Inter 1-0 AC Milan: Five things we learned – miscalculated gamble with two positives

By Ivan Stoev -

Following a disastrous month of January, AC Milan faced city rivals Inter in the Derby della Madonnina hoping to get back to winning ways and back into the top four too.

Piolo made a lot of changes with the biggest one being the formation switch to a 3-5-2, which seemed rather unusual before a big game like the derby, but considering the previous results something had to be done.

Unfortunately for the coach, the first half was pretty much a disaster with Inter opening the scoring before half-time through Lautaro Martinez’s header. The second half was a bit better for Milan, but they again struggled to create big chances and eventually registered a fourth straight defeat.

The bright side, if there is any, was that this time around the defence did actually look more solid compared to the recent run of games, but the toothless attack led to Milan not picking up any points from the game. Here are five things we learned…

1. From villain to (almost) hero

Ciprian Tatarusanu has been under a lot of criticism as of late and probably rightfully so as he has not really been able to step up and help his team in this difficult moment, instead making the defensive unit more nervous.

That being said his defenders haven’t exactly made life easy for him either and it was no different against Inter as shot after shot came in, though this time the Romanian looked really sharp.

Tătăruşanu made some crucial saves against the likes of Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku to really keep Milan in the game, and the goal he did concede came from a corner where nobody picked up the Argentine striker.

2. Disastrous defending continues

The only reason the score was just 1-0 was due to some vital saves from Tătăruşanu and certainly not because of the defence being solid. The three centre-backs were always going to make things a bit tougher because of the sheer numerical factor, but Inter still found spaces and chances easy to come by.

Realistically, the defending was better than the previous games, yet it was still not on the needed level as both Kalulu and Kjaer just don’t seem to be up for the challenge in this particular moment.

If Pioli were to switch to a 3-5-2 permanently he would need three dependable defenders so it will be interesting to see how he approaches the situation.

3. A miscalculated gamble

As we said, Pioli decide to switch formations for the Inter clash, and ignoring the fact that may be a bad idea to begin with we need to mention that he clearly did not get his line-up right either.

Playing Origi and Giroud up top was ridiculous since the Frenchman is desperately needing a rest and one cannot imagine him being useful in a counter-attacking approach, while Origi has shown very few positives signs since arriving.

One goal for the Belgian against Sassuolo while his side were losing by a huge margin does not make him a game-changer, whilst leaving the actual game-changer on the bench at the start in Rafael Leao is almost unforgiveable.

In the middle he choose to deploy Tonali, Krunic and Messias and in fairness Pioli didn’t have Bennacer to fall back on, but Messias has been struggling in his regular position so to try and deploy him as a mezzala – a position he is yet to play for Milan – against a top side means it is no surprise the Brazilian was subbed off at half-time.

Bringing players off the bench didn’t help either, although Saelemaekers seemed decent playing as a right wing-back and Malick Thiaw also impressed in the final 20 minutes of the contest. It felt like a terrible executed plan.

4. Thiaw knocking on the door

Thiaw came on in the second half and looked very solid against Lautaro and Lukaku in the little minutes he had on the pitch. Hopefully that means he has shown enough for Pioli to start him given that pretty much all of his centre-backs are in a disastrous form.

Turning to Thiaw now seems like a no-brainer at this point since the youngster has always been solid when given the opportunity as he’s shown good strength, pace and defensive awareness.

5. Toothless in attack

Whilst Milan managed to concede just once this time around, they offered close to nothing going forward as a consequence, amassing a shameful zero shots on target.

Pioli’s rotations did not change anything and leaving last year’s MVP in Leao out of the line-up probably didn’t help, but the lack of creativity and sharpness in this team is frightening and with no winter reinforcements it seems that Pioli and the management will be hoping for a miracle run of form again to get a top four finish.

In any case, there has to be changes in that department in the summer transfer window – hopefully with a set formation by then – though as the weeks go by the task of qualifying for the Champions League gets tough and anything else would be a failure. Milan risk going back to square one and erasing all the good work in the past two and a half years.

Tags AC Milan Inter Milan


  1. What we learned?

    1. Two benchwarmers attack do not make.
    2. No Theo & Leo, no joy.
    3. Calabria is not a captain material, atm he is not even starter material
    4. No matter how bad Dracula is, he is only small part of the problem, our tactics was not adapted to compensate for his weaknesses which leaves both him and our defenders exposed.
    5. Pioli has lost the plot, he is drowning and dragging the club with him to the bottom. Management unfortunately lacs the backbone or courage to do what is necessary.

    Addendum: If this continues, say goodby to CL football for a good long while.

  2. Most of what we learned, we already knew, but somehow Pioli doesn’t,
    Calabria should not be starting or playing at all. Every dangerous attack comes from his side. His positioning is terrible and everyone is going past him with ease.
    Tonali is just not good enough to be a regular starter for a top team. Maybe you could get away with it when we had Kessie doing the work of two midfielders but not anymore. He is always losing his mark defensively , and offensively he doesn’t bring anything to the table. He doesn’t want the ball, as soon as it comes to him he just kicks it ahead to nobody in particular. I don’t want to hear about how hard he runs, that’s not good enough. Sit him down and lets see what Vranckx can do.

    Maybe Ibra coming back can get this offense on track. I watched the game against Roma from last season when Ibra was in there and the movement and the passing was so much better. Looked like a different team. Ibra was dropping back and they were playing through him. The team kind of lost that when he got hurt. The offense stopped flowing and they would just wait for Leao to do something, or Theo to make a big run. They need to get their movement and passing back and hopefully Ibra can help with that.

    1. basically they need to run/move more. Thats about it. They’re way 2 static, when attacking, when defending, with ball, without ball. Move ffs. Open space, make space, cover space. Move. They been moving without Ibra last season pretty well, idk why we need him now. Did they forget how to move? Cant be relaying on a 41 yo to make the troops move

  3. Did you guys purposefully make an effort to properly write “Tătăruşanu” just because he did well ? 😂😂😂😂
    He deserves his praise for this game but let’s not kid ourselves, he still needs to prove he can carry the shirt.
    The rest of the players… they need to explain themselves. Pioli can’t simply be the devil in this story.

    I’m not convinced having Leao in that first half would have done that much of a difference. He came on and things got better but that doesn’t mean that he would have contributed more if he started.

    Another positive I think is the way we ended the game. Pioli switched back to a back 4 and Thiaw really managed well against Lukaku. I feel that something clicked at the end.

    1. Just pair those and kjaer as CBS then deploy kalulu as right back
      Put Calabria where he suppose be on the wonder the nationals keep on snubbing him

  4. We also learned that Yacine Adli was only a figment of our imagination all along. There is no Yacine Adli, there’s never been. We just collectively imagined Yacine Adli existed. He’s not real.

  5. A guy who I’m also seriously beginning to think has also turned into an imaginary being, a daydream, I don’t know, a dreamy reminiscence of times gone by, is Mr. Mike Maignan.

    Take a look at this headline from GAZZETTO DELLO SPORT:

    “Maignan might return in March”

    MIGHT return.

    Let’s read it again: he MIGHT return in March, he just MIGHT return. A GOALKEEPER who hasn’t played since SEPTEMBER last year.

    I’m really speechless.

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