Beating the block and build-up to Kessie’s howitzer: Tactical analysis of Milan’s win over Parma

By Oliver Fisher -

Milan won their crunch midweek game against Parma, coming from behind to secure a 3-1 victory at San Siro.

The Rossoneri made it five wins out of seven in Serie A since the lockdown but they had to come from behind against a resilient Parma side, who took a first half lead through Kurtic.

Kessie levelled with an absolute howitzer from 30 yards, before Romagnoli’s header and another striker from distance from Calhanoglu sealed the comeback win to move Milan level on points with Napoli.

Here is a tactical analysis of the game, courtesy of Rohit Rajeev

1. Parma’s deep block: We all knew that Parma would sit deep and defend against Milan and use their explosive pace upfront to launch counters. Parma had a blow early in the game when Cornelius was injured. They defended in a 4-5-1 as seen below…

2. Milan, to counter the deep block, played a 3-4-2-1 as opposed to the 3-4-3 they usually play. Smooth short passing and excellent off the ball movement from Ibrahimovic, Bonaventura and Calhanoglu made it difficult for Parma.

As shown in the image below, Hakan would drop deep into midfield to collect the ball and would be followed by Grassi or Kulusevski, creating space for Theo to make a run or Bonaventura to occupy the space created by Parma’s shift. Ibra would then take up Jack’s position.

3. Parma counter attacks: Parma, as is their modus operandi, counter really fast. In this particular instance, Karamoh plays a quick vertical pass to Gervinho and continues his run.

Kjaer is then distracted by Karamoh’s run while Theo Hernandez is occupied by Kulusevski. This puts Gervinho 1-on-1 against Romagnoli who isn’t the fastest defender. Gervinho beats the captain and goes through on goal against Donnarumma, but shoots well over.

4. Parma goal: Once again a vertical pass finds Gervinho and he runs towards the right wing. Kulusevski makes a run on near to the touch line and draws Theo away.

This – in tandem with Kjaer following Gervinho – creates a space behind Kjaerr and Kulusevski. This is spotted by Grassi who makes a run from behind Kessie and darts past a slow-to-react Biglia. Gervinho spots the run and puts it to Grassi who crosses it to Kurtic for Parma’s only goal.

5. Kessie goal: While the shot alone was brilliant individual piece of work, it was borne from some brilliant off the ball movement from Kessie, Theo and Calhanoglu.

Hakan was in possession on the left wing, with Darmian to his left and Kulusevski blocking his passing lanes. Theo comes from behind Kulusevski and plays a quick 1-2 with Hakan and draws the Swede away to open up a passing lane.

In the meantime, Kessie falls back from his advanced position and receives the ball, carrying it forward and scoring with a howitzer of a shot.

Tags AC Milan Milan Parma