Milan came into the Lazio game looking to build on an unconvincing display but a narrow 1-0 win over SPAL on Thursday night.
However, despite the fact that the Rossoneri looked sharper and hungrier for victory against Lazio, they failed to take a point as they lost 2-1 as Ciro Immobile and Joaquin Correa scored for the away side.
The game started off well with Milan pressing high up the field, playing aggressively and creating chances with Samu Castillejo being a pleasant surprise and the best player for his side.
Unfortunately for the Spaniard, he suffered an injury around the thirty-fifth minute and was replaced by Ante Rebic.
While Milan played well for the most part, they once again lost all points due to individual errors, leaving too much space at times for their opponents. Moreover, the good display again lacked clinical finishing, and the team are in desperate need of someone who can finish the attacks.
Here are five things we learned…
1. Unfortunate surprise
Samu Castillejo got to start the game against Lazio as Suso suffered a muscle injury prior to the game. The Spaniard grabbed his chance by storm as he was the Rossoneri’s best player before suffering an injury in the 35th minute.
He showed good speed and agility combined with good ball control and tricks down the flank. He even had a decent attempt from outside the area saved and showed great vision as well, brilliantly putting Lucas Paqueta in on goal after a beautiful through ball.
Unfortunately, Samu left the field in tears as he suffered an injury, but Pioli will surely hope that this is not serious as the winger showed great work rates.
2. Nailing down the spot
Ismael Bennacer was preferred over Lucas Biglia in the regista position and after a shaky start he picked up the pace and looked better and better as the minutes ticked on, showing great energy and recovering balls all over the field.
The Algerian finally is starting to look like the prospect Milan thought that they bought in the summer and he was dictating the game well, escaping from tight situations with his dribbles and agility.
However, despite being probably the best player after Castillejo, Bennacer did give quite a few balls away and needs to work harder in that aspect of his game.
3. Piatek not the solution
Krzysztof Piatek started the game over Rafael Leao as the centre-forward, and although he looked more confident and in a better physical shape he still did not manage to have a big impact on the game.
The Poland international’s first touch failed him too many times as he lost the balls on a number of occasions, and he also disrupted Milan on fast counters due to his weak ball control. In terms of shooting, Piatek looked more eager to try his shot but unfortunately did not have success with that as he failed to hit the target.
With Milan spending €35million on the striker in January they surely expected more from him. With reported interest from Chelsea and other European teams, the Rossoneri might consider more deeply what to do with the player as they are in desperate need of a player to score goals.
4. Promising first signs
Rade Krunic found himself struggling for playing time at the beginning of the season but was inserted int the starting XI on Sunday night, taking Franck Kessie’s spot.
The Bosnia international put in a good shift and although he was not dazzling, he recovered the ball well at times with his physicality and managed to carry the ball into the final third well too.
Krunic ultimately looks like a decent depth player and surely deserves a bit more playing time, but he is not the game changer the Rossoneri need right now.
5. Time for a major change?
Since Pioli’s arrival at Milan the team has played in a 4-3-3 formation which involves Theo Hernandez playing somewhat as a left winger, leaving the Rossoneri with three at the back.
However, of those three Calabria plays more as a right wing-back and consequently Milan have only two defenders at the back when attacking, exposing themselves to counter attacks.
As seen against Lazio, the two goals came after the left side – where Theo should be defending – was completely empty leaving a lot of space for the Lazio players.
A 3-5-2 formation could in theory fix the issue as Milan will then have a three-man defence consisting purely of central defenders. That will leave Theo Hernandez more freedom on the left, knowing that he has a teammate covering his zone.
Davide Calabria will probably benefit from the change of formation as well as he tends to go forwards but makes sloppy mistakes at times, and playing as a wing-back will at least let him make mistakes further away from goal.
In the middle Pioli can then do whatever he wants. He can either go with two strikers or use more of a 3-4-1-2 system, but either way the main point now has to be keeping goals out having conceded at least twice in six of their last eight games.