AC Milan 2-1 Fiorentina: Five things we learned – Tomori’s response; duo bring dynamism

By Ivan Stoev -

After a more than disappointing draw against Cremonese, AC Milan faced off against Fiorentina hoping for a winning end to a memorable 2022, and they got one in dramatic fashion.

The Rossoneri couldn’t have hoped for a better start as they scored after less than two minutes through Rafael Leao, but they then invited pressure and a deserved equaliser came for Fiorentina in the 28th minute through Antonin Barak’s deflected shot.

In the second half with Milan flagging it was a cross from substitute Aster Vranckx that caused carnage in Fiorentina’s box, ending with Terracciano jumping past the ball which hit Nikola Milenkovic’s knee and diverted into his own net to make it 2-1 and win the game for Milan. Here are five things we learned…

1. Weak flank targeted

After Malick Thiaw picked up his first start against Cremonese, Pioli decided to put faith into the youngster for a second consecutive game. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good of a display this time around with the German looking shaky on the ball and he could’ve probably done a bit better to block Barak’s shot too.

Following the goal he did have some good moments, but it overall it was a sub-par performance from the German, who of course needs time to fully adapt to the mechanisms.

Pierre Kalulu also wasn’t at his best and made a few errors including failing to clear the ball for Fiorentina’s goal which could have proven to be costly. He continued to be underwhelming after the goal and had to be saved by Fikayo Tomori on a couple of occasions.

2. Commanding performance

By contrast, Tomori was the deserved winner of the MOTM award in our post-game ratings. The Englishman made crucial interceptions including a tackle on Jonathan Ikone as he was about to pull the trigger and provided a brilliant goal-line clearance just before the winning goal up at the other end.

If there was a way to respond to Gareth Southgate’s decision to not include him in the English squad for the World Cup, that was it. A commanding performance at the back to help Milan close the year with a win.

3. Uncharacteristically poor

It felt odd to watch Ismael Bennacer and Sandro Tonali struggle to dominate the midfield, but it was just one of those nights. The Algerian in particular struggled a bit with his passing and didn’t find it easy to beat Fiorentina’s press, wasting a couple of chances through poor pass selection.

Tonali also wasn’t at his sharpest as he didn’t produce much and as time moved along he seemed shy to carry the ball forward or try to provide that spark that he has done so often. The break could do them both good.

4. Duo provide dynamism

Pioli made four changes in the second half with Ante Rebic and Divock Origi bringing nothing to the table, but fortunately for the coach, Sergino Dest and Aster Vranckx were determined to help their side win the game.

The right-back was an instant improvement to Kalulu as his pace and dribbling allowed him to beat his man and go forward a lot, which eventually led to him finding Vranckx just before the winning goal. It’s quite obvious that Dest is comfortable on the attacking side of things but is having difficulties and the back, however he has the potential to be a valuable part of the squad going forward.

Vranckx also came off the bench with a lot of willingness, but the youngster was also very calm on the ball and did not rush forward with long passes or silly decisions. Eventually he provided the cross that led to the winner and had a really solid performance to back it up. It will be interesting to see more of him in the new year.

5. A repeat Achilles heel

New week, same problem. Milan’s attack has been more than disappointing in recent games as they fail to create clear chances, let alone be clinical in front of goal.

Leao picked up his goal early on, but was really inefficient afterwards and at times was painful to watch. There was lack of urgency in his game as he looked a tad selfish and uninterested, while he also made some bizarre decisions in the second half to hang onto the ball instead of giving it to a team-mate in an obviously better position.

Undoubtedly the Portuguese winger is very hard to stop when he’s on his game, but he’s struggled to impose himself recently and his attitude has been questionable, though he will now fly to the World Cup with a chance to demonstrate on the biggest stage of all.

As for the rest of his colleagues in attack, Olivier Giroud got the assist on the first goal and won quite a few duels, but he lacked the support of his team-mates so he isn’t the one to blame in this.

Rade Krunic and Brahim Diaz, however, are to blame as they were simply invisible for the most of the game with the Spaniard having a couple of nice twists and turns but when it came to finishing it off he failed to make it count.

Rebic and Origi came off the bench in the second half and they too were woeful as the Belgian added nothing to Milan’s game. The Croatian on the other hand did cause some chaos leading up to the winning goal with his near post presence, but other than that he was wasteful and some of his crosses were just horrendous.

It will and should be a busy January for Milan’s management if they want to increase the chances of a Scudetto pursuit and a potentially better run in Europe, because the forward department currently looks stale.

Tags AC Milan Milan-Fiorentina


  1. To suggest blame for Thiaw’s deflection seems really unfair. There were three guys between Barak and Thiaw, the shot went under Kalulu and Tomori’s legs. Thiaw clearly never saw it. Your MOTM basically got nutmeged and Kalulu did far worse than Thiaw who was just trying to mark his man.

    I’m not throwing shade on Tomori it was an extremely quick shot that Kalulu should have done better on.

  2. To be clear again, Tomori was dreadful. No need to make a last-ditch challenge that you were lucky not to be called for a PK if you had been in the correct position to begin with. He was always out of position, one step behind needing to use his speed to cover up for his lack of tactical awareness. Yes, good job to go back and cover the line, but the ball hit him, he did not clear it, just lucky for Milan. Plus one good moment does not cover for a game of being lost at sea. Without Kjaer to direct the backline Milan is always at risk.

    1. Are you an English fan trying to justify his WC snubbing? 🤣🤣🤣 Yes the tackle was rash but he got it right. I agree that Tomori wasn’t the MOTM but to say he was dreadful is naive. He is deployed tactically to be hyper aggressive and break up play by pushing high up the pitch. The vulnerability in back is because Tata lacks the command Mike has. Tomori doesn’t have a keeper who is an active part of the defense behind him anymore, he’s lost his second pair of eyes so to speak. I like Kjear but we all know he would have been roasted against the speed of the viola forwards.

      1. “I like Kjear but we all know he would have been roasted against the speed of the viola forwards.”

        Just like Kvaradona did and Okafor too? LOL. Kjaer kept them both silent. Pace isn’t everything you know. Otherwise it would be only guys running 100m in under 10 seconds on the pitch.

    2. I agree. Tomori is good because he can quickly recover position. But my question is: why is he out of position? I think the answer is more Pioli tactics than the player. I think Tomori is given leave to charge out of defense to close down players, like an old-school stopper, but it’s over-used. This works some times, and sometimes it leaves Tomori out of position. This is on Pioli to correct. Either he must be instructed to be more judicious, or to only press in certain situations. We did not see this vicious press prior to Tomori’s arrival, as neither Kjaer or Romagnoli had the pace to effectuate it. Speaking of Kjaer, his positioning is the best of the bunch, but he’s also the slowest. He lost a step with this latest injury, already having been the slowest of the CB group. While he does bring a kind of stability to the line, I’ve seen him beat for pace more than once. At the end of the day, I’d rather take a risk on Tomori being out of position and having to catch up, than having Kjaer get left in the dust, as there is no chance in making a tackle in the latter situation. I think what we really need is for Gabbia or Thiaw to make a step up so they can be paired with Tomori and provide the deeper security to his pressing.

  3. Only make a loan of Ziyech with a salary partly paid by Chelsea, and I would bring back Kessie on loan. They must give space and opportunity to Charles and Divock. Also, Ibrahimovic could make something in 30 or 40 minutes of play. Any other transfers would be pointless except if it is a cheap opportunity.

    1. Or how about just someone like Kessie on a permanent transfer, since we’re still going to have to deal with this issue when Kessie returns to Barcelona from his loan? Let’s move on from Kessie. He’s gone and yes we didn’t appropriately replace him, but let’s move forward.

      1. Kessie this, Kessie that. People are seriously trying to live in the past and it’s so sad really. Move on people, move on. Kessie’s not coming back.

  4. Keyboard warriors being quick to say Tomori wasn’t the MOTM. If we were to pick a player whose performance both good & bad stood out throughout the 90 mins, who would that be??

    Bloody trolls on here

    1. I would give it to Vranckx before I would give it to Tomori. You are basically giving him MOTM because the VAR missed the penalty. It was a penalty and Tomori is constantly having to chase guys down from behind because of his over-aggressiveness

  5. I think this tomori is below par this season and when he was superb he was actually called for England I just wanna qoute Maldini if u need to make a tackle u already made a mistake and I think he makes a lot od tackles but he is our best cv that is without a doubt with kalulu not sure in big games somehow I simply think his concentration this season is off maybe its coz of maignan we will see I quess 🙂

  6. Bennacer and Tonali can’t dominate a midfield when the opponents pack the mid it’s numerically impossible. Give them an additional true midfielder like Vranckx or Pobega to share the load and we will instantly improve. Also give some consistency at the back and stick with Tomori and Gabbia as CB and RB as Kalulu. The only time this should change in the future is when Calabria is back and fully healthy. We can piece in the other players but not in crucial games v hard opponents.

    With this we stay stable and strong in mid and defense. Attack is a whole other story. We are awful in attack unless Leao and Giroud are firing on all cylinders….

  7. It’s weird that nobody notices that the reason Tomori is always making these last ditch effort tackles from behind is because he is always getting caught out of position. And let’s not pretend that it wasn’t a penalty on Ikone. It was. You can see why he didn’t cut it in the Premier League. I’m happy to have him at Milan, he can make up for most of his mistakes in Serie A because he is faster than most of the players here. As you saw with his performance in the 2 games against Chelsea and even the Liverpool games last season, when he doesn’t have the speed advantage , like against the premier league teams, he is getting beat and badly. I like the passion that he plays with, but he has to play more under control and a little more conservative, especially when playing against top teams. He can learn from Kjaer. There is a reason Milan have only conceded 1 goal this season whe Kjaer has been in there. It’s not all about pace.

    1. “There is a reason Milan have only conceded 1 goal this season whe Kjaer has been in there. It’s not all about pace.”

      Ah. So nice to see someone to understand something about defending.

  8. Finally people are starting to be honest about Tonali, although still making excuses, like he’s tired. I would ver happily have Tonali as a number 3 midfielder, but not an every game starter. He just doesn’t bring enough to the table. Offensively or defensively. I wouldn’t mind seeing Vranckx get a few starts along side Bennacer.

Comments are closed

Serie A Standings

Live football scores . Current table, fixtures & results.