Cremonese 0-0 AC Milan: Five things we learned – problems in attack persist

By Ivan Stoev -

Following the hard-fought win against Spezia, AC Milan were held to a -0-0 draw against Cremonese, a side that had no wins in Serie A (still don’t) and sat in 18th place in the standings.

Stefano Pioli was forced to make do with Theo Hernandez and Olivier Giroud, as both picked up cards against Spezia and were suspended. This allowed Divock Origi and Fode Ballo-Toure to start the game.

Despite the game looking like a no-brainer win for Milan, the away side struggled to create chances with the attacking players having a hard time trying to break down Cremonese’s low block, a problem that the Rossoneri have had for years now.

In the second half of the game, Pioli brought on Rafael Leao and Charles De Ketelaere, but the duo failed to impact the game and the gap to Napoli is now eight points. Here are five things we learned…

1. Origi yet to impress

The Belgian was given the chance to start in the absence of Giroud, but he failed to impose himself in the game. Origi has only one goal and one assist thus far in red and black and hasn’t really produced a great performance (except maybe Monza).

He was probably brought in with the idea of being a starter eventually, but at the moment he hasn’t even been good enough as a substitute, as harsh as that sounds. The management will need to find solutions in January if they want to stay in the Scudetto race.

2. No.10 position causing all sorts of troubles

De Ketelaere arrived in the summer for a hefty fee, but the Belgian has failed to impress and his performances have been worse lately compared to his first few appearances. It’s probably fair to say that the pressure has got to his head and he’s got some work to do.

That being said, we are talking about a player that is just 21 years old, who has made a big switch from the Belgian league to Serie A and Milan have to be patient with him. In that sense, it’s also fair to put some blame on the management for making his contribution such a focal point immediately.

Meanwhile, Brahim Diaz has had a lot of ups and downs as usual. The Spaniard has had some pretty impressive performances and seems way better compared to last season, but he has already had very clear lows even this campaign.

Pioli and his staff need to bring the best out of De Ketelaere after the World Cup or find another solution in January, because the team just can’t be competitive with a big hole in the middle of the pitch.

3. Disastrous by Rebic

The Croatian was painful to watch on the night as he couldn’t beat his man or complete a successful pass for that matter, which was unacceptable. In the second half, after Leao was introduced, he tried combing with Rebic, but he failed to complete a simple short pass on several occasions which seemingly frustrated the Portuguese and quite frankly it was understandable since you don’t expect someone earning millions to play like that.

Rebic has had some brilliant moments, but now might be the time to think about a replacement since even after his injuries, he has failed to get into form and has been very poor and the odd goal or assist is not enough.

4. Positive first start for Thiaw

Despite the underwhelming performance up front, Milan managed to keep a clean sheet which is a positive. Malick Thiaw also got his first start and he showed great promise. The youngster looked composed and really intelligent on and off the ball with his movements.

The centre-back was also involved in one of the more dangerous actions in Cremonese’s penalty box as he headed the ball nicely after a corner kick, but was denied by the keeper who just about managed to make a one-handed save. Thiaw might get more playing time after this.

5. Looking back at the transfer window 

After 20 games or so, it’s probably about time we reflect on that summer transfer window. Milan got Pobega, Adli, Thiaw, Vranckx, Dest, Origi and of course, De Ketelaere into the squad with pretty much all of them being unexperienced youngsters with the exclusion of Origi and De Ketelaere (to an extent, as he has played UCL).

Whilst expectations weren’t high for Pobega, Adli, Dest, Thiaw and Vranckx, the quartet has still performed below the low expectations. Pobega is the only one that really has picked up some minutes and found continuity.

On the other hand, Origi came as a Premier League and Champions League winner and there were some expectations for the Belgian to be a crucial part of the squad, but he has failed miserably thus far and whilst he came on a free transfer, it still doesn’t feel like good business.

And finally, the marquee signing, De Ketelaere has also been a ghost lately as he has failed to meet the expectations. The Belgian started off promising, but things got worse for him as he just can’t seem to settle in, but we’ve seen similar scenarios with Leao and Tonali.

In conclusion, after a Scudetto-winning season, Pioli had no support as he didn’t get any players that have improved the overall quality of the squad. Whilst Maldini has done a great job to bring Milan back to the top of Italy and out of the Champions League group stages, more is seemingly needed.

Tags AC Milan Cremonese Serie A


  1. Nothing, we’ve learned nothing. We will keep struggling against relegation fodder because Pioli doesn’t know how to motivate his players in “small” games.

  2. Is not about the players. A good coach should know how to use the players. Pioli is limited if he cant make th3 players compact. Even capelo or sachhi said midfield doesnt exist

    1. I have been saying this since this season but nobody seems to understand. with the present crop of midfielders we have, we should be playing a 4-3-3 or any formation that doesn’t need that double pivot.

      1. Same here man I agree and have been saying the same thing. What I like to say is this: we have a team that has poor wingers besides Leao and bad subs for wingers. We also have a mediocre AM and a bad AM. Yet we play a formation that highlights wingers and an AM… I mean this is just basic…. we need to be playing a 3 man mid, then we can try different shapes for the front 3. 3 man mid would benefit even our subs like Pobega, Adli, and maybe even CDK would feel more comfortable as a CM with license to attack as he won’t be on an island with no confidence as he is now in the crucial AM spot.

  3. Five things we’ve learned:
    1)It is idiotic to rest Leao when you are already without Theo and Giroud. Where was the offense suppose to come from? Now we are weak on the left, right, and in the center.
    2) Milan’s signings the last 2 seasons have been a disaster. Bakayoko, Dest, CDK, Adli, Vranckx, Ballo-Toure, Pobega, Thiaw, Origi, Tata. None of these guys have made the team stronger. Most of them can’t even get on the pitch. Meanwhile they let their best midfielder in Kessie leave for free, did not replace him, and still haven’t found a replacement for Calhanoglu. Unacceptable for a team trying to compete in Europe.
    3) Milan do not know how to attack teams that sit deep and defend. They struggle to break these teams down because their movement off the ball is not good and their passing is terrible. That is Pioli’s fault. All they do is whip the ball into the box and hope Giroud or Ibra can get on the end of it. Well, when they aint in there, they ain’t scoring.
    4)Rebic is terrible
    5) Milan is weaker this season than last season, and the season before. Not only is the starting 11 weaker, but the bench is far weaker. Instead of having either Tonali or Bennacer as your 3rd MF, you now have to start them every game because you have no decent backup. Having Romagnoli as a backup center back was better than what they have now. Not to mention this team hasn’t been able to deliver a decent corner or set-piece since Calhanoglu left and still has not been replaced. This is a failure of management.

    1. “Not to mention this team hasn’t been able to deliver a decent corner or set-piece since Calhanoglu left and still has not been replaced. ”

      LOL!!!!!! During “the dead-ball specialist” Cala’s time Milan had over 100 CONSECUTIVE corner kick without scoring a single goal. ONE HUNDRED!!! And 98% of them were given by your “dead-ball specialist”.

    2. Sign and develop not sign and start that is the philosophy. It’s way to early to judge any signings accept for Origi (who has sucked).
      Honestly the big problem is how bad Pobega and Rebic are. Milan thought they would have quality depth with those two and man they were wrong.

  4. Agreed about Rebic. It’s painful to watch him play nowadays. Has passed his peak as well. So yes, it’s the right time to find his replacement. Although it’s probably better to sell him on the previous summer TW.

  5. I have always said this team is winning but not in a decent way, but some people didn’t understand. We have no pattern of play, the midfield setup is wrong. I blame CDKs struggle on the coach (why) ? Pioli is always trying to adapt a player to his system and the players at his disposal are not suited for it anymore, I’d expect he’d adapt the a system that suits the players instead. But some people think we are playing the best game of this clubs career. Sorry to say our midfield setup is totally flawed. We have no patten of play.

    1. Blame Pioli for CdK? Why do we have to cater one specific need of player rather than the whole team? Why do we have to sacrifice the system we’ve been building for +/- 3 years just for a player who just recently added? If he’s that good, he’ll fit in whatever system he put in.

      I see more about mentality rather than just a technical matter. We already won a Scudetto, reached the ultimate goal, that’s why in the league we can see that we didn’t push that hard (like last season when we had that crazy drive) when we’re in goal(s) behind.

      It’s just the thing with younger squad. Their mentality can be highly volatile. Not the case with our experienced players like Giroud or Kjaer who can handle pressure better.

      1. “Why do we have to sacrifice the system we’ve been building for +/- 3 years just for a player who just recently added? ”

        Because when the system isn’t working, there needs to be backup systems. Pioli doesn’t seem to have one but forces unsuitable players to fill in for players with different attributes instead of using their strengths as an advantage.

        For example Pioli is putting Pobega play as a more defensive role in the midfield when everyone can see he’s DEFINITELY not comfortable doing that.

        1. To say the system isn’t working is just pretty premature. We’re only in 2 points shortage in the league from last season. And we reached UCL next round this season.

          We play with the pretty much the same players and with the same system from last year. What I see the big the difference is in our mentality (hence we lost points mostly from smaller teams, apart of Chelsea of course). We don’t have that drive and urge like we saw last season. That’s the sector that Pioli (& Co.) need to revamp on.

          1. In general it works but games vs Torino & Cremonese are perfect examples of when Milan should have had a sufficient plan B. Even with B-team (resting the stars) those matches are the ones that can make us lose the scudetto race. Even with 1/2 primavera players on the roster Milan should win teams such as Cremonese every time.

          2. “Even with B-team (resting the stars) those matches are the ones that can make us lose the scudetto race. ”

            *Even with B-team (resting the stars) those matches should be won as those are the ones that can make us lose the scudetto race.

  6. You seriously expect us to win and have perfect perfomance every game without dropping points.
    Do you think we are man city or psg.

  7. Well tbh if this trend continues we will have to fight for 4th place rather than going for title….napoli are playing extra ordinary but they are yet to experience that blip in form a loss here and there….but for us we have lost too many points we didn’t capitalise on winning against inter and juve we dropped points against down the table sides…..playing every three days are taking its toll and the best time is finish the season on a high against fiorentina and regroup….this team needs to freshen their mind and start fresh…..pioli tactics have been bizarre to be honest but he is the coach must be knowing first hand about the player condition…..about cdk see he just had that first big leap in his career so it takes time for him to adjust…..don’t jump to conclusion after some half a season let the boy play and judge him next year…

  8. “The Croatian was painful to watch on the night as he couldn’t beat his man or complete a successful pass”

    Yet he gave an inch-perfect pass to set Origi on a 1-on-1 with the GK and also gave a splendid pass to Ballo-Toure to go all the way through from side.

    1. Just stop dude. You notice you are the only one on here still trying to make excuses for Rebic. Yes, he had one good pass, and about 50 horrible touches and passes. He has the worst touch and control of any professional football player. Once every 10 games he will score a nice goal. Who cares.

      1. “Just stop dude. ”
        Aren’t these comment-sections meant for discussions? So I should stop just because you don’t share my view. OK, sure, yep… 😀 😀 😀

        “He has the worst touch and control of any professional football player.”

        LOL. Clearly you haven’t watched football much. 🙂

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