AC Milan 1-1 Inter: Five things we learned – mixed signals and positive changes

By Ivan Stoev -

AC Milan faced their bitter rivals Inter on Sunday night looking to continue their unbeaten run and potentially get ahead of Napoli and climb to the top of Serie A after the Partenopei only managed a point against Hellas Verona.

Unfortunately, Milan also only managed a point against Inter which all in all seemed like the fair outcome with both teams having their chances, but failing to get the edge in the end. The game started off badly for Milan as Kessie foolishly gave away a penalty which was then converted by Hakan Calhanoglu, but the Rossoneri’s answer came shortly after when De Vrij put into his own net.

Inter were later awarded another penalty, but this time saved by Tatarusanu keeping Milan level. Chances followed but neither team could get themselves in front as Saelemaekers hit the post in the dying moments, but overall a draw seemed fair and Milan are still joint top. Here are five things we leaned…

1. Mixed signals

Franck Kessie found himself in the starting XI after a good run of form following a difficult start to the campaign, but started the game against Inter woefully giving away a silly penalty that he really shouldn’t have put himself in position to concede in the first place.

Excluding the penalty, the Ivorian did a really good job at man-marking Barella with the Italian struggling to make an impact in the game, and we all know he’s been a real engine for his side so in that aspect.

Kessie had the chance to snatch all three points for his team in the second half after the ball rebounded from the post into his path, but he failed to even hit the target and it did seem he should’ve done much better. A performance full of ups and downs for the Ivorian, but fortunately his team managed to get the point.

2. A big let down

Fode Ballo-Toure was thrown into the mix with Theo Hernandez out due to a suspension and it was clear that Inter were trying to force their attack down the right hand side where the Senegal international was.

Ballo-Toure was really poor on that left flank also giving away a penalty in a situation where it looked though as he should have reacted quicker and made an easy clearance before scything Darmian down. Instead he got himself a yellow and gave away a second spot kick.

The inclusion of Kalulu in the second half made a big difference for Milan and it’s beginning to be clear that Ballo-Toure is far from the good quality back-up Pioli needs on that left side. Fortunately for the former Monaco man, time is on his side and he can still prove himself, but he’ll need to do way better.

3. Shining light

Sandro Tonali seemed really determined to make an impact in the game and he did as his cross lead to Milan’s equalising goal. The Italian was fighting for every ball on the pitch as he showed great physicality and technical ability. He wasn’t afraid of going forward but he also helped a lot in defence and ran a lot through the time he was on the pitch.

His aggression was about the perfect amount as he was somewhat bullying Inter player at times without actually giving a foul away which is lovely to see as the balance he has to his game is wonderful. He keeps getting better.

4. Solid as a rock

Whilst Milan conceded and had two penalties given against them, it is fair to say that both of them were clumsiness from Kessie and Ballo-Toure rather than any mistakes from the centre-back pairing.

Tomori and Kjaer for their part were almost flawless as they managed to hold the defence tight and not allow any more goals in. Tomori’s pace and aggression was incredible with his speed allowing him to recover on multiple occasions while the Dane was as commanding as he usually is leading the line.

While Milan have had only four clean sheets out of the opening 12 games it’s fair to say that the number was going to be higher if everyone was defending at the same high standard as Kjaer and Tomori.

5. Great subs by Pioli

The coach did well with his substitutions on the night with Pierre Kalulu being a massive upgrade to Ballo-Toure on the left flank. The Frenchman also made a double block on Vidal’s attempts, keeping it 1-1, and made inroads in the attacking third too.

Ante Rebic and Alexis Saelemaekers did well after coming on, too. The Belgian was benched as he looked a bit tired in recent games, but provided a spark by wanting to make things happen. Unfortunately for him, he saw his long range effort hit the post in the final minute.

Rebic also played a role in this game as he finally found his way back onto the pitch after his ankle problem. The Croat replaced a seemingly tired Leao and really brought some freshness and sharpness to Milan’s game. He was causing trouble on that left hand side and especially in the last quarter of an hour when Milan were pushing to get a winner. It is reassuring that he looked in good shape.

READ MORE: Calhanoglu confronted for celebrating in front of Milan fans – the full reconstruction

Tags AC Milan Milan Inter


  1. Once you guys don’t like someone, you always go out to make them look like shit. Ballo-Toure was not the worst player yesterday. For all the flaks, he only played 45mins, why couldn’t Milan score and win the game in the second 45mins?

    Ballo-Toure had a bad game. He was hurried into the squad after deputising for Theo very well against Bologna. In that match, he got injured. So, yeah he had a bad game yesterday, but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad fit. Kalulu did better no doubt, but he didn’t show that when he came on for Ballo-Toure in one of the previous matches which got people worried since Theo was suspended.

    Now to the flop of the game. It was Lord Krunic. Absolutely a waste of space as an AM. Pioli messed up by not hooking him off and bringing in Bennacer on time. To make matters worse, Pioli took off Tonali and left Krunic on till 84th mins!

    If Krunic had left at half time, with Bennacer, Tonali on the field at the same time, with Leão or even Rebic coming on, the scores would have been different.

    1. You are obviously doing what you are trying to pin on the person that wrote this article. 😀 Ballo Toure was the worst by a mile, he conceded a penalty from a non existing threat, he did not cross the ball once, did not have a single attacking move and was a complete liability in defense. You don’t understand football, Krunić was there to cover Brozović, and he did it quite good. Broz was Inter’s best player against Real and in a few other matches, he was almost invisible yesterday. If you knew anything you’d see that. Calling anyone “Lord” just proves you’re an idiot, it is an old Arsenal joke, grow up.

    2. Sure, Krunic was awful but you are saying “Ballo-Toure had a bad game yesterday” but the FACT is that he hasn’t played any good matches. He’s been awful at every game.

      Kalulu should be the Theo’s backup from now on. End of discussion.

      And yes… If Krunic had been on the bench where he belongs, Milan would have won.

    3. May the good Lord bless you, I tot I was the only one who saw that useless krunic been left on the pitch after the first 45 mins… Pioli made horrible subs, why taking of Leao and leaving Krunic, playing diaz out of his natural position… Krunic did not create a single chance nor did he had a shot at all for the whole 84 mins he played and u removed Leao who was and always his a threat… Pioli practically was poor in his selection and subs.. I will play benacer in AM anytime anyday over krunic

  2. I agree on pretty much everything you said.

    In fact Brahim suffered a lot being put on the Right. Honestly we would have done better if Brahim was in the middle and Krunic on the right. Sure Krunic would still be more or less useless, but Brahim would have been in his natural position and would have had a way better game.

  3. Diaz is so much better at 10, in tighter spaces. This formation was like a return to Suso, except less effective. Then Saelemaekers came on and had some problems, but ultimately did well and had the nicest shot of the day.

  4. Krunic was great in that position against Inter. He was purposed with containing Brozovic and was spot on. Diaz would not have been able to handle that spot and there would have been a lot more build up plays if not for Krunic. As for dictating the attacking plays, krunic is not the man and Diaz is. Pioli got that one right for this game. Great tactical decision in my mind. Moving forward I don’t see Krunic back at that position unless there’s injuries

  5. At some point, I had a bad feeling that Kessie & Hakan planned that …. I hope he leaves in January if he doesn’t love my team

    1. Finally someone talking sense

      Kessie is not committed to the cause.

      You can clearly see the I don’t care attitude in him.

      My main problem is the Dumbo Coach Pioli who keeps playing Kessie

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