AC Milan 2-2 Bologna: Five things we learned – opposition duo shine and lack of impact

By Ivan Stoev -

After four consecutive wins in the league, AC Milan were hoping to make it five against Bologna and continue to put pressure on Juventus as well as Inter. However, the game finished in a disappointing 2-2 draw for the Rossoneri. 

The game seemed to be pretty much in Milan’s control in the first half as they had a couple of chances and dominated possession. However, after a moment of uncertainty at the back, Bologna struck first through Joshua Zirkzee in the 29th minute.

Milan didn’t need a lot of time to react as they were awarded a penalty in the 42nd minute, which unfortunately Olivier Giroud missed. The Rossoneri kept plugging on, though, and got the equaliser before the break thanks to Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

After the break, in the 75th minute, Milan were awarded another penalty after a great solo run by Rafael Leao. Once again, however, it wasn’t meant to be from the spot as Theo Hernandez also failed to score. The frustration peaked, understandably so, but Loftus-Cheek came up big again.

The Englishman scored with a great header in the 83rd minute and it looked as though he would be the hero. However, with a third penalty of the game being awarded, Bologna found the equaliser in the 92nd minute through Riccardo Orsolini.

And whilst the frustration was building up, Loftus-Cheek was once again the main man for his team, finding the back of the net in the 83rd minute through a lovely header which put Milan in front just 10 minutes before the final whistle. Here are five things we learned:

1. Bologna duo passing the test

Let’s start with the opposition. Bologna played a really good game despite conceding two penalties, managing to stay in the game and striking at the perfect moments.

For this performance, we have to give credit to Thiago Motta, who has done a fantastic job this season. But also Zirkzee, who scored the opener and was a constant threat for Milan during the 90 minutes.

And that’s potentially a good thing for Milan – despite the poor result – because the duo has been linked with the Rossoneri in recent weeks. If this was the official audition, then both passed with flying colours.

Zirkzee looks like a striker that Milan hasn’t had for quite a while, capable of beating his man and creating chances out of nothing. But that’s not all because we saw some great vision and passes too, just as his hold-up play was solid.

The only question mark is whether he can truly have an immediate impact or not, with Milan needing a top-class striker for next season.

2. Man of the moment

Ruben Loftus-Cheek is enjoying the start of the year in some fashion with 4 goals scored already, winning the MOTM award in our player ratings.

The Englishman has improved in the last couple of games and he’s just managed to be efficient in the final third. This is something that he had been struggling with earlier in the season, not finding himself in the right positions.

Against Bologna, we saw a great box-to-box performance from the midfielder who had a slightly more advanced role and used his physicality and positioning well on both goals.

Unfortunately for him, the brace was not enough because of poor performances at the back, but he can only be happy with his display and continue with the good work.

3. French duo disappoint

We have become used to praising Hernandez and Giroud lately as both have been pivotal for the recent positive performances.

This time around, however, Giroud missed the penalty that was going to bring his team level and was a shadow on the pitch throughout the game. There was certainly a clear contrast to Zirkzee who, in addition to the goal, was always on the ball and caused trouble.

Hernandez, meanwhile, wasn’t as efficient as in recent weeks when going forward. This would have been fine if he had done his defensive duties well. But he failed to track back on the first goal and was rinsed by Orsolini on the second one which led to the penalty.

And to top off the horrible defensive performance, he missed the second penalty that was awarded to Milan in an even more delicate situation compared to the first ones. Disappointing from the left-back, but it was just one of those days.

4. The good and the bad

It was another frustrating night for Rafael Leao as he failed to get on the scoresheet once again. But the more worrying part was his overall performance, as he just wasn’t efficient when he got into the final third.

He did win the penalty in the second half after a trademark run, but up until that moment, he didn’t make an impact. Bologna were keeping a very close eye on him, of course, but the Portuguese winger had a couple of chances where he could have done more.

Unfortunately for him, this is not something new as he has struggled throughout the whole season, really. The future will be very interesting, not to mention the next few weeks, as there is a lot of raw talent that needs digging out.

5. The bench disappoints this time around

Milan have benefitted from some quality subs in recent weeks, with the previous round coming to mind. Okafor and Jovic both came off the bench then to help the Rossoneri beat Udinese in the dramatic 3-2 affair.

Therefore, it wasn’t unreasonable to expect some impact off the bench against Bologna too, but the only positive was Florenzi, who got the assist on the second goal. Musah too, as he did a lot of dirty work but failed to help in the attack.

Okafor and Jovic were pretty much invisible, which was far from ideal, but the biggest flop was Terracciano. He didn’t look confident to begin with and gifted Bologna the draw with that silly tug of the shirt. A really poor performance for him and an overall poor one for Milan’s bench.

Tags AC Milan Bologna Serie A


  1. 6. We got so bad at set pieces that we’re not even able to score penalties anymore
    7. While it’s not pioli’s fault that we can’t score penalties, he still has a lot of work to do in the defensive department. It’s simply way too easy to score against us.
    8. Despite the fact that we could have won 4-2, Bologna pretty much outplayed us.
    9. While we do well against small fryes, we once again struggle against live resistance.
    10. is it me or every player seem to have regressed ? (I don’t count Gabbia he barely came back)

    1. Agreed.

      Regressed from what?

      What’s the base line?

      For the Scudetto winners I suppose the base line is their Scudetto winning form:

      – Maignan – is not having a good season;
      – Kjaer – is doing well despite age;
      – Calabria – still as solid as ever/rarely worry about him;
      – Theo – always had weaknesses defending but had better midfielders in front;
      – Leao – not having a great season;
      – Giroud – similar to Kjaer doing well despite his age.

      The rest are all new so I don’t what base line we’re using. But we can say:

      – we replaced Tonali with Adli (who wasn’t able to make the first team last season);
      – Bennacer (through nobody’s fault) with Reijnders (I have no idea what his level is yet);
      – Kessie (through nobody’s fault) with RLC – at least they have similar characteristics;


      Pulisic – for Saelemaekers – a clear improvement.

      Then there’s the DEPTH but the problem with DEPTH and the 5 sub rule is the manager uses 5 subs.

      1. “Regressed from what?
        What’s the base line?”

        I should have put a baseline, although it depend on the player, but I’d say even compared to recent games this season alone.
        -Leao doesn’t seem to improve.
        -Pulisic has regressed compared to older games, at least statistically wise.
        -Theo seemed to start to get back his form but overall this season is his worst.
        -Maignan is not as rock solid as he used to be (perhaps thinking about leaving ?)
        -Calabria is a bit of an exception but always alternate between good games and bad games. His Bologna’s games is good.
        -RLC while he is the MVP this game, is the not the RLC of the first 3 games or the PSG games, and certainly not a replacement of Kessie.
        -Reijnders is worse than the first 2 games.
        -Adli has improved but this is not his best game.
        -Bennacer has been ruined because of this injuries.

  2. 1. We got so bad at set pieces that we’re not even able to score penalties anymore
    2. While it’s not pioli’s fault that we can’t score penalties, he still has a lot of work to do in the defensive department. It’s simply way too easy to score against us.
    3. Despite the fact that we could have won 4-2, Bologna pretty much outplayed us.
    4. While we do well against small fryes, we once again struggle against live resistance.
    5. is it me or every player seem to have regressed ? (I don’t count Gabbia he barely came back)

  3. Motta and Zirkzee definitely pass the test and hopefully will be at Milan next season.
    Motta team plays with so much solidity. Everyone knows what they are supposed to do, Unlike Pioli.
    We constantly read how Milan should sign a big name striker, a 20-30 goalscorer a year, but no one mentions who those strikers are because there is so few of them.
    What strikers in Europe guarantees you 20-30 goals a season? Haaland, Kane, old Lewandowski, Lautaro, that’s it.
    Vlahovic hasn’t had 20 goals in 2 years.
    Osimhen did it only once and this season he has scored 2 more goals than Leao.
    Liverpool, ManUtd, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, PSG, Real Madrid, etc, none has a 20 + a year striker.
    The goal is to bring in a striker that will allow the team to score more goals. Zirkzee with his movements, skill, speed, passing, etc will allow players around him to score more goals. And with better teammates around he will score more goals too.
    Don’t forget that he is only 22 and he will only get better and score more.
    Btw Osimhen didn’t score over 20 goals in a season until he was 24.
    He has everything to become a great striker.
    Zirkzee or Sesko should be on the top of the list and both are worth the 50 mil.
    Zirkzee is ready to step right in. He is more polished, more mature and adapted to the league. There shouldn’t be any doubt about signing him.
    Sesko has enormous potential, but you will have to wait for him for couple years before you get the desired production from him.

    1. Pure guess work about Motta.

      You have no idea how he’d do at Milan. He could be sacked after 4 games. If he’s a success it will be mostly luck. There is a certain Liverpool manager who has recently become available…

      As for Zirkzee – more guess work and speculation.

      Wouldn’t we better off signing some striker who has won it all.

      Another Giroud to replace Giroud.

  4. It was a strange game. Two penalties missed (one was a gift) but we still played well enough to deserve a win. Not at his best, but Leao was decisive in a way, winning the penalty and playing his part in the second goal. Theo let us down defensively yesterday.
    Something else is still lacking. The midfield is still not functioning as a unit. The gap between them and the defense for the first goal was massive and it’s something we’ve seen too often this season. The good teams cut through them. Offensively they’ve improved a bit but still not linking up well with the attack. Individually though, they have all improved and it’s nice to see Loftus Cheek and Adli chipping in with goals recently.
    We are sitting comfortably in third place, there have been a lot of positives recently, the feel good factor is back, but we need to make a run at the EL or maybe even Scudetto for some excitement.

    1. “We are sitting comfortably in third place, there have been a lot of positives recently, the feel good factor is back, but we need to make a run at the EL or maybe even Scudetto for some excitement.”
      We’re out of the scudetto by january. Can you elaborate on the positives and good factor ? Because aside from beating sitting ducks I don’t see anything.
      Realistically the EL is out of reach.

      1. II’ve said it at the beginning, after what happened with Maldini and Massara and the sale of Tonali on top of that, this season is a failure without a Scudetto. That being said, there’s no reason no to enjoy the little positives. Primavera players getting a shot and impressing, Adli doing better, Gabbia coming back, Pulisic doing well all season…etc.

          1. No you accepted mediocrity when you accepted the fact that Milan were a selling/wheeler-dealer club last summer.

            Any recovery from last summer is a positive.

  5. Time to cash in on leao and use the $ to upgrade. Switch from 4231 to 4312. Poli is out too… his 433 killed all our championship hopes 😢

    1. “Why critisize leao again LOL?”
      Leao 3 goals 5 assists,
      Lautaro 19 goals, 2 assists.
      But hey why would you criticize Leao when he makes one good run all game long after being put in the pocket of a 35 year old De Silvestri for the rest of the game.
      People are becoming tolerant to mediocrity.

      1. Lautaro who plays for our direct rivals as a striker and has never won anything with them?


        Leao OUR PLAYER who plays LW and who was critical to our Scudetto win and run to the semi-finals of the Champions League last season?

        If you love Lautaro so much go support Inter.

        1. As per usual nothing but pure nonsense from the keyboard warrior Maldini’s Heir.
          Lautaro Martinez has won a scudetto with inter along with 2 Copa Italia trophies and 3 supercopa trophies, one of them by whooping Pioli’s team in the final.
          He was also critical for inter to get to the final of the UCL after they whooped Pioli’s and Leao’s Milan again on the way there.
          Your emotional outburst here are well known.
          This is not about loving Lautaro , but pointing out what a best player on a team look like.
          I guess left winger is not required to score goals. You would have a better case for leao if he had 3 goals and 15 assists but instead he has 3 goals and 5 assists, only 3 assists more than Lautaro whose job is just to score goals according to a bumbling fool.
          Some of us are not meat heads and can appreciate great footballers even if they play for the biggest rival.
          Keep writing nonsense based on emotions and keep talking about what happened 2 years ago.

          1. I’m not actually being emotional.

            I’m again having to point out the fact that these are our players and these other players are someone else’s players (our rivals as it happens).

            You’re the one that can’t accept reality.

            The reason I tell people like you to go and support other teams that you’re jealous of is because it solves your problem with reality – in a very simple way.

            Because the whole rationale behind the emotion of supporting a football team and its players is you, well, support the football team and, well, the players.

            And if you don’t it defeats the whole logical, rationale reason to support a team.

            It’s the simplest thing in the world for you to go and support Inter. Go on. Nobody will know. Just enjoy them playing. Go for it.

            It’ll make you happier. And we won’t have to hear you insulting our players and the praising players of our direct rivals.

            Oh and you don’t seem to understand how form works.

          2. You sound like a child.
            Just because someone points out that inter best player is performing as a top player and Milan doesn’t, it doesn’t mean that they don’t support the club. We just pointing out facts.
            That’s why i said not everyone is a meat head that has to pretend that Milan player is good just because he is a Milan player and bash a great player on another team just because he isn’t a Milan player.
            You said Lautaro hasn’t won anything with inter and I gave you the facts that say otherwise, wo you come back with more childish and emotional nonsense.
            Age doesn’t mean maturity in your case.
            Also take your own advice. Since you don’t like how football has become a business, instead of writing essays every day here why don’t you just stop watching.
            It’ll make you happier. And we won’t have to see you drivel under every post.

          3. Why the name calling?

            The reason I have to continually point these things out to fans is because your attitude is exactly why Milan can’t return to being a great side.

            There’s simply no point the discussing other teams’ players because they’re not our players. I don’t care how many trophies he’s won, HE’S NOT OUR PLAYER.

            Some comparing him to our players is a complete waste of words, thoughts, energy, space, life. It’s just utterly pointless.

            And all this pointlessness leads to a never ending conveyor belt of players, constant upheaval, and makes building a stable, competitive side impossible.

            Because if we can’t settle on Leao, and we now have to go out find another Leao then we’ll just keep looking for Leao’s even though we found a perfectly good Leao who helped us win the Scudetto and who actually did help us get to the semi-finals of the champions league (making him by definition a player capable of helping a team win a Scudetto and getting to the semi-finals of the champions league).

            Honestly if you can’t get behind our best player, really what is the point?

          4. None of them is YOUR player.
            Your players are Petagna, Darmian, Acerbi, Cutrone, Cristante, etc. you know the bums that weren’t good enough to play at Milan but now play at other clubs and you still talk about them even though they are not Milan players.
            Isn’t that waste of time and words, but you still do it.
            Where does that fit into your
            “There’s simply no point in discussing other teams’ players because they’re not our players. I don’t care how many trophies he’s won, HE’S NOT OUR PLAYER.”
            Like I said, nothing but drivel coming from you.

          5. You’re not making any sense.

            If you can’r recognise former players as our/your players then I can’t really help.

            Try being less emotional.

        2. “Lautaro who plays for our direct rivals as a striker and has never won anything with them?”

          Sounds like you have noooooo idea who Lautaro is. 😀

    2. Even despite the fact that he hasn’t scored much…. Go and rewatch all Milan game this season… Leao has always been the major threat and mostly the most chances created 90% of goal was created or started by him… Check who created most before the goal assistant….. For the most recent Udinese was the person who started the jovic go and giroud goal, and that of RLC goal. Many more this season. You people should allow him to rest… PSG is ready to pick him up in replace of Mbappe

  6. This game came down to incidents.

    Another 5 minutes and we would’ve won.

    It therefore gets written off as a ‘what-might-have-been’/those crucial 7-10 points which cost us league places (maybe even titles).

    They can happen but they’re more likely to happen between those moments where:
    – 5 subs are brought on (because the rules now allow for 5 subs); and
    – one of those subs only arrived a few weeks ago at 20 years old from Verona.

    Not to lay into players (because that would make me a hypocrite) but…to lay into transfers (because that would make me consistent):

    – the fact of the matter is we sold Tonali and Krunic and we now have Adli filling in for both of them when he was not even considered first team material at the start of THIS season (as in last time we played Bologna) and frankly I have never seen anything from him that suggests he’s some world beating midfielder that we needed to go to all this
    trouble for especially when he doesn’t track back and Bologna get not-just-one-not-just-two-but-three chances to score.

    – what was the point of signing Terraciano in January when we’d only just started giving chances to players like Simic, Bartesaghi and Jiménez? Where is the focus here? There’s only 11 players allowed on the pitch so those other three were already going to struggle for game time and now we have 4th problem to solve (the problem being how to give players enough game time so they don’t do stupid s&*t like concede penalties).

    Any loss of direction in A match is in part caused by a lack of direction at manager level. That’s why CEO’s get paid the big bucks.

    1. I agree with most of what you say except for Tera. I am puzzles we don’t see more of Simic. Especially at the end of the game when we have a lead to defend.

      Sad we don’t see Barts. Inline what I’ve seen. Jimenez too but with a couple of reservations.

      However, our first three choices for CB from the start of the season (and the starters from the Scudetto) are.all out 4 more weeks at least.

      Once back it’s another 2-3 weeks to be match fit again. That’s a long time to be thin at CB.

      If another injury there we are hosed again. So bringing in an insurance a guy as flexible as Tera for the price makes sense.

      But … It should have been Simic in the field Sat.hes earned it and to your point we should be developing these kids.

      1. It’s simply a numbers game.

        We can’t play Simic AND Terra AND the other 35 players in our squad that we keep adding to like some obsessed hoarder next door.

        When we signed Terra and everyone else we limited other players opportunities, and the question we must keep asking with each signing is – is it worth it?

        Otherwise they all fail. As we keep seeing.

    2. You understand that Bologna dude would score anyway. It was Theo’s fault, he got badly schooled by Orsolini who then put in perfect cross to the far post where Terracciano stood and pulled that guy down. And I don’t understand bashing of Terracciano, Jimenez conceded penalty last time and everyone was like “well he’s young he’ll learn from this”. But not Terra no, we need to skin him alive. Another scapegoat for the spoiled in the making after Calabria.

      1. Well that’s pure speculation but he got himself on the wrong side of the player.

        But it’s not even his fault. He probably shouldn’t be on the pitch and if Covid hadn’t happened (and they hadn’t changed the stupid substitute rule) he wouldn’t have been.

        I wish they’d go back to 3 substitutes to stop competitor matches turning into preseason friendlies.

        1. “I wish they’d go back to 3 substitutes to stop competitor matches turning into preseason friendlies.”

          As if Milan didn’t suffer enough injuries with the 5 subs…

  7. Nothing shows how in modern football (and IT projects) everything is driven by ‘Big Idea’s’ and ‘Big Data’ v common sense more than the Short Corner/Lob The Ball In From An Indirect Free Kick Phenomenon.

    Apparently ‘data’ (like ‘Intelligence’ in Team America) says that, erm, teams score from 0.126749% of short corners v 0.116745% of long corners so we must take short corners.

    Never mind the fact that a corner kick should give a crosser and an attacker everything they could dream about – a cross from byline where the attacker can time their run precisely.

    But, nah, that’s too simple. Let’s take a short corner and stop-start-stop-start (is he crossing it or not) stop start (oh look we scored 5 minutes later data wins).

    Meanwhile let’s randomly lob balls in from indirect free kicks in the center of the pitch from about 40 yards out where the defence can play offside and defenders can attack headers front on….

    I mean does that data show that that actually leads to goals?

    It lead to the penalty (which is no way was a penalty as brilliantly demonstrated by Motta with a plastic bottle) but really that’s what professional football is these days????

    I hate (HATE) short corners and indirect free kicks anywhere outside the line of the box should be taken quickly.

    1. LOL … Knowinf a bit about IT projects I’d say you should check out DORA research and the associated metrics. The idea of replying more frequently to _decrease_ risk is/was counter intuitive. Data shows it is a big win for orgs. My own experience tracks with that data.

      My point is that common sense and obvious are not perfectly overlapping sets.

      Stats are only useful if they have contexts. Or, if they are significant. Our entire set piece approach this year seems largely ineffective..Let’s look at the stats and see if they match our sense of why. Then let’s adapt the stars to – over time – develop a competitive advantage. (Should smell like continuous improvement with your IT background 🙂 )

      1. Ha ha I know DORA and I know IT projects!

        Yes there is such a thing as data and things being counterintuitive but actually sport is all about intuition and basic logic.

        I just cannot see how anyone can possibly plan a set piece from a stop-start-stop-start short corner. Football is generally terrible at set pieces. Compare rugby where a kicker gets up having been battered by an opponent and kicks a peanut shaped ball from the touch line through the posts.

        For years rugby players and other professional sports stars have set ups and breathing techniques before they take set pieces. You don’t see this with footballers who can barely beat the first man.

        The whole thing is really quite amateur for a multimillion dollar sport!

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