we play him?” “Why not try this…”, “When is this teenage nobody going to get minutes if not against Verona …”. Guess what? This is no youth club, and this is no place to make experiments. Every f’ing 3 points count, and that’s the ONLY thing that counts.

    You would think Adli is f’ing Zidane with all hype he gets from the living room managers here.

    And all this “Pioli is in fault for all injuries for not rotating”. Meanwhile all other teams have pretty much the same schedule, and we’re the only ones with half our squad down. And no, we aren’t the only playing aggressive football.

    1. Yes, that is how you win titles. Pioli is lacking but he isn’t stupid to drop a kid into the first team, maybe cause issues for the kid and possibly lose points.

  6. When I get mad at Pioli I always use the mantra. Remember Giampaolo, remember Giampaolo, Remember Giampaolo. And then I feel calm again. I don’t want to go back to that Milan. We are so much better now than we have been. And I believe Pioli actually is a big part of it. Fine he makes mistakes and weird choices many times. But he has gotten good results and brought us to a point where we fans have become quite spoiled and expect too much sometimes.

  7. Even with Krunic taking over as regista, this midfield was incomplete. Now without Krunic I don’t know what it is. Only muscles and runners but no brain. And don’t say Adli can take over, he maybe has flair others don’t but who’ll cover for him in defensive phase? Reijnders maybe but he too likes to drift way up high. We just don’t have a midfield for any formation right now.

    1. We will see in the next few games. And if Adli does well, will you admit you were wrong?
      Honestly I think Reijnders or Musah might be a better option there as it always seemed that Adli is a more offensive minded player, I’m assuming it was his defensive liabilities that kept Pioli from giving him a chance. Looks like we are about to find out.

    2. Yep agreed. With Krunic I thought the whole plan would have been to get someone into his role really quickly just in case he got injured or something. His role is crucial to the formation. But he kept playing 90 whole minutes everytime. His backup, whoever he is, needed to get minutes here and there to familiarize with the role

  8. And 1 more detail :
    – Leao better play more fast and advanced, than drop deep and hold the ball longer.

    Leao is a forward, who his best quality is play with speed. He often showed his qualities in fast play, beat his marker with his speed, run in to spaces, and finish. Just like Thierry Henry.

    Leao isn’t a Treaquartista who like to drop deeper and run the ball from deep, showing technical qualities. Leao often failed beat his marker in slower pace.

    So put Leao more advanced to always ready receive through ball and do his magic : make chances from nothing.

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