GdS: Flexibility, experience and tactical approach – comparing Pioli and De Rossi

By Oliver Fisher -

One of the aspects of the upcoming Europa League tie between AC Milan and Roma is the tactical battle that awaits between Stefano Pioli and Daniele De Rossi.

As La Gazzetta dello Sport writes, since De Rossi became the new Roma manager the Rossoneri and Giallorossi have moved forward arm in arm in the league with a record of eight wins, two draws and one defeat.

With an average of 2.36 points per game, the two teams have been the best in Serie A after leaders Inter for a couple of months (together with Bologna, who have had an identical path). That’s why the European meeting is so fascinating.

Experience and enthusiasm

In Europe, tactics will come into play, but not only that. Milan-Roma will also be a duel between two coaches with different backgrounds, who will compete for a place in the semi-final with two different ideas of how to play.

The first reflection is on the history of the two coaches, which is different for obvious reasons. Pioli was born in 1965, De Rossi was born in 1983m meaning there is generation between the two but they both know their respective environments perfectly.

After years of apprenticeship and experiences at other clubs, Pioli arrived at Milan in 2019 and in just a few seasons he brought the Rossoneri back to the Champions League, a Scudetto win and then among the top four in Europe.

De Rossi returned to Roma in mid-January after an initial life as a footballer and captain, called by the Friedkins following Joe Mourinho’s dismissal. In a few weeks he has regained his role as a leader and has restored enthusiasm to the Giallorossi despite a still short time on the bench.

However, DDR’s past includes a couple of years as collaborator of Roberto Mancini in the national team and 17 matches as coach of SPAL, between 2022 and 2023.

Leagues apart?

Milan are currently second in the Serie A table and in the next few rounds will have to defend their position from Juve’s attacks, while Roma are currently in fifth place but the results of the last few games mean they are chasing Bologna, now fourth.

The two teams, who progressed with merit, are similar today in their attacking play, but also in the face that they have a defensive that occasionally gives something to their opponents in terms of chances in transition.

Milan boast the second-best attack in Serie A (60 goals, behind only Inter), Roma third (56 goals scored). In defence, the situation turns: the Giallorossi have conceded 35 goals so far, the Rossoneri 34.

Restricting the comparison to the last 11 rounds in Serie A (therefore starting from the arrival of De Rossi), 24 goals have been scored by the Giallorossi and 22 by the Rossoneri , while 11 were let in by La Lupa and 13 by the Diavolo.

Fundamental flexibility

From what has been shown so far in their respective tenures, both are attack-minded and above all flexible coaches who have no problems when changes need to be made on the fly.

Pioli at Milan has already done this several times in recent years, but De Rossi in Rome has also shown himself to be open to more reading the game as it happens.

Taking into consideration the last 11 games in the league again, both teams are good with ball possession, but in different ways.

Milan touch the ball more often in the opponent’s half of the field and tend to attack the game, Roma play in midfield and are slower in build-up. One of the reflections of this attitude is the average number of shots per game: 15 for the Rossoneri, 10.7 for the Giallorossi.

For both coaches, the point of reference today is an attacking trident that best mixes imagination and concreteness. Leao, Giroud and Pulisic are the men to whom Pioli handed over the keys to the department, and with the added bonus of a resurgent Chukwueze, Pioli has also had is an extra weapon on the right in recent weeks.

Dybala, Lukaku and El Shaarawy make up the quality trio that has set up Roma’s recovery. Eyes also on the attacking midfield too, in which Loftus-Cheek – already at 10 goals for the season – is proving to be a fundamental key, while on the other side Pellegrini stands out.


Tags AC Milan Daniele de Rossi Stefano Pioli
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