If Stefano Pioli could rewind the clock to around 19:00 CEST last night, he might just think twice about the line-up that he decided to field.
Pioli made three changes to the starting line-up from the team that beat Lazio 2-0 on Saturday, with Malick Thiaw coming in for Simon Kjaer while Yunus Musah and Tommaso Pobega took Yacine Adli and Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s places. That meant Tijjani Reijnders played a deeper-lying role in the midfield three.
However, La Gazzetta dello Sport (seen below) recall how Pioli made a ‘correction’ in midfield less than 15 minutes into the second half. Tommaso Pobega – a midfielder of pure strength and less so technique – came off and Adli went on.
With that came a change in system and a return to the 4-2-3-1 seen last season, with Reijnders moving about 30-40 metres further forward to play as an attacking midfielder.
The change worked, because Milan raised their level of creativity. Territorial dominance emerged and pretty much all the major chances in the last half-hour came from Milan, such as Reijnders’ shot which came out of nowhere and was thanks to his new position and the license to roam it brings.
Adli will have felt disappointed to have lost his starting spot from the last two league games but he looked confident and inventive, sending Chukwueze away down the right side for a move that ending with a shot not far wide.
Pioli’s decision to alter the midfield in favour of a trio that brought creativity, confidence on the ball but also work rate and yards covered nearly paid full dividends.