High press and breaking the lines: Tactical analysis of Milan’s win vs. Fiorentina

By Rohit Rajeev -

Milan got back to winning ways against Fiorentina at the Artemio Franchi with a gritty 3-2 result in a well-fought match. Down below is a tactical analysis of the encounter, which wasn’t easy for the Rossoneri. 


Milan lined up with their usual 4-2-3-1 formation, while Fiorentina went with an unusual 4-4-2 formation, basically to press Milan further up the field while not compromising space on the wings when Milan countered.


Off the ball, Fiorentina maintained a double pivot in midfield and two wide men, defending in a 4-4-2 formation with Ribery and Vlahovic pressing Milan’s two centre-backs.

Fiorentina’s 4-4-2 off the ball

On the ball, Fiorentina played an asymmetric 3-4-2-1, with Milenkovic and Pezzella staying as the centre-backs while  Martinez and Caceres pushed forward as the full-backs. Eysseric and Ribery played behind Vlahovic.


While Ribery may be at the far end of his career, he has proven that he’s not deadwood and needs to be respected. Pioli certainly did that and assigned his best player in the form of Frank the Tank Kessie to follow Ribery like a shadow wherever he went. Kessie kept Ribery quiet for a good part of the game but was slow to react to his run from outside the box for Fiorentina’s second goal.

Kessie man-marking Ribery


Fiorentina, like all recent teams who pressed Milan out of the park, tried to stop the Rossoneri from building out from the back. They had Vlahovic and Ribery press the centre-backs and Pulgar press Kessie.

Fiorentina’s high press

Milan using Theo to break the press

Milan tried to break this press by passing towards Dalot and then using Kjaer to quickly switch play and have interplay between Theo and Hakan, who would break free of the pressing of Bonaventura or Pulgar.


Once again, Fiorentina’s idea was to press and therefore they played a high line and this was easily pierced by Kjaer with a long ball over the top for Zlatan’s goal.

Notice how high the line of defence is


It was certainly nice to see a Milan so inconsistent come back from 2-1 down to a win 3-2. Hopefully, this will provide the team with the confidence to power through the last ten games and confirm the Champions League spot or even win the scudetto.

READ MORE: Milan fully convinced by Chelsea loanee – €28m clause will be exercised

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