A disjointed and lacklustre display: Tactical analysis of AC Milan Women’s loss to Inter

By Steph Insixiengmay -

AC Milan Women lost the Derby Della Madonnina to Inter last Sunday. It was the first time the team had lost a derby to the Nerazzurre in the league. Down below is a breakdown of everything that went wrong.

The first half

Inter started the game off by defending as an organized unit, letting Milan have the ball, but only in their own half.

The Nerazzurre would counter this by pressing high and pouncing on opportunities that came their way. Milan had problems maintaining possession and holding the ball. This was partially due to the intensity of the first ten minutes as both teams started aggressively as they battled in duels and battled for second balls.

Both teams played directly with the intent of getting to the opposition’s half with short, incisive passes. Inter took the lead in the thirteenth minute after Karchouni found Kathellen’s header on the second post. Milan opted for zonal marking of the corner and it cost them the first goal. In particular, Árnadóttir was out of position and was caught ball watching rather than watching the player behind her. The goal shocked Milan who spent the next minutes trying to urgently come up with a response. Their response, however, was hampered by misplaced passes and by losing a lot of duels. Their confidence was shaken and they didn’t seem as comfortable on the ball.

Inter, on the other hand, were buoyed by that goal and gained confidence as the game went on. They played in 4-3-3 with Ajara Nchout Njoya as the main central striker, while being flanked by Marta Pandini on the left and Henrietta Csiszár on the right. Gloria Marinelli and Ghoutia Karchouni played more centrally and defensively. Tatiana Bonetti was the third midfielder in the setup and she was given a free-range role where she tried to dictate the rhythm of play. She was also the link between the midfield and the attack. The majority of Inter’s attacks started through her.

The Nerazzurre’s Njoya proved to be an absolute joy for the guests, as she held up play and waited for the midfield players to join the attack or pass to the wingers with diagonal, forward balls. She also contributed to the defence, as she tracked back to help her team defend. Milan tried to build most of their attacks on the right-hand side, however, most of their crosses were poor and Inter’s defence handled them with ease. Lindsey Thomas seemed to be the worst culprit when it came to launching those inaccurate passes. Their inaccurate passes would lead to a fatal mistake, as in the 27th minute, Bonetti capitalized on a wrong pass from Adami who ten found herself being outnumbered in a 2 vs 1 situation.

Bonetti then found Njoya who fired off a brilliant goal from distance. The score then became 2-0 for the guests.

Although Milan had the majority of chances and possession, Inter were more clinical, as they converted both of their shots on target. Not content to rest on their laurels, the Nerazzurre would have the opportunity to triple their advantage just a few minutes after Greta Adami conceded a penalty inside the box. After Inter won their penalty from a corner, Karchouni would step up to the spot and score a beautiful Panenka shot. And with that, Milan were down 3-0.

The tactics

Milan had their first real chance to score after a poor ball by Inter fullback Merlo. Thomas took the ball and passed it to Giacinti who made a solo run towards the goalkeeper, but Francesca Durante saved it. Thomas would then miss the follow-up shot. Milan’s other problem is that they did not close down the midfield properly and Tatiana Bonetti was given a lot of space and time to dictate the tempo of the game. Her dribbling, vision, and passes, gave the Rossonere a lot of problems and disrupted their defensive shape. Milan also couldn’t find a solution for Inter’s high press and that led to the team making a lot of wrong passes and intentionally putting the ball out of play.

However, Inter couldn’t keep up the intensity of their play for too long and that allowed Milan to gradually come back into the game. This was evident by how Giacinti went 1v1 with the goalkeeper and aimed the ball at the bar. Giacinti was not as sharp in front of goal and it seemed like a lot of players were out of shape. The fact that Inter’s defence successfully kept her away from the ball during the first 30 minutes of the match just added to her woes. Another example of underperforming players were both Refiloe Jane and Greta Adami.

The two, normally solid midfielders had problems containing Bonetti’s movements and Karchouni’s aggression, as the latter won most of her duels with them during the first half. The fullbacks also suffered throughout the game, as both Valentina Bergamaschi and Sara Thrige Andersen had to concentrate more on playing defensively as they were overwhelmed on defence and couldn’t contribute to the offensive build-up.

Both teams were not looking to keep the balls for long periods and tried to play directly through vertical passes and long balls. They also battled for every centimetre of the pitch, but Inter had more flair and ideas on the ball. Milan had two great chances in the 55th and 59th minute through Giacinti, but neither were converted.

The second half

In the second half, Inter opted for a low block in their own half to preserve their lead and tried to hit Milan on the counterattack.

Milan had the majority of possession and it resulted in a lot of corners. However, they failed to find the back of the net. Both Inter and Milan made substitutions within minutes of each other, with the Nerazzurre making theirs in the 62nd minute and the Rossonere substituting Nina Stapelfeldt in at the 65th-minute mark. Milan then switched to 4-4-2 with Grimshaw moving to the wings on the right, Thomas on the left, and Stapelfeldt joined Giacinti in attack.

Csiszár moved more to the middle as holding midfielder for Inter and managed to do quite well in that position. The Hungarian was calm on the ball and her steeliness helped the Nerazzurre evade Milan’s high press. Although the Rossonere had many chances to score, they could not capitalize on them.

Inter then saw the game out with expert game management as they did not take many risks and kept their composure. They maintained their solid, compact defensive shape throughout the second half.

And by doing so, they won the Derby della Madonnina for the first time in Serie A Femminile.


The Rossonere did not play well and looked lost on the pitch. The team wasn’t organized and they also looked timid and nervous. Unlike the cohesive unit that played together last year, this current Milan side looked rather disjointed and out of sorts with one another.

The nervous looks and small debates they had with each other when it came to freekicks and corners are one example of this. Perhaps they would have performed better if their deadball specialists (Linda Tucceri Cimini and Vero Boquete) were not either injured or not convened for this game.

The inner turmoil off the pitch seems to be affecting the team in many ways and it seeped into their performance on the pitch.

The team also looks like it gave up during the game. Something needs to happen to reinvigorate the team and to lift their morale, and it needs to happen soon.

Otherwise, the team faces the very real risk of finishing outside of the top two spots and not meeting their objective of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Up Next

The AC Milan Women will play Juventus this Sunday. The match will take place at the Vinovo in Torino, Italy, and kickoff time will be at 15:00 CET.

READ MORE: Probable Milan XI to face Udinese – Pioli settles on three changes

Tags AC Milan Women Inter Femminile Serie A Femminile
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