AC Milan 4-2 Novara: Tops and flops for the Rossoneri as midfielder shines

By Isak Möller -

AC Milan won their final friendly clash of the pre-season earlier today, finding the back of the net four times against Novara. Below are the tops and flops for the Rossoneri, who now will prepare for the opener against Bologna. 


Davide Bartesaghi: He played with a great personality today and didn’t look under pressure one bit. Even though he has played a lot as a left-back in his career, he’s looking good in the heart of the defence thanks to his size and physicality.

He won several duels against the Novara attackers and also drove forward with the ball when needed, especially on one occasion when he set up a 1v1 for Noah Okafor (he really should have scored).

Yacine Adli: The Algerian was very composed on the ball, always finding the right pass bar a few misplaced ones. He showed off his vertical passing as well with some lovely balls from a standstill position, which isn’t easy.

Once again, he’s had a very good pre-season and that is despite playing in the defensive role in Milan’s three-man midfield. A loan might still be the right move for him, but the Rossoneri should perhaps not sell him because the talent is clearly there.

Samuel Chukwueze: Very lively on the ball and also bagged his first goal for the Rossoneri, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting it home. He came close to another goal on a few occasions and added the necessary flair to Milan’s attack.

His ability in tight areas is impressive and he will certainly be an important player for Pioli’s men this upcoming season. It remains to be seen if he will win the battle against Pulisic or not for the starting spot against Bologna.


Alessandro Florenzi: Just looked sloppy overall and didn’t add that much to Milan’s game. He had one huge giveaway when the scores were still 2-1 and Novara really should have converted the chance. Then again, Pioli seems to be playing with inverted full-backs and Florenzi might not be used to that yet.

Simon Kjaer: He was okay defensively overall, even if he lost the pace battle against a Novara attacker on their second goal (which was bad). The big issue, however, was the fact that he missed several good heading opportunities at the other end.

Luka Romero: He helped set up the first goal and thus had a promising start to the game. However, he wasted several opportunities for Milan – some very good, some decent – and will be disappointed with his own finishing.

Tags AC Milan Novara


          1. as i understand he is an important figure in the dressingroom. Like Ibra was.
            And its not the same as Theo. he gets 5.1M gross.
            im sure the managment and Pioli know why they keep him

          2. “so earning the same as Theo for being injured and barely playing is not a big deal? I disagree”

            Too bad your disagreeing makes zero difference. Florenzi gets paid for his leadership and locker rooms skills – not for playing 90mins each week. Fail to understand that means zero understanding for team sports such as football.

          3. @bb so I guess I can’t have an opinion? it’s too much in my opinion for a guy who is injured majority of the time and is on the bench as well while playing pretty poorly.
            Florenzi isn’t some magician in the locker room unless you’ve got the inside scoop we’re all missing. From what we’ve heard from interviews Maignan is most definitely THAT guy

          4. “From what we’ve heard from interviews Maignan is most definitely THAT guy”

            Have you ever even played team sports? One leader in the locker room isn’t enough. There’s gotta be many. Different types of persons.

      1. Agreed. Funny how as soon as anyone points out something like this, the usual suspects come out and defend like their life depends on it. Florenzi is on a high salary in relation to this team and is washed up, it’s facts. Locker room guys are important, but they usually make the least on the team. Plus, his contract runs until 2025, smh

        1. Agreed, this guy earns more than Maignan who’s not only a phenomenal player unlike florenzi but he’s a boost to the locker room as well

      2. Well, think about it. What team in this world wants a player on a high salary who is injured?
        It’s easy to say “get rid of him!” To where?
        Football contracts cannot be terminated without the player’s agreement

  1. Adli’s issue is that he is awful in the defensive phase of his duties as a midfielder.
    He is very good on the ball, great vision and passing ability, but his defensive awareness and effort is what keeps him on the sidelines. His man constantly ran past him and on a few Novara counter attacks Adli wasn’t hustling back.
    He should go to a team that will play him as a free roaming playmaker that is not required to defend, or he needs to work harder to improve in that phase, since he has the frame for it.

      1. I submit to you that a proper DM won’t solve that issue, the problem is the team setup, if you can notice this I don’t know how Pioli hasn’t been able to figure this out for over one season now and as long as those gaps remain, our defenders will always look stupid. The team setup is poor especially in the defence phase, the attackers need to know what to do when we loose possession and the team overall shape is poor and I’d say we don’t even have a shape.

    1. Part of the explanation of some of the performances was that it was 30 degrees celsius out there.

      I have seen a lot of Adli in Bordeaux, and he is not that poor in the defensive phase. Normally, he is good at pressing, but his tempo is not great. But neither is Krunic’s or Bennacer’s. With no Bennacer, Adli really fits that position best, so it might be wise to keep him, at least until January. I like the player, and his vertical passing is better than that of Krunic.

      1. Adli in Bordeaux mostly played as one of the 2 playmakers behind the striker. And his defense has been an issue in every game he has played for Milan, not just today because it was 30 C.
        Also, being able to press doesn’t mean that he is good in the defensive phase. Kalulu, Tomori, Bennacer and Tonali are great at pressing but their positioning is bad. They are like cats chasing a laser pointer. That’s why Milan midfield and defense were so bad last season.
        A smart team would bait them into chasing them around and have other players run behind them for a goal or a good chance. You can see how many goals Milan gave up last season with players running freely behind the midfielders

    2. Imagine the same argument had been put on Pirlo..there wouldn’t have been the greatest DLP ever. He needed more physical midfielders next to him to reach his legendary status.
      Why not give Adli the same chance?

      1. Few things.
        Adli can’t shine Pirlo’s shoes.
        Football today is faster, more physical and way more based on athleticism than in Pirlo’s time.
        Pirlo behind him had some of the best defenders of all time: Maldini, Nesta, Stam etc. Tomori, Kalulu, Kjaer, Thiaw are not Maldini, Nesta, Stam.
        Pirlo was great with the ball at his feet and a game changer but he was also a game changer and a liability defensively. He was the weak link and one of the main reasons why those teams were conceding so many goals.
        Pirlo issue was his lack of speed, strength, and small stature. He couldn’t do anything to change that.
        Adli is tall, with decent speed and strength but he is worse than Pirlo defensively. So it comes to lack of understanding, lack of awareness and lack of effort in Adli’s case.

        1. Adli just doesn’t have a role in Pioli’s scheme for better or worse. I think everyone understands this. Nothing against the guy personally, but we just need to move on from him.

  2. Is there a place Pioli intends to take substitutions to? I don’t get why he cannot use enough subs in a friendly game. Romero looked to fail from the moment he was played on the LW, same with the Florenzi experiment, I’d expect we’d try the academy guy enough of this Florenzi madness,he can remain on the bench as a cheerleader. it’s same complain square peg in round holes.

    1. Pioli has already made up his mind on the starters and who to use as subs. That’s why he’s trying to get these players into 90min shape. The rest will get their chances during the season only via injuries.

      1. This is already and deficiency for the team cus these players cannot play all games, and when the need to rotate comes we’d have an unprepared and seemingly clauses team B, last season was a preamble. He should be able to give them clear instructions on what he wants unless he doesn’t do that.

    2. I don’t understand why he can’t make subs a little earlier. It’s preseason, this is where you experiment. I really would have liked to see Chaka get a little longer run than 3 minutes.

      1. It beats my imagination, I would have loved to see how he handles the big stage too. For the sake of the team’s growth I hope Pioli delivers a masterclass this season.

      2. Because there’s no rush to get Chaka game ready. Whereas the A-Team and reserevs need to be game ready and fit when the season starts.

        Chaka will still be playing with the Primavera.

  3. Adli: “A loan might still be the right move for him, but the Rossoneri should perhaps not sell him because the talent is clearly there.”
    – Agree 100%.

    Kjaer: “The big issue, however, was the fact that he missed several good heading opportunities at the other end.”
    – Not really his main task now is it? When Giroud does that, now THAT’s something but we shouldn’t be counting on CBs to score the goals.

  4. I was actually impressed by Romero once again. He’s been a positive revelation this preseason. It was evident today that LW does not suit him but his grit is evident nevertheless.

    Okafor was lively and our attacking line was really dynamic with him up front. Maybe, he should occupy our missing ST positions. That way we also have good use of all of the wingers, Leao/Pulisic and Chuk/Romero.

    Adli had some good moves and passes in the middle but defensively he’s not there.

    Primavera guys, Bartesaghi was really composed playing LCB. It’s still early but he might be a solution to our LB/CB cover something like Kalulu for RB/CB.

  5. The big issue for Kjær was his miscued clearence on the first goal, and his lack of pace on the second.

    Florenzi should be commended for the pass he made to Romero in the build up to the first goal.

    Romero is not good enough one-v.-one to be playing as a winger. Would perhaps fit better centrally, in his favored position. But we have too many wingers at the moment: 7 if my count is right, so perhaps he should move out on loan?

  6. Let’s hope Pioli doesn’t prefer Pulisic to Chukwueze as a starter in the Milan line up. According to this article Adli’s despite last season lack of minutes still continues to impress, maybe Pioli may considered him a lot more this season if he is not loaned out. In all this, it is becoming clear as it was last season that the issue the team is like to face that will determine results, is how Pioli manages his team selections game by game.

    1. Doesn’t really matter – either one of them is a BIG upgrade to what we had last season. Puli is contributing assists playing from the Right.

    2. The World Cup and lack of reinforcements hindered his ability to rotate as well as the lack offensive players at his disposal. This year he got a more complete squad, minus a complete defensive minded midfielder. We gave up our best ball winners over the last two seasons and added more speed to the lineup. My guess is he has the intent to score more, use speed to keep our opposition cornered and hemmed in to make up for our lack of complete players in midfield as well as to protect our green defense.

      That is his best chance, speed and high pressure, with unpredictability. It can work since many teams weakened their backlines or didn’t bring in established players to reinforce them. We will wait and see.

  7. We will get r*ped throughout the season. If we get points is again for the individual plays of Leao, Theo, Giroud and etc. We will not have a teamwork just like we did not have it in previous season.

    Instead of firing Maldini & Massara, Pioli should have been fired. The three rats doomed us: Pioli, moncada and Furlani.

    1. Hahahaha, spot on, I just didn’t want to be commenting exactly what you have said cus it’s what I shouted out last season. it’s more of Pioli cus the other two have the function of recruitment not training and game tactics. Seeing the Premier League kick off yesterday I’d say we are a joke as we have no idea how a proper football team plays. The movement of the ball is too slow, we have no runners behind defense line, even when Theo makes those runs, the ball never comes and dude has given up. Players rather loose the ball on a stupid 1v1 that play an easy one-two pass, the list is endless.

    2. Plenty of people with disagree with you and Dave on this…

      There were a lot of reasons for the way last season played out, but the biggest one was the lack of reinforcements from the season before. Pioli did ok considering the lack of depth he had.

      The “Three Rats” as you called them have completely revamped this team thus far.

  8. Kjaer was one of my favorite defenders but yes he’s been badly out of form. That injury sadly did a number on him. Part of me says it’s time to part ways, but then we would have to look for another defender.

    Anyways an overall good performance.

    1. Also unlike the negative comment above, I do not share the same sentiment. This team is actually really good in most departments to having a great fluid attack. The preseason is a preseason.

      We will do fine this season. The question how good? We will have to see. 4th place or higher is my guess.

  9. One last point. Everyone judging everything on individual mistakes in preseason have to understand that’s wrong. You cannot predict based off preseason. Some players may lack sharpness and the effort is often lower in preseason, but this won’t accurately predict the outcome of a season. Obviously Pioli shouldn’t start some of these players, like Florenzi, but my point stands.

    Don’t put so much into these preseason games.

    Trust me on this one. I’ve seen it many times.

    1. Let me elaborate.

      Players may be instructed in preseason not to have the same urgency as competitive matches, because we don’t want to risk injuries in friendly games. It would be pointless. Calabria had a good game but he was injured earlier preseason.

      A friendly game is essentially a training match. Also doing subs late has a point as getting some new signings use to 90 minute games is essential.

  10. I think Pulisic as CM will better while Chukwueze plays From the Right. Thereby adding more threat to d Attack



    . GIROUD

    1. I would start with Noah, for skill and speed up front. I would only bring Giroud in against teams that sit back if we need a tall presence in the box.

      Our lineup is fast. Giroud Isn’t.

    2. not sure coach sees RLC as a pivot…also he mentioned not liking that position (the position chelsea played him) in an interview where he talked about his role.

  11. Even the blind can see that Yacine Adli got the talent and it’s natural with him but just because of the aforementioned player I really don’t want AC Milan to get another midfielder as it would be one too midfielders as Gattuso said that Musah is like Kessie and that with little training and instructions on how to move on the pitch he would be able to fill the gap left by Kessie departure to Barcelona and the same can be said in Adli case as the coaching crew can run him through the defensive regimen and with that, couple with Adli innate talent I believe he would displace Krunic before Bennacer comeback early December.
    Nothing is impossible if Adli has the will and I know he has as he doesn’t want to leave either, so the Management and the coaching crew can use that to their advantage.
    I rest my case.
    If Pioli should support him has he had supported Krunic then Adli could be AC Milan new Pirlo as has all the techniques except the defensive skill and that’s where the coaching crew come into play.

  12. It will be interesting to see how the season unfolds. The switch to a 4-3-3 means good competition among Leao, Chukwueze, and Pulisic and decent depth with Romero and Chaka Traore but I don’t see the same depth in midfield. CDK and Diaz are gone and Bennacer is injured. Reijnders and Loftus Cheek look good but I don’t know much about Musah. I thought he would compete with Krunic but apparently he’s been playing as a mezzala. So I guess our starting midfield is Krunic, Loftus Cheek, and Reijnders until Bennacer returns. A lot of uncertainty on the bench with Pobega, Musah, and Adli Kjaer’s form/fitness is worrying but the youngsters seem good enough to cover. I have faith in Okafor given that he was also a target of the old management.

    1. Depth is unknowable when there are no subs in the friendlies. It may be there but hasn’t been shown to the public. Hes getting guys in shape because the 433 means they will be one of the longest distance traveled teams in the league and in the friendlies against stronger teams, the lower work rate players were exposed.

      It was that or experiment and I suppose the pressure of the start of the season prioritized getting the most he could from the guys he had. But not giving Chuk and Musah run with the first team can mess with a player unless the coach has given them a clear understanding of what he expects.

      Definitely looking forward to seeing what the plan is and how it changes based on the match.

  13. We can all agree Kjaer and Florenzi have overstayed at this point. I’d love for Kjaer to join the coaching staff, but Auntie Flo needs to be released.

  14. I think at this point, Colombo should be the main striker instead of Giroud.
    Giroud could not even find net against Tunisian club.
    However I doubt it to be happened, as Pioli choose his starting 11 based on his personal preferences, not the fact during the friendlies.
    Therefore Giroud and krunic would be starter as always

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