AC Milan 1-1 Porto: Five things we learned – answering the critics and battling fatigue

By Ivan Stoev -

AC Milan faced Porto in a game that had to be won if the Rossoneri had any hopes of qualifying for the round of sixteen in the Champions League.

Unfortunately, Porto had the exact same mission as they needed all the points they could get from San Siro to increase their chances of going through to the knockout stages, and they held Milan to a 1-1 draw with a very impressive performance overall.

In the first half Porto started off really well, scoring just after six minutes through Luis Diaz and stunning the home crowd. Milan eventually grew into the game and performed better in the second half of the game, but it was only enough for a point as they now have a draw and three losses, praying for a miracle. Here are five things we learned…

1. Not quite there yet

The Champions League is a competition where details really do matter and although Milan have been superb in Serie A they seem to fail in Europe because of these small details and their lack of experience at this stage.

It’s nothing to be ashamed of really as it is the first time playing in the Champions League for the majority of the squad, but it does show the true level of the team and what needs to be improved next season if the team was to be more competitive.

2. Fatigue kicks in

Alexis Saelemaekers wasn’t at his best against Porto as he looked a bit tired on the right side and failed to make an impact. His work rate was good as usual, but going forward he misjudged a lot of situations and failed to provide that final pass.

August 29, 2021, Milan, Italy: Milan, Italy, San Siro stadium, August 29, 2021, Alexis Saelemaekers AC Milan during AC Milan vs Cagliari Calcio - Italian football Serie A match Italian football Serie A match - AC Milan vs Cagliari Calcio, milan, Italy PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY - ZUMAl164 20210829_zsa_l164_203 Copyright: xFrancescoxScaccianocex

This is beginning to be a bit of a problem for Milan as they really don’t have that sharp, attack-minded right winger and as much as Saelemaekers is valuable because of his magnificent work rate, he simply isn’t efficient enough when it comes to the attacking part of the game and especially against the big teams.

3. Another reassuring performance

It hasn’t been particularly easy for Tatarusanu as of late as he was criticised quite a lot after having to go between the sticks and replace the injured Mike Maignan due to a couple of previous wobbly games.

However, the Romanian has turned things around as he has clearly improved a lot in the past couple of games, being crucial at times to keep his team in the game as he did against Porto and was deservedly given the Man of the Match award in our post-game ratings.

4. Not in condition

Brahim Diaz was out for a while because of Covid-19 and the Spaniard just didn’t seem to be fully fit on the night. Diaz is usually the player that got Milan out of the opposition’s high press with his dribbling, but he couldn’t do that against Porto and lost the ball on a couple of occasions where he probably wouldn’t have a month ago.

Brahim Diaz of AC Milan

However, it’s good to see him back on the pitch as he will hopefully aiming to redeem himself against Inter at the weekend, though whether he starts or not seems to be in doubt.

5. Impact man

With Calabria having a very shaky game by his standards due to dizziness, Pioli introduced Kalulu for the second half and the Frenchman really did inject some pace on that right hand side.

The youngster worked really hard defensively, taking care of Luiz Diaz by being proactive in attacking the passes wide and also was involved going forward as he managed to get the goal for Milan and bring them back level, though it was later given as an own-goal that he certainly forced. Hopefully Kalulu can replicate the good performance against Inter on the weekend with Theo suspended.


READ MORE: Milan project club symbols around city ahead of derby against Inter in front of 57k

Tags AC Milan Milan Porto

7 Comments

  1. Keith says:

    We didn’t learn this about Saelemakers, they knew this last year. Milan’s biggest weakness last season was their right wing and they did nothing to improve it. This is a failure by Maldini and management. Not upgrading the right wing position and not signing a replacement for Calhanaglou were huge errors and are hurting them in Champions League and will probably keep them from winning The Scudetto.

  2. Kourosh says:

    Milan are punching above their weight, that’s the truth.

    I see many armchair coaches take issue with our team and Pioli but the fact is we have 10 wins and a draw in 11 matches with an inferior squad compared to some of our opponents, and that’s thanks to Pioli.

    Now he doesn’t have a magic wand. We’re playing good football after 8 years of misery and getting pretty good results, too but there’s only so much that can be done when you’re starting winger is a 22-year-old Saelemaekers.

    Milan is a work in progress with Pioli. He needs more quality players to fill the holes in his squad and then some time for his young players to mature and grow further.

    While we as fans, need to have patience and trust.

    1. Solomon says:

      Correct.nice one

  3. tries says:

    ..maybe Saelemaekers needs to start getting some goals/assists and better now, I guess the board wanted to bring in a scoring right winger finally, that spot has been paining the whole team for some time and we still ended up sticking to Alexis and Samu, has it backfired? I try not to scapegoat or upset the scouts, Alexis tries hard and makes almost never costly errors, has a good workrate, covers lot up for defence, still a massive upgrade on Samu?

    has the last window till now an effect? bulk of transfer funds went behind Tomori-Tonali, no luxury.. we have a great GK now when we already had another (ahem) .. still don’t know who Messias/Pellegri are, Ballo-Toure looks like a gamble, Bakayoko was injured and has till now no magic, yeah new ones take time, they will be effective and a new direction from Paqueta/Piatek too hopefully

    It’s just so sad if we’re still talking about that right wing spot, on the pitch and emotions Milan and Liverpool are still rivals, can someone make a fraction of the numbers Salah is making from the same position? Milan is back in UCL but Liverpool by now is like a bit too far, the amount of misplaced passes or unforced errors in the first half-last game suggested it takes better mental calibration which was fixed and team took more risk like playing long balls, bit too late, I guess there were some miscalculations advancing onto this fixture. Rebic is less unpredictable from our strong left side while Leao is still ‘young’ .. I missed Rebic a lot

    wasn’t three points important or possible against Porto? Pioli has done great domestically and also on other European games but benching the best two players fresh from very last game was quite a statement (thinking of derby maybe?) Ibra should’ve started and stayed as long he could before Giroud, Kjaer was a monster against Roma, not injured and surely a better brain than the ‘captain’ who can’t handle players like Griezmann and contributes almost nothing going forward the way like Bonucci or Boateng sends the ball upfront (still respect for goals he scored in past or the yellow cards he used to avoid effortlessly) .. if Porto scored no more than one that’s pretty much due to them (except couple of saves from Tatarusanu)

    1. Nino says:

      Yeah right. Like the team was going to go on and win the UCL?! @Kourosh has stated the true position. This team is a work in progress and it is progressing well. Fans need to be patient. The scudetto is more important for now. There’s a chance.

      It’s practically impossible for Milan to return to UCL after several years and blow all opposition away just like that. The team still needs to grow.

      Forza Milan !!!

      1. Geekondrum says:

        Talk about being patient as said by @kourosh.

        We all want Milan to be king of Europe like we were, but it won’t happen overnight. Let’s keep building and gathering the much needed momentum.

        We need to concentrate fully on serie A

      2. tries says:

        winning the UCL and finishing at the bottom of group stage is like a same expectation, specially when the team is doing GREAT at home, look what Atalanta did in UCL last term and against Milan in Serie A. Inexperience did less harm than refereeing and injuries.

        Forza Milan!!

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