How individual mistakes are killing Milan’s attacks and influencing Pioli’s instructions

By Rohit Rajeev -

AC Milan got the job done against Lecce on Sunday as they ran out 2-0 winner, but a rather worrying trend continued whereby there were multiple individual errors on display.

You can read our full tactical analysis on the game here, but one of the points that was highlighted was the amount of individual play which was relied upon in order to create the spark that finally broke through a deep defence.

The problem with relying on the decision making and execution of single players is that it cannot be controlled by the head coach, and it is much more individualistic than, for example, putting together a passing move to break through the lines of an opposing defence.

Looking specifically at Sunday’s match, the easiest target of all is Ante Rebic. When the ball was crossed into the box by Theo Hernandez, the Croatian’s poor first touch completely let him down and allowed defenders to recover.

If he were perhaps in a better run of form and therefore feeling more confident he probably traps that ball without the same apprehension or potentially even takes on a first time shot.

Then we come to Junior Messias, who started on the right wing. He saw Brahim Diaz running in behind and put too much power on his pass. The distance was just 6-10 yards and he did not even come close to getting it right.

Brahim Diaz was given the nod in the playmaker role after a few starts wide on the right and he did not have his best game. He could have put Rebic through, but once again his pass was aimed elsewhere.

Back to Messias. When Milan managed to split the Lecce defence to put them in some difficulty, the Brazilian wasted the opening with a mis-directed pass.

One of the ways of breaking through a team that are parking the bus is quick one-touch football. Milan got from the wing to the central area, yet Rebic misplaced his pass.

Sandro Tonali was not immune to this either. The midfielder wasted a perfect counter-attacking chance that Milan conjured up and we are not really sure who he was aiming for with his pass but it did not get close to a recipient.

Finally, we come to two chances in the space of 15 seconds. Theo had a perfect chance to find Messias and then Brahim Diaz ignored an open Leao to shoot at the Lecce wall.

Of course it goes without saying that all of these players are professional footballers and pointing out such mistakes from the perspective as a journalist or fan is admittedly rich.

However, it is important to highlight that these mistakes ruin the pressure that Milan are able to build and that ‘tactics’ cannot make them disappear: it has to be improved upon by individuals themselves.

Milan did get a victory on Sunday, but the previous games against Bologna and Empoli before that did not yield three points which was again because of poor finishing and execution in the final third.

When people say Milan’s defensive style of football is not ‘sustainable’ and Pioli cannot coach an attacking style, these clips show that the Rossoneri do commit players forward but often surrender possession in a way that leaves them open for a counter.

Lecce do not have the attacking threat to turn these mistakes into goals, but rest assured Napoli and teams like Roma do, which is why pragmatism often comes into the equation.

Tags AC Milan


  1. Its nothing when you compare How Pioli is relaying on INDIVIDUAL BRILLIANCE (Leao, Mike, Theo) to score goals, more than collective build up play with rhythm, coordination between players.

    1. Wait what? If the players cant make a 10m pass, then what build up doyou expect?
      individual briliance is all that is left.

      1. That’s what I am saying for 3 years. Our playing style is a joke under Pioli. Unattractive football, no coordination, anticipation between players. Bad passes, movements and we ends up losing the ball so often. Few things repeat is the leao brilliance at the left flank, high pressing and Maignan long balls. But luckily we are getting results.

        1. we needed a right winger for a decade almost, Pioli is given midfielders, that play right back, former pizza deliverers as attackers on that side..another option there has a history of injuries and missed more time than he was present for. Coaches can’t give inconsistent players lacking talent, skillsets offensive instructions, you don’t ask players to play a long ball game that can’t win arial duels. You can’t ask poor passers to make quick one twos with a fast build up, you can’t play 2 strikers with players that don’t have scoring instincts and good first touches. The coach operates with the tools he is given. What we had to rely on is individual brilliance from Ibra, Giroud, Leao, Maignan and Hernandez, Kessie, Bennacer, Tonali and Diaz at times. We punched well above our weight for a few years. We play moneyball and won a championship, are in the semifinals of the champions leauge after beating 2 teams who play the football you are clamoring for. That indicates the validity of your suggestion is questionable. Tactics are adapted to players, players do not adapt to tactics, very seldomly can they do that. Those who can, cost a premium that we are not able to pay in salaries nor transfer fees.

          1. We have two players who are brilliant at passing
            One is Bennacer and the other is Yacine Adli who should play much more than he does

  2. Amazing how Leao puts in such terrific performances given how often attacks are wasted by silly errors like the ones highlighted here. It gets so frustrating to see things break down or advantageous patterns of play squandered by just simple lack of quality.

  3. The second leg of Chelsea / Madrid showed the difference between great offensive teams and ones lacking finishing ability. Chelsea panicked when the ball was in the box, shoot or pass, take a touch or first time it, they got it wrong time after time. Madrid on the other hand were calm and clinical. Chelsea aren’t a poor team, have immense talent, but they aren’t automatic or instinctual in attack. We have both a lack of talent and a lack of decisiveness (as a result of not having a coherent attacking strategy).

    So much to say, we need better players and we need better coaching.

  4. All this detailed analysis of the failures of Rebic, Messias and Tonali, without ONE mention of how Giroud consistently makes wayward passes in the attacking phase and ruins everything.

    Great for goals, terrible to rely on in the build-up.

  5. A very good article.If the coaching staff can get such clips and show them to the team,I think they can improve. This missed passes or errors from players happened against Napoli too.
    There is room for improvement.

  6. This is nothing new. It’s been obvious since last season. Decision making in the final third needs work. That’s what Ibra brought to the team when he was healthy, quick thinking and great decision making. A perfect example from last season is when he headed the ball to Tonali instead of going for goal in the last minute against Lazio. Giroud also brings that but to a lesser degree. The others are not on that level. Some will need to be replaced but a lot of them are just young and will improve. Some already have improved but adding more quality to the squad (a top striker and right winger) will accelerate that.

  7. Three years and same $hitty displays happening over and over again. It means.. The problem is the coaching staff. It’s been a problem since Pioli took over.

    The coaching staff has Zero knowledge on improving the technical aspects of a player. Pioli needs someone to assist him who is good at the technical aspects and can improve these young players technically.

    We need someone like arteta who can improve players and teach them how to navigate tight spaces with improved ball control.

Comments are closed

Serie A Standings

Live football scores . Current table, fixtures & results.