Dinamo Zagreb 0-4 AC Milan: Five things we learned – Gabbia greatness; shooting boots missing

By Ivan Stoev -

After back-to-back losses against Chelsea, AC Milan had to forget about the negative results and win their two remaining games in order to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League, with the first game being against Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia.

Milan were slow to get going as Dinamo had a good spell of early pressure, but in the 39th minute Gabbia scored his first ever goal for the Rossoneri with a header from a Sandro Tonali free-kick to make it 1-0.

In the second half, Milan completely changed gear and took the initiative which led to Rafael Leao scoring a goal in the 49th minute to double the lead. From then onwards the Rossoneri were the ones dominating and Olivier Giroud’s penalty made it 3-0 before the hour.

The 69th minute saw Ljubicic put the ball into his own net after a cross by Leao to make it a final scoreline of 4-0 – though it could have been more – and now they must simply avoid defeat against Salzburg to go through. Here are five things we learned…

1. Continuing to impress

Matteo Gabbia started the game in place of the suspended Fikayo Tomori and the Italian seems to have found great continuity as he has been given plenty of game time as of late with all the injuries within the squad.

Gabbia has been impressive throughout the last month and against Dinamo Zagreb he just continued that trend having completely neutralised Petkovic at the back, also making a couple of crucial blocks to help his team keep a clean sheet.

The 23-year-old was also the man that put Milan ahead which also happened to be his first goal for the club and in general was not afraid of carrying the ball forward and trying to involve himself in the plays.

It was an outstanding performance for Gabbia who also won the title of man of the match in our post-game ratings.

2. Duo dominate yet again

Tonali and Bennacer did not disappoint at the Stadion Maksimir either as both played a big part in the 4-0 win. The Algerian was the engine of the team as usual as he took on the playmaking responsibilities but he also had some great defending moments showcasing his incredible work rate.

His partner, on the other hand, managed to get an assist and won the penalty, but on top of that his set-pieces were very good throughout the game as he managed to put the ball into very dangerous areas, one of which resulted in the opening goal.

In the second half, the Italian also made some very nice forward runs through the middle and down the right flank for which Dinamo had no answer.

3. Another disappointing evening

Charles De Ketelaere started the game instead of Brahim Diaz, who was an injury doubt until the day of the game and in the end didn’t even come off the bench as Pioli seemingly wanted to rest him and allow him to fully recover from the injury he picked up against Monza.

However, De Ketelaere didn’t really capitalise on the chance he got as he continues to struggle for end product. Usually he does have a few nice moments and it is obvious that he just needs to adapt, but against Dinamo Zagreb he offered nothing and even missed a chance when put in behind when the square ball was on.

He might have to settle for a spot on the bench if Brahim continues in the same fashion. Fortunately for De Ketelaere, the schedule is tight and he will have opportunities coming his way, and of course a goal could unlock everything.

4. Forward duo wasteful

Whilst not necessarily bad, Giroud and Rebic were a bit disappointing on the night even though the Croat provided the pass that led to the penalty and the Frenchman converted it.

The reality, however, is that Giroud missed quite a few chances to score and was not as efficient as he usually is so he will have to take advantage of the relatively easy schedule in Serie A and respond better. This has been an ongoing problem for him, and the penalty doesn’t change much.

As for Rebic, he played on the right hand side this time around and he was involved in the majority of Milan’s attacks. The problem, however, came from the fact that his decision making in the final third and final execution ultimately disappointed.

Several of his crosses were bad and on several occasions he could have made a shot earlier instead of waiting for players to surround him, not to mention missing a one-on-one late in the second half whilst the chances were just raining for Milan. He has proved to be dangerous, but the efficiency is something that must be improved.

5. Job well done

Whilst on paper this game was a manageable one, there was for sure some pressure after the two losses against Chelsea. Pioli, however, managed to field the right starting XI and after a shaky first half Milan dominated Dinamo Zagreb and are now really close to getting out of the group.

The defence also did well in the first half whilst the attack was struggling and at the same time Dinamo Zagreb were pushing to make something happen so it was great to see the players withstand and react in fashion.

It feels like a big psychological hurdle has been overcome especially considering neither Chelsea (1-0 loss) nor Salzburg (1-1 draw) were able to win in Croatia, in fact Milan are the first team to beat them on their own pitch in 2022.

Despite a few frustrating moments in the game, the 4-0 score suggests the Rossoneri did something right and it’s exactly what they needed going into their final Champions League group stage game.

Tags AC Milan Champions League Dinamo Zagreb Serie A


  1. It’s a 4-0 game even Liverpool misses a lot of chances but goals matter I think we should field same lineup vs Salzburg because Tomori is making mistakes and Kjaer and Gabbia are pretty solid on the other hand

    1. Salzburg’s forwards have totally different characteristics from Dinamo’s.
      Dinamo attackers were bigger and slower which is right in Kjaer and Gabbia wheelhouse but Okafor, Sesko and Adamu are smaller, mobile and fast.
      Let’s not get carried away over 1 game vs a weaker opponent. Gabbia and Kjaer should play together only if there is no other option, as was vs Dinamo.

    2. Kjear and Gabbia work effectively in a low block setup. Tomori is normally deployed in a high block so there’s more space behind him and the keeper. He’s forced to race his targets, which is not always effective. I think we need a low block going forward in UCL. It’s what Carlitto successfully deployed in his tenure because Nesta, Stam, Maldini or even Silva were not very fast defenders

      1. I agree that in the UCL we deploy a low block as we have the right CB’s for that system and players like Theo , Leao, Diaz, Charles who carry the ball up the pitch quickly making up for the space we will cede. Above all it has to be noted how balanced the team was with Kalulu as Right back , with Theo constantly attacking kalulu should always start as first choice Right back, even when Calabria comes back.

      2. That was almost 20 years ago, The game has changed since then, and Nesta, Stam, Maldini and Silva maybe werent very fast defenders but they weren’t slow as Kjaer and somewhat Gabbia are.
        Tomori should go back to his starting spot and one of Kjaer or Gabbia goes back to the bench

        1. OK, maybe it’s 20yrs ago, but it worked. I have also seen teams like Chelsea win a UCL trophy in more recent years with a low block.

  2. Giroud was magnificent for Zagreb ..Just look at his shots ratio on target ,,the only reason he did not score more than the penalty was the outstanding performance of the Zagreb goalkeeper,,one save in particular..Giroud is such a clever striker and his movement in and around the box phenomenal..
    So no one can tell me that he did not play well .
    Plenty more goals to come from Olivia ,make no mistake about that .Yes I am a huge fan of his .
    Just remind you that when We AC Milan signed him last year I said that we would win the scuddeto,which we did ..indeed we can win it again this season ..oliviers contributions will be vital ..never write this man off ..He May be 36 years old ,but technically he is the best centre forward around in the 18 yard area .
    Yes he has plenty more to offer…Another player I must mention is rafeol Leao ,he is so exciting to watch ,and he works so well alongside Oliver …TONALI what a performance from him ,senstational ..We have a great team ,a great manager in poli ,he knows how to bring the best out of his players …I believe we will be in the last 16 of the champions leauge ,,and of course we could progress further ..This AC Milan team so exciting..Keep believing all fans ..

Comments are closed

Serie A Standings

Live football scores . Current table, fixtures & results.