MN: Numbers behind Milan’s away defensive record make for grim reading

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan defensive numbers in general this season have been far from positive, but in particular away from home they are continuing to let in goals by the bunch.

As Anto Vitiello writes in his latest column for MilanNews, Milan’s defensive numbers away from San Siro are almost impressively bad for a team that has somehow managed to keep a spot in the top three of the table.

Milan have the fourth-worst defence this season so far if you consider away games and a team that should be fighting for the title has instead suffered from disastrous defensive numbers.

Only Frosinone (30), Cagliari (30) and Sassuolo (29) have conceded more goals than Milan (24) in away Serie A games so far in 2023-24, which puts the Rossoneri in fourth-last place together with Salernitana.

This stat alone is enough to highlight how the team do not have even a semblance of defensive balance, showing that the problem has not been resolved from earlier in the season and is unlikely to be before June.

Without balance and defensive stability it is very hard if not impossible to win trophies, because having to score three, four and five goals to win games is simply unsustainable.

The defensive record is not the only worry either, because Milan are one of the worst teams in Europe when it comes to discipline too.


Tags AC Milan


  1. The situation reads like a horror novel. Beats me how they have stayed in contention for a top4 position. Hope this mess will be resolved come the summer, because we will just have to make do with this then up then down performance which is busy defining our season.

  2. Individual quality seems to be the only thing saving our season. Whatever is done in training seems to fall apart either during the game or before it even starts, and half measures implemented during halftime or on the fly during play, are one again based on individualism rather than on tactics..

    From where we are sitting there seems to be a falling out between coach and players, and tactics are either not carried out or are inadequate.

    Mila\n has been in free fall for more than a year, and whenever we thought team is finally turning things around and starting to gain speed and altitude, free fall starts again.

  3. Defense is not only about the defenders themselves and the goalkeeper, it’s also about who is in the front of the defenders, the tactics used during games and of course the opposition.
    While both of them have been absent for a long time, we still have the same defenders during the 21/22 scudetto season, with the exception of Romagnoli who lost his starting position, everyone from Florenzi, Calabria on the right side, Theo on the left, Kalulu, Kjaer and Tomori are still here and we even had new comers who had good games like Gabbia (who is technically back from loan but who has improved massively), Thiaw (he did have good games) and Simic.
    So how did we go from 31 goals in the entire serie A in 21/22 to already 31 goals now (with games against Inter, Juventus, Atalanta, Lazio and Fiorentina to come) ? My answer: Kessie.
    Leaving a defense exposed WILL result in goals, no matter how individually good your defenders are. During the first 2 years of the last decade, Kessie was the man who stood up in front of the defense, covered up for Theo’s runs, applied pressure on the opposition’s midfield and allowed our midfield (Tonali, Bennacer, Diaz and Krunic) to focus mostly on the creative part of the game. His departure was not adressed during the summer of 2022, as Vranckx the only midfielder we brought wasn’t the man for the task and barely played anyways and was neither adressed in the summer of 2023, as neither Reijnders, Loftus-Cheek or Musah were defensive midfielders.
    Which brings me to the second part of the problem: the tactics. Every since Pioli’s arrival, Milan started to play as possession based game, who relies heavily on a high defensive line, pressing and man marking during the phase where Milan tries to win back the ball, the iconic system being the 4-2-3-1 with Kessie pretty much always part of the double pivot. Now this is not a bad tactic in on itself, but it puts tremendous pressure on the double pivot and you’ll always have to bear in mind the transition phase, especially against teams who sit back and wait for the counter.
    Now, with Kessie not being replaced, it would have perhaps being wiser for Pioli to take into account this limitation and change his tactics accordignly. But that wasn’t done properly as, even with a 4-3-3, the high defensive line is still there and, when Tomori was absent, was a big mistake since neither Kjaer or Thiaw were fast enough against Inter’s counters. Furthemore, Pioli still seems persistent in using this tactical pattern against pretty much everyone, with the notable exception of Napoli where we seemed more happy to sit back and wait and against whom, surprise surprise, had many good results even against the scudetto winning side.
    So overall, with no proper CDM and tactics that heavily utilise high line, pressing and man marking, sooner or later we were going to be found out, and it doesn’t take a very strong team to do so.

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