Five of the key pillars of AC Milan’s Scudetto success have crumbled in recent weeks contributing to the sharp dip in form, a report claims.
La Gazzetta dello Sport begin by highlighting Pierre Kalulu as the first of five, remarking the he ‘has lost all security’. Up to a certain point it was Fikayo Tomori who looked to be having a tough season, and then in the last few games Kalulu has gone too.
At the Olimpico last night he committed two more individual errors: the first for Milinkovic-Savic’s first goal when he took the bait from Felipe Anderson who dragged him into midfield, and then when he cut down Pedro in the box to give away a penalty.
It should be remembered that Kalulu is only in his third year as a professional, having been signed from Lyon without a senior appearance made, but the fact remains that he has had a worrying drop in form.
Fikayo Tomori is described as ‘the great mystery’ as he has gone from being sharp, confident and aggressive to nervous, poorly applied tactically, and making glaring individual mistakes.
More than others he perhaps suffers from Maignan’s lack of guidance, but in reality he has been stammering periodically since the beginning of the season. Yesterday he came off due to muscle problems after less than half an hour, after he too was in the dock for Milinkovic-Savic’s goal.
Unlike Tomori, the explanation for the drop in performance level for Theo Hernandez is quite evident as he is struggling after playing 500 minutes at the World Cup. The Frenchman did well in Doha with one goal and two assists, but since coming back he has not hit the same levels.
He appears to be emptied of energy and now he also has to solve a muscle problem which seems to be just fatigue – something that could be an indicator of his condition prior – and that caused him to miss Lazio.
Rafael Leao is described as having a ‘head that is elsewhere’ after the emptiness of the last few games. A player who asks for €7m net per season (at least) cannot afford to disappear when the team disappears. It must be him, or at least him among others, trying to take the team by the hand.
Yesterday, in addition to being non-existent in the attacking phase (though he did not get much service), he helped little in the non-possession phase, contributing to making Milan wobble. Could it be that the uncertainty regarding his future is beginning to weigh?
Finally, the report describes Olivier Giroud as another ‘victim’ of the tournament in Qatar, given he played just over 420 minutes at the World Cup. The 36-year-old arrived at the club to be at most part of a rotation, but Pioli has not been able to give him much rest and this has going on since last season.
With Ibrahimovic out for months, Origi battling injuries, Rebic more in the treatment room than on the pitch and Lazetic not ready, Giroud had to put Milan on his shoulders even when he could and should have caught his breath. Now, he is paying for that.