After last week’s postponed game due to the corona virus outbreak, AC Milan played their game against Genoa in an empty San Siro.
Unfortunately, the uncertainty off the field looked as it has affected the players and they seemed to have no desire or urgency to win the game, which resulted in a 2-1 loss for Pioli’s men.
The visitors scored twice in the first half which was enough to secure them the three points and help them in their relegation battle.
At the back Theo, Gabbia and Conti did not have the best of performances with their sloppy defending being costly in the end. The attack, however, didn’t look much sharper with the man in form – Rebic – not able to shine and while creating opportunities his decision making in the final third has led him down.
While Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a goal to put Milan back in the game he was far from perfect throughout the game. The Swede was having a hard time linking up with his teammates being frustrated for the majority, even if he was the one responsible for the mistake. Surely he is not happy with the managerial drama as well as he was expecting to be talking for a contract renewal already, but with the sacking of Boban his future remains uncertain.
Here are five things we learned…
1. Room for improvement
While Theo has been a super signing for Milan this season it is fair to say that his defensive work has let him down more than once.
Both of Genoa’s goals came from his side with the first one being conceded mainly because of him. You could argue that a lot of players could have prevented the second, which happened due to a catalogue of errors, but it’s no secret that Theo’s weak point is his defending.
If he improves that aspect of his game next season he can be one of the best left-backs in the world with time, but for now teams will continue to try and pin him back to expose his weaknesses.
2. Circus on and off the field
With all the things going on at Milan right now; specifically the sacking of Boban, the uncertainty of Maldini’s position as well as Pioli and a few of the players, it was obviously going to have an effect on the field as well.
Ivan Gazidis hasn’t been in the news much this season excluding his misunderstandings with Boban and Maldini from day one. However, now he succeeded in making the players and all of the staff at Milanello feel confused, something which appeared to be shown in the game on Sunday.
Ivan Gazidis with all his friends at Milan. pic.twitter.com/ahmsEg7Azk
— Daley (@DaleyAFC) March 8, 2020
Milan had lack of desire on the field and even coach Pioli seemed to have given up trying to turn things around. It seems as though the season is coming to an early finish for the Rossoneri and we await more clarity, though it is worth mentioning the players are also accountable for a poor display.
3. Ibra frustrating
While he was probably the best player for his side, Zlatan was frustrating to watch for the majority of the game as he was complaining on every mistake he or his teammates made even if he was the reason for it.
Eventually the Swede managed to get himself in the scoresheet, but as with the rest of his team he looked somewhat off, uncharacteristically missing golden opportunities.
There are clear signs that Ibrahimovic is not happy with all the drama off the field that Gazidis is making and that’s showing on the field as well. Now, we must see his warrior spirit.
4. Donnarumma crucial
With Gianluigi Donnarumma being injured for the game, Asmir Begovic got his first start in a Milan shirt. Unfortunately for him it wasn’t the best of debuts as he conceded two tap-in goals that could arguably have been prevented.
As we’ve seen many times with Donnarumma, who loves to take his chances and intercept the crosses, although some of the times that does lead to a goal the Italian may make a case that he would have prevented at least one of Genoa’s goals.
We have also seen that Donnarumma is now a vocal leader on the pitch. He may have been better and more confident in identifying the imminent dangers and making sure it got dealt with, whoever by.
However we cannot fully blame Begovic as the errors were mainly defensive, while Donnarumma is growing into one of the world’s best and hopefully this can be a sign for the management, whoever that is, that his contract needs to be a priority.
5. Time for the youth?
With the chance of qualifying for the Champions League long gone, maybe it’s time to consider giving some of the youngsters like Daniel Maldini, Rafael Leao, Matteo Gabbia and Marco Brescianini some consistent playing time.
As we are heading towards a new “year zero” this summer it wouldn’t be harmful if our younger and talented players get a bit of experience to help their growth.
Gabbia did make some mistakes against Genoa but with Musacchio probably set to leave at the end of the season it would be far better to let the youngster develop. The same goes for Leao although none of the attacking players are set to leave for now but switching to a 4-4-2 again may allow the Portuguese youngster to pair with Ibrahimovic up top and gain some experience.
Daniel Maldini on the other hand has just played a few minutes, but it would be something that the fans will be happy, to see him play more between now and the end of the season in order to understand whether he is right for the senior squad at present.