Ibrahimovic stands isolated: Milan’s lack of diverse attack could be costly in top four battle

By Konstantinos Chatsianidis -

One of the biggest problems of AC Milan throughout the season hasn’t been highlighted as much as it should be. This is the amount of goals scored in general and especially those that came from the attacking players.

Like it or not, a fan of him or a hater, the fact is there to prove his worth once again. He may be 40 next year, but if there was not Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Milan would never be in second place with nine games until the end of the season. He managed to score 15 times in only 16 games out of 29 played until today. Many of them were decisive too.

Two goals against Bologna (2-0) and another brace against Inter away gave the Rossoneri the win in the first derby of the season, having missed two games because of COVID-19. There was no stopping him against Roma too, as he scored another brace in the 3-3 draw in San Siro.

The Swede continued his red hot form with a stunning winning goal at Udinese away (2-1) few minutes before the end of the match. He then equalised in added time against Verona at home in a 2-2 draw, before bagging twice against Napoli in a 3-1 win, handing another win to Milan, before going off injured.

After that injury he has not been the same, yet he managed four more goals against Crotone at home (4-0 win) and Cagliari away (2-0). Then came his second long injury, missing some important matches, but on his return he scored a goal against Fiorentina at Artemio Franchi opening the way for an extremely important three points.

Ibrahimovic aside, the scoring problem for the Rossoneri is very big. In the second place of scoring charts, are both Rafael Leao and Ante Rebic. The problem is that, together, they have scored five goals less than Zlatan. Specifically, they have 5 each, with the Portuguese searching for his first goal since January against Torino. As for Rebic, he scored a very important and beautiful goal against Roma, but you surely expect more from a player that is a starter most of the time (if not injured or suspended).

Things are getting even worse when you look at the third place. Here we have four players tied at just two goals each. Jens Petter Hauge is not to be blamed, as he had the least opportunities to showcase his worth, yet he earned a point for Stefano Pioli’s team scoring against Sampdoria after coming off the bench.

Brahim Diaz most of the time comes off the bench and this is why the fact that he has scored only twice is understandable, yet someone could stress that it is not enough for such a promising attacking player.

The real problem though, lies in the other two players who have scored only two times until matchday 29. These players are Hakan Calhanoglou and Alexis Saelemaekers. The Belgian international found the back of the net for the first time in October against Roma and for the last time in December against Sassuolo. It just so happens that he hasn’t scored in 2021, and we are already in April with just 9 games to go.

As for the Turk, he is an undoubted starter, even when he is not fully fit. He plays for the whole 90 minutes often, even when he is not the best player on the pitch. Yet, his only scoring contributions are a penalty against Lazio in December, and the winning goal versus Fiorentina a few days ago. Not enough for a No.10 who also happens to take, the most of his teams’ set pieces.

There is not much to be said about Samu Castillejo who in over 1000’ of playing time has only one goal, against Sampdoria in December. The same can be said about Mario Mandzukic, who until today, is a lost gamble for Milan, as he has managed to play just 76 minutes in the league without scoring.

Starting against Parma, with Leao, Brahim and Mandzukic returning, these numbers have to be better until the end of the season, because the fact that Milan is still 2nd seems like a miracle, with the attacking players performing as they are until today.

READ MORE: Kalulu in line to get another start as Pioli makes decision on Saelemaekers

Tags AC Milan Ante Rebic Brahim Diaz Hakan Calhanoglu Mario Mandzukic Rafael Leao Samu Castillejo Zlatan Ibrahimovic
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