Lazio 4-0 AC Milan: Five things we learned – all three departments brutally exposed

By Ivan Stoev -

The new year went from bad to worse for AC Milan as they followed the 3-0 loss in the Suppercoppa Italiana against Inter with a 4-0 loss against Lazio in Serie A.

Following their loss against Inter, the expectations were that Milan would be eager to react and get back on track against Lazio, a game which is also of vital importance for the top four race. However, the Rossoneri continued to disappoint, as they have done throughout the whole of January.

Lazio only needed four minutes to open up the scoring through Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and they deservedly doubled their lead not long before the break through a goal from Mattia Zaccagni. Sarri’s men were comfortable on the ball and had no troubles beating Milan’s press, which was all over the place.

In the second half there were some bright signs from Milan with Charles De Ketelaere also coming on and looking sharper than usual. All hopes, however, were killed off in the 67th minute after a Luis Alberto penalty, followed by a fourth in the 75th minute from Felipe Anderson to humiliate Milan.

It was a truly shocking result and a very worrying performance from Milan who seem to play worse and worse with every game in the new calendar year. Here are five things we learned…

1. Disaster at the back

Fikayo Tomori and Pierre Kalulu continued to disappoint just as they have been for the past few games and arguably the season as a whole, which made it all too easy for Lazio‘s attack. This was seen for the first goal as the Frenchman stepped out, which caused the disorganisation leading to Milinkovic-Savic having an easy shot.

Sergino Dest had to fill in for Theo Hernandez at left-back and he too struggled. The American was at fault for the second goal as he failed to track the run of Marusic, and he was suspect on many other occasions while offering nothing going forward.

Finally, Davide Calabria also had a rough game and struggled a lot against Zaccagni, but unlike his team-mates at the back he made a few good challenges and actually seemed willing to put a foot in rather than just watch Lazio score.

2. Midfield duo struggling

Milan’s midfield duo were at the core of last year’s Scudetto as Ismael Bennacer, Sandro Tonali and Franck Kessie rarely had troubles dominating the middle of the park in the double pivot.

This year Bennacer and Tonali have managed to do a great job despite Kessie’s absence, but even they weren’t able to help the team to anything more in the capital.

The Algerian was the more active one out of the two as he tried getting out of the press and starting attacks, but that just wasn’t enough. Tonali was also fairly involved in the midfield, but he lost the ball plenty and from a positioning standpoint they both seem to have forgotten how to shield the back four effectively.

3. Attacking crisis

The struggles – or crisis rather – in attack persist as Messias and Diaz continue to offer next to nothing, whilst Olivier Giroud just cannot keep playing every game as he’s been pretty much invisible in 2023. He is struggling from post World Cup fatigue, and is without a goal for the Rossoneri since the Spezia game in November.

The main man Rafael Leao has also struggled for a few games now as he is failing to impose himself and he is not the game-changer we’ve seen him be. It doesn’t help that his team-mates have had a dip in form and are not giving him service, but he simply cannot be allowed to drift about in games at the expense of not contributing defensively.

4. A positive impact

It feels strange to mention positives following this embarrassing loss, but De Ketelaere did look sharp when coming on and actually tried to get on the ball and make things happen, at least before the third goal went in for Lazio.

The youngster seemed to relish the chance to come on and prove that he could do better than the shambles that came before and he had a fierce shot in particular that was well blocked among some other useful plays driving the ball forward.

The hope is that Pioli senses this could be a turning point and he gets the nod against Sassuolo since Brahim isn’t doing much better and continues to prove he can’t string several good games together.

5. Replacement needed

The whole team played dreadfully, but Tatarusanu is not helping with his poor goalkeeping either. The first goal wasn’t his fault but he could’ve done much better on the second goal as a shot from a narrow angle got past him, but that may be harsh.

However, he was very poor on the third where – prior to the penalty – he had plenty of time to come off his line and clear the ball that was aimlessly into the channel, but instead hesitated and that eventually led to the penalty which sealed the game for Lazio.

The Romanian has barely had a save in 2023 and it’s more than obvious that he’s not up to the job.

Tags AC Milan Lazio Milan

12 Comments

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  1. You have to stop being nice and call these guys out.
    1) Calabria has been awful. He is always out of position, leaving the right side wide open which Lazio exploited as did Lecce and Inter.
    2) Saying the midfield has done a great job this season despite Kessie’s absence is utterly ridiculous. That has been the biggest problem this season. Tonali was at fault for at least 2 goals against Lazio as well as many other goals this season for not tracking back and marking his man. Nobody wants to say it but he is the biggest reason Milan is conceding so many goals this season.
    3) Milan’s pressing has gone from their biggest strength to a major weakness. Milan was probably the best pressing side in Serie A. Everything they did came out of that. They created scoring chances off of turnovers and kept the pressure off of their defense. Now the turnovers and scoring chances aren’t happening and teams are easily breaking the press and it’s leaving the defense exposed.
    4) Kessie – I know people will hate this but that is the biggest reason for the drop in play this season. The guy did it all, an absolute beast in the MF. His defense, pressing, physicality was so crucial to what Pioli needs from the double pivot. It just doesn’t work without him and Tonali is not up to the task. Milan really needed to resign him or at least find a quality replacement.
    5) It’s not Tata’s fault. Yes, we all wish we had a better backup keeper and he makes me nervous as hell, but most of the goals are not his fault. Milan are leaving guys unmarked inside the box time after time and no keeper should have to deal with that. They were conceding too many goals before Maignan got hurt. Don’t make him the scapegoat.

    1. You’re not telling anything the “way it is”.

      You’re pointing out problems and not offering any solutions.

      It’s more complicated than your random list. A month ago these problems didn’t exist, now they do. The biggest difference is psychological. Something broke after Roma’s come back and the defeat to Lazio was reminiscent of the defeat to Atalanta that started this run we’ve been on for the past 2 years.

      There’s a very real chance it will end the run and return is to the team that struggled for a decade.

      There are no easy fixes. Pioli was right. We need to get back into training and work. And we need a break. We need a lucky deflection or the other team to hit the post. And then score on the break and that can end the mental block. That’s how fine a line it is. Not your fantasy.

      1. U clearly didn’t watch d match. Tata shud have probably saved all but d penalty gol wch he caused 4 lack of awareness. Kessie wasnt no beast….hw many matches did he start last season?? Our defence is d problem simple. We shud hv bought Berardi 4 RW….we didnt

        1. What are you even talking about? The first goal was Calabria being out of position, then not closing down his man, followed by Tonali not tracking back to pick up his mark, leaving a guy wide open from the penalty spot. You want to blame the keeper for that? Ok.
          The second goal Tata can take blame for even tho again he had a lazio player running straight at him after Dest got beaten.
          third goal is a penalty.
          Fourth goal again is Lazio player open point blank shot from 3 yards away. Really, that’s the keepers fault? Get real.
          Yes. Tata is not a good goalie, but if you are putting most of the blame on him you are really letting this horrible defense and midfield play off the hook. The majority of the goals Milan have let in this year are the fault of the defensive play more than the keeper.

      2. Again, you keep proving yourself as someone who has not watched the games this season and just looks at the table. To say these problems didn’t exist a month ago is so foolish. They have not played well all season. They have been conceding too many goals all season. We are halfway through the season now and they have played well in maybe 3 games. It’s gotten worse in the last couple weeks but anyone who was actually paying attention saw this coming. Maldini and management have depleted this squad. Their starting 11 is weaker and their bench is non existent. They need a starting quality midfielder now or they will not finish top 4. They also need a good CB with size so they can move to Kalulu out to RB and sit Calabria on his ass. That is the only way to save this season. But we all know they won’t spend the money to do it. Keep apologizing for the tho, you’re doing a great job.

    2. Agree with everything you said (1-4) – BUT NOT post #5. Tata is ATROCIOUS. Period. He should never wear the shirt again. He is one of the worst position keepers I have ever seen and 90% of goalkeeping is positioning. He commands ZERO of his 6 or the 18. The players are nervous with him behind and it shows. He makes so many mistakes it’s unfathomable that he still plays and unforgivable that M&M have not found a competent replacement for him. Just because Tata makes an occasional reflex save doesn’t mean he is any good. So points 1-4 you are spot on my friend but point 5 – no chance lol.

  2. The team won scudetto way too early and now we expect them to be the best. We forget that Milan is still in 2nd place and are still in the CL. The boys have the opportunity to turn things around. The objective is top 4 in the league and get through the CL groups. So far so good. The most important thing is to recognise the problem and fix it. We need to strengthen the team. The boys are obviously tired and have played way too many games. Also, Pioli needs to study more tactics. He is being outplayed too many times. He has done very well so far but needs to evolve quickly

  3. Come on now Ivan, how can you even say that Bennacer and Tonali have managed to do a great job despite Kessie’s absence? We all know that’s not true. The exact reason we are being outplayed in the middle is due to Kessie being missing or I should say what Kessie brought. Because no player currently can do that. I remarked on time how he kept pressing in the last 15 mins of each game in the run in to our season which is what was under appreciated.. Theres always a hole.between the CBs that’s always being exploited and that’s what Kessie mopped up. Neither Tonali not Benny can do that. They good tacklers but don’t read and position as well as Kessie

  4. 5 thing we need to do.

    1. Get a quality right winger.

    2. Bench Diaz. Cdk or Adil gets go ahead as AMF. Give Milan owned players priority.

    3. Give new keeper a chance. Bench Tata.

    4. Change tactics. 4321 or 442.

    5. Ask Poli to isolate at home for 2 weeks. He needs to reboot.

  5. I have said it even during our winning streak, the way the team is setup especially the midfield is wrong and now it’s shows. Bennecer should be doing what the coach is asking Tonali to do, Tonali should doing the dirty work while Bennecer controls the pace of the game, that’s the first mistake.

    Secondly the now useless formation banks on the two wingers dropping to give cover to the full backs and act as a first line to the midfield, and we know Leao cannot press to Save his life.

    And the coach seem not to understand how the formation is supposed to operate. And expecting the midfield duo to successfully mark out an overload of seven players when we loose the ball is unrealistic and that’s why the defence is always overrun.

    Sarri is a tactical person that why they did quick one touch play and we were all over the place chasing second balls.

    Thirdly we hold on to the ball individually for too long, Leao, Theo, Tonali and sometimes Diaz are all culprit most especially the first two and the trying too much to shine is also a problem. A quick touch here and there could be a big difference.
    Also the movement off the ball is poor or say nonexistent. I don’t know if the coach notices these flaws.

    Lastly CDK may need a good coach to unlock his potential, why ? Giving the clueless way the team is playing, I doubt he has proper instructions on what he should do, like it or not football is played on instructions not 11people running around like flies.

    I think if Pioli can adapt a tactics we’d be fine. But I doubt he has the balls the criticize and demand more from certain players and thus out struggle continues.l

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