Genoa 0-1 AC Milan: Five things we learned – crucial win with positives

By Ivan Stoev -

Looking to build on their positive run in the league, AC Milan headed to Genoa with a lot of confidence although knowing that it would be a tough game. It ended up being just that, but they still claimed all three points. 

Pioli decided to rotate up front and started a front three consisting of Samuel Chukwueze, Luka Jovic and Noah Okafor, with the Serbian international finally getting his chance from the start.

Unfortunately, the Rossoneri didn’t have much in attack during the first half and Pioli eventually had to bring on Christian Pulisic and Rafael Leao to try and turn the game around. The American ended up saving the day, scoring in the 87th minute.

In the dying minutes of the game, there was a lot of drama as Mike Maignan was sent off and Olivier Giroud had to put on the gloves for the final few minutes. In that time, Genoa hit the woodwork and forced the Frenchman into making a huge save to seal the three points. To top things off, Genoa’s goalkeeper Josep Martinez was also sent off in the 103rd minute.

Overall, it was not an easy game for Milan, who looked a bit fatigued which is understandable given the tight schedule, but what’s important is the three points. Here are five things we learned…

1. Attacking trio disappoints

We have mentioned on several occasions since the start of the season that Pioli has a lot of quality at his disposal, but against Genoa we didn’t see that with Okafor, Jovic, and Chukwueze struggling up front.

Jovic could perhaps be excused given that he probably isn’t fully fit yet, and while he had a bad game he didn’t get good service either.

Okafor, who has played some really good games, really struggled against Genoa and failed to have an impact on the game. On the right, Chukwueze continued to be underwhelming as we are yet to see him impress.

The Nigerian is the only big summer signing that is yet to show his quality and he has had plenty of chances to do so, but has been wasteful in all of them excluding a few nice dribbles here and there.

2. Another one

The frustration in attack transferred from the Champions League to Serie A, but fortunately for Pioli, his defence continued to be impeccable, leaving little for Genoa to play with and making the late goal enough for Milan to win all three points.

Malick Thiaw and Fikayo Tomori led the way as they both had a strong game, whilst Maignan made a very impressive save before being sent off. That makes it the third clean sheet in a row and 5 out of the last 6 games with just one goal conceded in that period.

The backline has reacted well after the loss against Inter especially at the back. With the team battling it out on multiple fronts, defensive solidity will be key as it was in the Scudetto-winning season two years ago.

3. Sloppy by the French duo

Maignan did not necessarily have a poor game, but the red card was reckless and means he will miss the big game against Juventus. Theo Hernandez, meanwhile, was quite poor overall and also took an unnecessary yellow card which means he also will miss the game.

The left-back also played poorly going forward and wasn’t at his usual best, having failed to pick up the pace this season so far. He will need to react appropriately and what better time than the Champions League game against PSG?

4. Mixed performances in the middle

The midfield wasn’t quite as dominant this time around with Yacine Adli struggling a bit, and later on was replaced after a game he’d want to forget quickly.

Tijjani Reijnders and Yunus Musah were better but the American was sloppy at times too. He did work hard towards the end and got an assist so he gets a pass.

The Dutchman was probably the most active one out of the three as he was constantly on the ball, showcasing his stamina as he just kept running till the end. Despite that, he too did not have a massive impact, but the willingness is there, and there is plenty of room for improvement, which we have highlighted in previous weeks.

5. Pulisic and Giroud save the day

Pulisic picked Chukwueze at half-time and played a much better game than his Nigerian teammate. On the goal, he controlled the ball really well before striking it with his weak foot, bagging his second consecutive goal in the league.

The winger now has four goals and an assist in eight league games and has sealed his starting spot with his great start to the season, whilst Chukwueze hasn’t made a statement for the spot either as he’s still struggling to get going.

Of course, it’s impossible to take five things from the game without discussing the heroics of Olivier Giroud. To step up and put on the gloves at that moment takes some balls, and he did it so well too with that save at the end. He and Pulisic saved the day for the Rossoneri, that’s for sure.

Tags AC Milan Genoa Serie A


  1. I stand by my claim that the midfield is a downgrade from last season. They will be tested again vs Juve, PSG, and Napoli and I hope they prove me wrong. Having said that, the forward department is better and deeper. Yes they struggled but I think they will improve with time, much like the defense did. The ability to rest Leao and Pulisic is crucial going forward. It’s important to point out as well that Genoa have performed extremely well against the bigger teams and this shouldn’t be considered an easy match. The biggest positive was seeing the growth in experience and attitude in grinding out a result like this. It’s these games that win leagues and it was great to see

    1. How is the midfield downgrade? We lost Tonali, but gained Rainders who is our midfield engine and absolute must starter, and RLC who was the second best new signing (after Pulisic) before his injury and also a must starter. Not only that but we now have also Musah as a backup, instead of Pobega and Bakayoko… People seem to forget how many games we completely lost the center last season with Tonali/Bennacer combo and everyone was crying for 4-3-3.

      1. Musah is the really good signing in midfield and the others are so-so. Engines that don’t do much useful things. I really don’t understand what do you see but ok. If it looks good, it doesn’t mean it is effective and useful.

          1. He is 20 years old, by the time he is at age of RLC he will be 3 times better. Same goes for comparison to Reijnders. He is actually responsible when defending and has “bigger lungs” than both of these. And as we have seen he can go past his man, cross, and go in and shoot. Both of these guys have only half of it. Let’s repeat, 20 years old. Other 2 – 25 and 27. At 20, RLC was a ball bay, collecting balls for the first team and Reijnders was in the youth team, trying to break into the first team. How tf are these 2 better, in what exactly? You wrote nothing, just your opinion without a word of explanation.

    2. I don’t think we got a downgrade necessarily and the signings are individually fine (few have won anything unlike the players they replaced but you’ve got to start somewhere).

      The issue for me was the number of signings and the myth of depth that saw Pioli rotate his entire front three with predictable results. The players who were apparently in desperate need of ‘rest’ then ended up playing 60 mins anyway!

      The issue is particularly bad in midfield and attack where we’ve got too many players which will mean at least some will not reach their potential.

      Musah OR Loftus Cheek would be better than both. It’s the same with Okafor OR Jovic.

      The problem is that you’ve got squad players who don’t even get to come into a settled side but get their one 45 min chance alongside other newbies. They then get hauled off at half time even though all that had happened was it was 0:0 and they’d missed some chances.

      But these endless permutations that make up our massive squad leads to this indecision. Like a child with too many toys.

      1. well l believe in positivity…he rotates and permutes and by so doing he gives dem more game time and den dey get accustomed to the league and dey get match fitness den dey start hitting their strides…as far as i can tell, the new signings need more game time

      2. Perhaps the way pioli rotates is the problem (or one of the problems). When I saw the lineup against Genoa, I was (righfully) skeptical. You don’t change your entire front 3 in one game and put players that have never played together before. I would have been more reasonable to have Okafor as a CF, Leao as a LW and Chuku as a RW.
        Even last year, pioli sometimes doesn’t rotate at all, but when he does, he changes too much (against Bologna, he started 10 new players who have never played together before and the game ended in a draw).
        That’s my opinion anyways.

    3. Not a downgrade. Pioli is the problem. We still pass back too often. Players don’t overlap runs, no give and go. Its always pass to the defenders and go wide. It wasn’t until Adli started did we see some from of vertical passing in the midfield.

      We leave a massive gaps in the middle of the pitch.

      1. How is the Scudetto winning coach the problem?

        Are you not happy being top of the table?

        Would you prefer we’d pass forwards more, and be second???

        1. The squad is very talented and that exceeds Pioli’s tactical deficiencies. Yes, it’s great being top of the table at the moment, but are you happy scraping by the likes of Genoa? We should be smacking them 3-0. Also, we haven’t scored or won in CL yet. When you watch the game, don’t you notice the team is not moving and flowing on offense. Sometimes they just stand there. And it’s Leao to the rescue with a moment of brilliance.

          Today, I watched Napoli v Fiorentina. Vincenzo Italiano has that team playing great football with far less talent and resources (shout out to Jack B).

          We have the talent and finally depth, but we’re missing that tactical side. There’s a reason Pioli was at 12 or 13 different clubs for no more than 2 years before Milan. Look at it subjectively and stop being a sheep.

          1. Hey m*ron. Genoa slaughtered Roma 4-1, beat Lazio 1-0, and draw with last season champion Napoli 2-2. They can’t be underestimate!

            Not to mention Genoa have 1 week preparation and fresh legs over Milan who just played away at Dortmund and only had 1 training session.

            Seriously GTFO here with your stup*dity and ignorant BS 👎

          2. Will try to watch that, they are second to only Verona in their ability to break up teams build up play. Napoli is pressing even more aggressively than them yet they arent even in the top 10 in creating turnovers and counters.

          3. So according to some ‘fans’ when we won the Scudetto that was all luck/Ibrahimovic being a one man team, and now we’re top again it’s due to the fabulous new players…

            Why are you not capable of giving credit to the manager of the club you allegedly support who has delivered a Scudetto and consistently met or exceeded expectations (and last season we met expectations in the league and surpassed them in Europe)?

            And if you don’t like the manager and a chunk of players, why do you bother supporting the team that is the manager and that chunk of players?

          4. And yet again, 0 points to refute my statements. Forza Milan just runs his mouth like a child and Maldini says to support another team. Can you guys have an actual discussion or is everything emtotion based? At least DanC put together some points down below which is great for discussion. But, you other two are clearly not very smart and sheep. Lay off the soy, too much estrogen is making you emotional.

    4. This guy thinks Tonali is some sort of generational player who never made any mistakes

      you sure you arent thinking of Bellingham?

    5. I don’t think the individual players are a downgrade in the midfield (unless you wan’t to argue than Bakayoko is better than Musah). Adli was technically already here last season, we lost Tonali but we got Loftus Cheek and Reijnders who objectively weren’t bad.
      The problem is that we have (yet ?) to find a formula to properly use all of the players at our disposition, and from a tactical point of view, still commiting the same mistakes as last season.

  2. Ivan,

    I love “the dutchman” but when musah covers more ground, more progressive carry yards, more progressive passing yards, more tackles and interceptions and drops in a perfectly placed ball where only pulisic can get to it for the win….Giving him a pass makes it sound like a bad game. Fortunately I check other sites where on average he gets the 3rd highest rating behind our CBs or Pulisic (and Giroud gets a 10). Figured I’d share here his continued improvement.

    Spot on with the other 4 though.


    1. dont get me wrong. its not a competition, those two are an awesome box to box coverage team. I just think people already know how good Reijnders is so its worth pointing out good performances.

    2. Why do people care about ratings so much?

      They’re entirely dependent on the circumstances.

      If Musah tried that cross 10 times and it wouldn’t work out like that. Football is a numbers game interspersed with moments of magic.

      One shot, one pass, one mistake can determine a rating. It’s better to focus on the overall picture which we can’t know until the end of the season or even seasons.

      1. also agree on bringing in too many new players especially with a midfield that isnt working with too much back up. Backups need to be ready to come in and play with the first team on an injury or a card. Only place i disagree is maybe the midfield in the 433 given the distance coverage required, but TR is a machine and musah is proving to be one as well. When everyone is healthy I can see them working to sell two in the window to help fund a ST.

  3. agree on ratings in general but after i watch a game a couple times, ill purpose to see if there is something i missed. Personally I feel RLC consistently disappears for much of a game but he can grab moments and grab an assist or goal…those decide the game so i understand why they are valued in ratings, but at the same time, what does a rating mean. Those last 15 min did feel important though. haven’t seen the team connect like that. Likely thanks to Giroud and pulisic mostly.

  4. Its no secret that pioli loves pep and positional play and sees him being able to rotate (although not too many players) and sees that as an important aspect of consistency when other teams are fatigued or not fatigued because they dont have to play the extra games.

  5. Did anybody watch the Postgame Interviews? with Pioli and Pulisic?

    Pioli Said “We were going to put Pulisic in goal, But he said to pick Giroud for his Height on the free kick”

    So that means Pulisic is the best during training at being GK. And Pioli only picked Giroud to be the GK, Because Pulisic told him too.

    Why has noone mentioned this lol

  6. 433 doesn’t work for MILAN. We struggled to beat Genoa. We need a twin strike partner. For single striker to be effective needs someone like ibra, vanbasten, Shevchenko. These 1 man can kill off the game single handedly. Giroud is 2 steps behind…

    1. How can you say that the system doesn’t work if the 3rd / 4th best team by talent leads the league?

      Not to mention Sheva never played lone striker. He had Rebrov, Weah, Bierhoff and Inzaghi.

      Inzaghi played lone striker in Ancelotti’s Xmas tree.

      1. How are we the 3rd / 4th best team by talent if we’re leading the league?

        Surely if we’re top (for now) we’re the best (for now)?

        Does the actual league position not make you question your completely arbitrary rating of players?

        I mean it seems to be widely accepted that the Milan Scudetto winning side did not have, erm, a manager or players capable of winning, erm, winning the Scudetto.

        It was either down to luck or Ibrahimovic or other teams not performing, or anything that might challenge people’s totally random and arbitrary player ratings.

    2. Genoa is a solid team who slaughtered Roma 4-1, beat Lazio 1-0, and draw 2-2 against Napoli. They also had better preparation and fresh legs over Milan who just played away match at Dortmund.

      So stop being ignorant.

    3. It has less to do with the 4-3-3 and more to do with how we deal with teams that play for counterattacks. Even back in the 4-2-3-1 we did struggle in transition, and inter which is a team that don’t press high and counterattack had a LOT of success against us.
      Also, currently our midfield is more built for a 4-3-3 rather than a 4-2-3-1

  7. Did anybody watch the Postgame Interviews? with Pioli and Pulisic?

    Pioli Said “We were going to put Pulisic in goal, But he said to pick Giroud for his Height on the free kick”

    So that means Pulisic is the best during training at being GK. And Pioli only picked Giroud to be the GK, Because Pulisic told him too.

    Why has noone mentioned this lol

  8. Everyone’s happy for Giroud, but remember to read your Bible every day and pray to be synchronized to the will of our Heavenly Father. No one is perfect in life.

  9. This midfield hasn’t recovered from Maldini’s reckless decision to let Kessie leave without a fight. Tonali’s sale – which was a good business decision – should not have hurt us so much. He’s just one midfielder. But without Kessie locking down the CDM position every_single_game Tonali’s loss is constantly felt.

    Someone needs to step up.

  10. Like in every phase of positional play you find a numerical, positional, or qualitative advantage. When the ball is on the wing, the goal is to win a 1v1 (qualitative) and take up a defender leaving a numerical advantage (attack the box which might have 3 men remaining and 4 attackers) the ST, far side winger and both 8s. Against Genoa, Chuk created a good opportunity that Okafor fumbled in front of goal and his one sided play style leads him away from any kind of cutback which are typically very high % opportunities.

    RLC usually plays as that second striker although i think he would be a good as a first striker too, while Reijnders likes to find a spot around the top of the box or make a delayed run. Because that is also where musah is also most effective, he has been providing an overlap to pull away a defender and maintain the numerical advantage.

    That swap with christian created a massive numerical advantage vs Genoa where their zonal defense failed leaving 4 defenders guarding no one. Both Reijnders and Calabria motion for musah to put it in the box and christian could either take it himself or lay it off for an open Reijnders. An on-the-fly adjustment that I could watch over and over.

    On the other side, Leao or Theo can typical get wherever they want, so you see Leao get to the line a cut back to Okafor for a tap in or Reijndiers on a delayed run. Or beat his man right and fire a shot or cross which the far side wing (pulisic) can find himself on the end of.

    With Giroud struggling, he has acted more as a decoy for the second runner. Which is why Reijnders leads the team in shots taken. Unfortunately he is yet to score.

    I believe the team is trying to upgrade the ST position as soon as possible. Which I would expect to lead to more goals. And I expect Reijnders to gain confidence once he hits one as he has been a good shooter in the past.

    To my knowledge none of Napoli or Florentina or Lazio has changed formation in response to not being able to beat Genoa. They all play a 433.

    Whoever put this schedule together has a sick sense of humor as the next 11 games include Juve, Napoli, PSG twice, Lecce, Florentina, Dortmund, Newcastle, Atalanata all before mid december…

  11. It wasn’t a great match, but we started with an all-new forward line and midfield set up. Genoa are probably the second best team we played in Serie A this season. Gudmunnson makes them tick and Tomori did a great job shadowing him all evening.
    My problem is that Pioli decided to change it at half time with the Okafor/Chuku subs. Jovic should definitely have come off and Okafor moved into the centre. He offers much more including link up play on the left with Leao. I thought Musah played very well; yes, slopy on occasions but he was on the ball a lot and constantly looking for it too, very promising. The fact that we came away with the win says a lot for the players and not too much for Pioli’s decision making on subs, which appears lacking, game after game.

  12. It’s time to give Romero more playing time and see if he can do better than Chukwueze. I don’t like Chuks playing style at all. Always running head on. He does best when he tries to find the cross into the penalty area. Unfortunately we have too few players getting into the box. But he needs better judgement in his game, maybe sometimes just play the easy ball instead of loosing it.

  13. Idiot says Chuk has had plenty of chances. What are these ”plenty of chances?” 20 mins at the end of games? A single half of football every month or so? That’s enough according to you? Stop writing garbage like this. Clueless people writing for this site.

    1. Hah, You seriously have a wierd obsession with Chuku. This has to be Chuku. Literally everyone in the world but you sees how disappointing he has been so far. All you do is go to every comment section and get mad at everyone for speaking the truth. What’s more likely, that everyone else is crazy or you just can’t see clearly because you have a huge crush on him?

  14. First of all, he was 20 mil. Same as Pulisic, same as Musah, and Reijnders was 19 mil. Saying most talented is your opinion.
    Nobody said anything about not trying to adapt him to the team, but just like CDK, you certainly don’t adapt the team’s tactics to fit one player. He hasn’t performed well so far and needs to do better. There is nothing wrong with being honest about that, and the few that are pretending that has been doing great aren’t helping anyone.

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