GdS: Adli on and a 4-2-3-1 – Pioli’s midfield ‘correction’ nearly brings ultimate reward

By Oliver Fisher -

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.

Tags AC Milan Dortmund Milan Yacine Adli


  1. But folks here said we don’t have players for 4231 and 433 gives us more attacking freedom and… and… and that Reijnders will be wasted playing further up.

    Just ditch useless 433. They’re leaving too much space between lines and there’s no proper pressure.

    1. Finally, people are realizing the importance of a 4-2-3-1 setup. Leão is an inverted winger and this particular setup gives him freedom to sprint on the left flank while Theo overlaps and joins the attack.

      1. I also think we don’t have complete squad to play any of these formations but at least our “old guard” feel more confident in 4231 and new guys are also quite versatile to occupy positions for 4231. I’ve said before that Reijnders up front between wings could turn out great because not only has he flair, speed, visions and passing, he also contributes in interceptions and thus could help to support our midfield pivots. Bennacer did same at the end of last year when he was put up front and it worked great.

    2. Nobody said we don’t have the players. We have more than we need for 4-2-3-1. 4-3-3 is about defensive solidity. Did you not watch last season where we kept shipping goals? Our wingers do minimal defensive work, this means that in a 4-2-3-1 were perpetually a man down in midfield. If we can find attacking balance in a 4-3-3 so be it. If we can find defensive balance in a 4-2-3-1 so be it. As long as we win games we should win. Pioli needs to figure out what works best. That’s the bottom line.

    3. But we didn’t play 4231 though. I don’t know where GdS got this from. They were interchanging the DM between Musah and Adli, Reinjders played further up as mezzala where he’s more comfortable. That was all. Even Adli at times looked at Musah as to why he was occupying his DM spot if you check it again

      1. Yeah I never saw reinjders playing as a ten. Musah didn’t have a bad game but he definitely looked like a 20 year old out there as he seemed to be out of position often. It was pretty clearly a 4-3-3. When Pobega Is on the pitch it’s definitely 10 v 12 though (4-2-3)

  2. He’s just a stupid, dumb and unintelligent coach. I chose a midfield trio for like 2 to 3 matches now that works, just because u don’t like or trust a certain player u ignore is quality and opt for a mediocre player with no creativity. Am just tired of this coach. He enjoys killing talents. Like how gasperini is using CDK as an 8 but our coach makes CDK looks like a Batman. May GOD saves us from him.

    1. Babatunde my fellow milanister calm down, okay, to be honest Pioli is a stupid coach, I can believe Players like Giroud, Calabria and Krunic are backbone in our line up

  3. Adli profited a lot from the midfield starters tiring out BVB, when BVB brought fresh players Adli‘s impact dropped.
    Adli doesn‘t have the lungs of our other mids, against BVB it was correct to bring him on later.

  4. u guys cant compare adli vs pobega.
    they are 2 players with 2 different characteristics
    these two boys should play together as their play complement each other
    Pobega should train to be faster thou, his lack of speed is worrying

    1. Exactly. But Adli fanboys will know better 😅🤦🏻‍♂️
      Of course if that decision would be made earlier the game would end 1-3 to Dortmund (this is how useless Adli defense is).
      Adli is very good against low block inferior opponents — it would be a disaster yesterday as a starting line up.
      And of course there is no problem with Pioli actually. The problem is we could not score from 10 meters. And that is not Pobega or Adli problem.

      1. Well I wouldn’t oppose ur point cos I could see a game against lazio when adli was trying to get back to position while turning his back on play while lazio is attacking but still u can’t undermine his contribution and distribution. Pirlo doesn’t defend well but plays good in front of defence

    2. Exactly. But Adli fanboys will know better 😅🤦🏻‍♂️
      Of course if that decision would be made earlier the game would end 1-3 to Dortmund (this is how useless Adli defense is).
      Adli is very good against low block inferior opponents — it would be a disaster yesterday as a starting line up.
      And of course there is no problem with Pioli actually. The problem is we could not score from 10 meters. And that is not Pobega or Adli problem

      1. So, according to you, there is no problem with Pioli and Pobega is amazing. And you have a weird hypothetical about if Adli played more, Dortmund would have scored 3 goals. This fantasy world you live in is very intriguing, tell us more

        1. he is right.with adli starting that game we would have lost it in d first half and eventually rely on bringing in pobega in the second half.

    3. Incorrect.

      Watch the game again. When Adli came in, the 3 rotated into the 4-2-3-1. There was no set 2 for the pivot but it was mostly Musah and Adli and Reijnders playing in the attack.

      A little too late in my opinion but Pioli did adapt to the situation.

      1. i will not because i cant and it did not rotate into 4231.
        You think you saw a 4231 but in reality it was a 433 where one of the mids would push up from time to time….

      2. Regardless of the personnel I mentioned in another article that they would probably transition into 4-2-3-1 during the match. I don’t see why we have to be only one or only the other. The two formations provide different characteristics and we have the players for both. We should be able to use both. 4-2-3-1 when we’re looking for goals and 4-3-3 when we’re looking to close down. We can even transition between the two during a game without making personnel changes as the situation dictates. THIS is the sign of a good coach.

  5. Pretty sure he started Pobega for Adli on purpose to absorb pressure for an hour. THen brought Adli in and pushed reijnders further up to start attacking more in the second half.

    Worked well too, minus the goal of course.

    1. Exactly. BTW we created a lot of chances with Pobega heavily involved. Do I need to bring youtube here 😉 ? Giroud, Pulicic and Teo did not convert. Sometimes pure unlucky.

  6. Please Stefano Pioli please scratch out 4-3-3 away and start playing the 4-2-3-1 because 4-3-3 is not our formation instead it’s disappointing to us our two matches were not able to win why our wingers and striker are useful in 4-2-3-1 not 4-3-3

  7. I think given that 3 starters were missing from the midfield lineup a draw away at bvb isn’t a terrible result…
    Everyone on here is so emotionally unstable, I remember several years ago this used to be a space where is English speaking fans could go to talk about the club. Now it’s just a toxic dump of individuals who can’t help but go full mental breakdown every time things don’t go exactly the way they want.

  8. Even though, in Hindsight I think it should have been the other way. With the game being stretched in the later stages and us having runners in front. Maybe Pobega box to box attributes would have been needed there. He does make up the numbers when we are attacking attack. But just my thought.

    1. I personally don’t think Pobega’s attributes are sufficient for Milan, but I was just trying to make sense of his inclusion.

  9. Pobega a should not be starting in UCL period. Adli should have started flanked by Musah and Reinjders. That’s it. Very simple. Pobega with a 43% (?) pass accuracy and ppl on here are claiming we created a lot of chances because of him??? 😂😂😂.

  10. on second watch of the game. We should have scored at least two goals, there are so many missed chances that it seemed impossible.

    even the fact that they only had 4 available midfielders…they held up. Why would you change after that performance. Not one player was at fault. Pogeba missed a point blank shot, so did giroud, theo’s header, chuk, reijneers, any of them being clinical and the game is won.

    Also are we going to ignore the adli turnover in the 88th minute. if that had given away the game, i think the conversation would be different. He is technically so gifted but there is a reason he was brought on when the game could be better controlled. But strength is definitely something that can be worked on.

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