AC Milan started off 2023 with a win against Salernitana and were set to pick up all three points against Roma, but crumbled in the final ten minutes of the game. They conceded twice and thus drew the game.
Milan started the game well and created a few good chances, eventually opening the scoring in the 30th minute through a well-placed header courtesy of Pierre Kalulu after a corner kick.
The game continued to look as if Milan were certain to win it despite the mere one-goal advantage, as they dominated Roma throughout the game. That eventually paid off and in the 77th minute, Tommaso Pobega scored a goal off the bench to double the Rossoneri’s lead.
Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse as Ibanez managed to get one back in the 87th minute, which gave Roma the energy to go forward and pursue a second goal. Milan’s defence couldn’t hold on, conceding again in the 93rd minute, and again from a set-piece. Here are five things we learned…
1. Calabria an obvious upgrade
As Calabria struggled with an injury in the past few months, Milan too struggled in the right-back position as nobody was able to bring the same stability as the Italian.
Davide had a good game against Salernitana and continued to trend against Roma as he had several good interceptions and was really not at fault for any of the goals.
2. Giroud continues to struggle
Following a rather disappointing game against Salernitana, the Frenchman didn’t impress against Roma either.
The striker is dependent on the service he gets and he didn’t really have much to work with on the night, but he did have a good chance after a cross from Calabria, but he sent the ball to the centre of the goal not really threatening the keeper.
Excluding that chance he had, he offered little to nothing and it might be about time he gets some rest. Unfortunately for Pioli, he doesn’t actually have anybody to replace him with at this point.
3. Bennacer crucial in the midfield
The Algerian was once again the heart of this Milan side as he dictated the tempo well involving himself in both phases of the game. He eventually got off as he had a yellow card and it was wise to sub him off.
His absence, however, was felt as Milan struggled to control the game and keep the ball safe in the last 10 minutes of the game and one might argue that it would’ve been a different story with Bennacer on the pitch.
4. Mixed feelings at the back
Kalulu and Tomori had a good game up to the 85th minute as they allowed next to nothing for the opposition. Kalulu especially looked much sharper compared to the Salernitana game.
Unfortunately for them, the last 10 minutes just ruined the whole performance as Roma scored twice from set-pieces highlighting the issue Milan has had for quite some time now.
On the first goal, Tonali lost Ibanez, but it just felt like chaos in that penalty box and it’s not fair to put the blame on Tonali alone, especially after Calabria explained how the mark set-pieces in his post-game interview.
Kalulu and Tomori should impose themselves more in situations like this and bring a certain stability but they’ve failed to do so continuously and it’s becoming a big issue for Milan.
If we put the blame for the first goal on Tonali, then on the second there was also a free header for Matic before the goal. It’s simply unacceptable to allow free headers.
5. Subs pose questions
Pioli did well with his substitutions as Pobega picked up the goal to double Milan’s lead. De Ketelaere and Vranckx were also good substitutes on paper to bring some freshness onto the pitch, but both failed to help in any way after coming on with the latter just giving away the free kick that resulted in Roma’s
From a tactical point of view, the substitutions were fine, but the Rossoneri’s depth hasn’t been all that convincing this season unfortunately the trend continues but is not all that surprising when you take into account the age of each player that came on.