AC Milan 2-2 Roma: Five things we learned – mixed feelings and doubts

By Ivan Stoev -

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.

Tags AC Milan AS Roma Serie A


  1. No one seems to mention Gabbia. That giraffe was brought in to help in aerial duels and is impact was… Well, he could have been on the sidelines and the outcome would have been the same. He was completely and utterly useless.

    1. Gabbia marked Smalling who didn’t get free. Both Kalulu and Tomori were on Tammy and he still got free. Also Tomori was equally if not more at fault than Tonali for goal 1 on Ibanez. Look, it’s well known Tomori and Kalulu are great markers and on the ground defenders but both struggle hard aerially and always have.

  2. We need a taller left-footed starting caliber CB.
    Kalulu and Tomori should not play together. One of them is a fullback learning on the job how to play as CB, while the knock on the other since his Chelsea days have been that he sucks on high balls.
    Also, the captain or the coach needs to step up and say something to Tomori because in almost every game, he is trying to show up and publicly embarrass Tatarusanu. Tata is far from good GK, but every player makes mistakes, he is the best we got available and true teammates support each other. Also, Tomori is the last one that should try to blame others since he has been constantly exposed this year without Kessie providing the extra defensive protection.

  3. They don’t mention him by name but only talk about “subs” … and while I liked Vranckx in his previous appearances, he was terrible in this match and made 3 huge mistakes in a row leading to the 2nd goal. He should’ve had an easy interception near midfield when Leao was alone on the left and would’ve had a one on one break and maybe could’ve scored to make it 3-1 if Vranckx just got the ball like he should. Instead, he missed the ball somehow and committed a foul and then committed an even worse stupid foul conceding a free kick in a dangerous area off of which they scored their 2nd goal.

    Also, Calabria was goo; but not great like they make him out to be in this article. He had a bad pass give away in the first half and he was completely embarrassed by Zalewski at about 41st min mark when he went running out toward Zalewski out of control, horribly got fooled by Zalewski’s fake and Calabria went flying out toward the sideline while Zalewski cut inside all alone just inside the box and unleashed a nice shot that just BARELY went wide of the right post and Tata would’ve had no chance to stop it. We were VERY lucky that didn’t make the score level 1-1 from that terrible defending by Calabria.

    Dest was actually excellent for USA in the World Cup and I think his confidence is back. I would like to see Dest get another chance at either RW for Saelemakers or RB for Calabria.

    1. I like Vranckx too and agree he lead the charge in giving the game away which was hugely disappointing. I was thinking he’s starting to looking like he could emerge as a concrete backup option. But that was disastrous and he clearly needs to improve his reading of the game.
      For your point on Calabria yes those were two mistakes but he also had several chance denying tackles in the first half. He’s clearly still working his way back from the long absence as he faded a bit and his passing was off rhythm. But for stretches he looked better than Kalulu at RB. Dest is a defensive error waiting to happen and I think he’d be a like for like with Saelemaekers in the RW. Would prefer to see him over Messias though as he is faster and stronger and just as technical.

    2. ” I would like to see Dest get another chance ”

      So you criticize Calabria for letting his man pass him ONCE yet want Dest on the pitch? LOL. You do know that Dest cannot defend at all???

  4. Oh, and I meant to say agree w/ the article that Bennacer needs to remain on the pitch. He’s just too valuable and does so many great things defensively and offensively. He is everywhere and so smart and strong and tenacious. Never stops. If he stayed on and Vranckx never came on, we win vs Roma.

  5. What are we writing? Kessie value was 55 million eur, Hakan 35, Alessio 27m and Donnarumma 55 mil. American owner left them for free and they invested 18 mil in Maignan who is injured a lot of time. You can’t leave 180 million valuable squad depth for free and think you have better squad than ever. They still didn’t invest not even penny, Vranckx is on loan, Dest also, Pobega is our guy, and Krunic is far away for Kessie replacement. They insist on Rebic who is 1 third of contract injured, and they bring injured Origi for free.
    We need less fans at San Siro untill all Americans owners leave Italy.

    1. Yeah Italians have been really good at winning trophies and qualifying for tournaments 🤣🤣🤣. Did you follow Milan last year!? Or even this year? Notice the scudetto on their shirt? How’d they get that? Under what ownership? God you are the worst kind of fan. Disloyal and ignorant, what a terrible combo…

    2. What owners would you have? Arabs or Russians who happen to have lakes of oil under their feet? Otherwise money doesn’t grow on trees. Chelsea, who has American owners, has spent 344m Euros this season. They’re 10th in the league. *10th*. There is a lesson there about spending money for the sake of spending money. Also, our lucky opponents this past weekend, who are American owned, have spent a ton of money in the last couple summers and even hired the “Special One” and they’re still struggling to break into the top 4.

      ALSO, we’re still under a UEFA settlement agreement that if violated will result in a ban from European competition. This agreement puts limitations on how much we can spend vs. revenue. Also, new FFP rules limit clubs to spending 70% of income from football related activities. I have to repeat this fact ad nauseum. Guess what our ownership has been going about doing? Increasing revenue streams.

      Money printing PSG has spent 1.6 BILLION, and money printing Man City 1.8 BILLION, over the last 10 years and have ZERO champions leagues to show for it. Sure they dominate their leagues (not completely in City’s case by the way), but everyone knows what they truly want is the CL.

      We won the title last season after almost 10 years in the wilderness on a fraction of the budget of an Inter now desperate to balance the books, and of a Juventus that balances the books by cheating. We’re second this season, despite injuries and “terrible” players only behind another club that spends wisely. We’re in our second year in the CL after not having participated for (and received revenue from) 8 years, and we’re on track for a 3rd season in a row. So I’m not sure what the problem is with the ownership.

      1. “Money printing PSG has spent 1.6 BILLION, and money printing Man City 1.8 BILLION, over the last 10 years and have ZERO champions leagues to show for it. Sure they dominate their leagues (not completely in City’s case by the way), but everyone knows what they truly want is the CL.”

        And PSG hasn’t even won the championship every year even though there’s really only 1-3 teams equipped to win the league. In EPL & Serie A there’s more competition . even if Juve did win “a couple” of scudettos in a row.

      2. So, you’d rather have this, where we cannot build and improve upon previous (title-winning) seasons because we lack the funds for it and will inevitably go back to being a mid-table team struggling to get European places in a few years? I’d take any Arab billionaire over this crap, as long as we get the money, I don’t care. We can’t even compete with West Ham these days. It’s also only a matter of time before City of PSG win the Champion’s League, like it or not. Why? Because they have money!

        1. Insaneorssonoero, how are you going from first to mid-table? “It’s only a matter of time?” OK, so if we had owners that were spending 100m per season, but were finishing, 2nd, 3rd, 4th you’d be happier? And yeah, we can’t compete with West Ham. Nobody can compete with the EPL. It’s a league that earns 10.6 BILLLION POUNDS from foreign and domestic TV deals. HELLO.

  6. Five things we really learned.
    1) The depth on this team is atrocious, and that falls on Maldini and management.
    2) We can never take Bennacer off the pitch. If we do the midfield goes to sh*t.
    3) You cannot have 2 undersized CB’s playing together. If Kjaer is healthy he should be in there. They also need to sign a good, big CB. They’ve been getting destroyed on set pieces all season and that also falls on Pioli.
    4) Winter signings desperately needed. See the first 3 for the reasons why.
    5) You can’t blame Tonali for anything even when it is clearly his fault. I don’t know how many times I’ve read about Tonali losing his mark, followed by excuses as to why it’s not really his fault.

  7. Once again ridiculous comments.

    Had Pellegrini‘s free kick not bounced off the back of a player and landed on Magic’s head they wouldn’t have scored the second goal, Milan would’ve won, and there’d be none of these comments.

    Gabbia had nothing to do with the goals. If anyone was to blame Vranckx shouldn’t have given away the free kick (but it’s difficult to avoid when an experienced player like Dybala is looking for it) and Tomori should’ve done a better job marking, but the goals could’ve been avoided altogether had we held onto the ball more at the end.

    But these things happen in football. They happened on multiple occasions to the great Ancelotti team against Ajax, Deportivo and Liverpool.

    The answer to every negative result is not to go out and sign some new shiny player.

    Could you imagine if that it how any other business or organisation operated?

    It doesn’t hit a particular target (Milan are currently ahead of targets) and they sack half the workers and replace them with new ones (every 4-6 months changing 25% of the workforce).

    We need to relax. There are things we can learn from this – mainly keeping the ball. There’s still a long way to go. Both in this season and for this team.

    1. Lol, can you imagine this crowd witnessing the losses in 2004 against Deportivo or 2005 v. Liverpool? They would have been calling for Ancelotti to get sacked, or for Maldini to be benched or something. SHEVCHENKO SUCKS HE MISSED A SITTER IN EXTRA TIME BUY HENRY. No doubt most of these people weren’t even alive in 2005.

      1. What absolute rubbish. Those teams were incredible and those were two moments of madness. No comparison. We were arguably the best team in Europe back then and we winning trophies or coming close to winning them consistently in what was probably the toughest league in the world. This team is far from that, and we need to call out bad management, bad coaching and bad players when they don’t perform.

        1. What you say makes it even worse that we dropped a 4-1 first leg lead to Deportivo, doesn’t it? And the Roma game isn’t a “moment of madness”? 2 goals in 5 minutes at the end of the match? We’re second and the season is literally not even at the halfway point. Anyway, the real Milan fans, i.e. the ones that live in Milan would seem to disagree with you, since we’re selling out every home game and our average attendances are at levels not seen since the 90s. If that’s not an endorsement of the club’s direction then I’m not sure what is.

  8. idk why ppl are on vranckx that much guy doesnt get that many minutes and most teams defend set pieces its our weakness that we didnt the set piece. Yea ik he can prove to be a flop but lets not get mad at such mistake

  9. I find it comical those that cite Man City and PSG as clubs we would NOT want to emulate because they haven’t won a CL LOLOLOLOLO….are you donkeys serious? YA nobody wants to be PSG or Man City – hahahahahaha. Jesus. Money doesn’t guarantee you titles. However with proper management (Au like Li/Mirabelli/Fassone combo) it gives you the opportunity to compete for them by signing the best players have it top notch staff/coaches and facilities. You conveniently forget that we used to be Man City or PSG under Berlusconi. Nobody complained then. He outspent nearly everyone. Nobody called his money “dirty”. Complete double standard but not surprising at all. And it’s interesting how you qualify your statements – “League doesn’t count only CL does” LOL. Well we haven’t won CL in almost 20 years and it took us 11 years to win a league title – so what does that make us?? LOL. Juve hasn’t won since 2002. Are they shot with all their league titles despite “playing in a harder league”? Such amature and boarderline prejudice comments against (Arab ownership). Can’t wait until Newcastle poaches some of our players with their “oil money” lol. Give me Man City any day of the week. We should dream of becoming such a club. Now hopefully Redbird turns us into Liverpool that would be great. But no need to bag on “Arab ownership” – they seem to be doing just fine

  10. The fact is we drew a game we should have won .
    The substitutions were wrong ,but to single out Olivier Giroud out is completely wrong ,as he has been a superb signing ..We seem to forget easily that only last season we won the scuddeto yes with Olivier Giroud.We would not have won it without him ..
    He had a superb World Cup with France ..Yes he needs a rest ,and this should come against Torino .
    Another who needs a rest is rafeol leao ..his last game was poor ,and his final ball absent ..That is not a criticism as he is a world class player …I thought salemakers last game was good ..why was he substituted,and why in the second half did we keep passing the ball backwards..That said we are still in the scuddeto race and can win it again ..Plenty more goals to come from Olivier Giroud,and Rafael leao ..
    Just give them a rest for one game against Torino .
    We will come back stronger ,we have been wounded .
    Big games coming up ,including champions leauge against Tottenham,which I believe we will win .
    So all fans keep believing ,all is not lost ..

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