The decisions made by Stefano Pioli before and during the 3-0 win over Juventus have been described as a ‘tactical checkmate’ by MilanNews.
Pioli had courage and took risks that he could have paid for dearly, but he was convinced of his work during the week and of his ideas, and with three moves like an expert chess player he knocked the Old Lady down for the Rossoneri’s first win at the Allianz Stadium.
Defensive selections: The media reported throughout the week that there would be a battle between Kjaer, Romagnoli and Tomori to fill two of the centre-back spots, and Pioli decided to leave Romagnoli on the bench in favour of the Englishman.
His choice was rewarded as the duo out there showed painstaking attention on aerial balls and impeccable control of the penalty area, almost never being worried by Ronaldo and Co. They left an asphyxiating mark that did not allow the Juventus offensive manoeuvre to breathe at all.
The masked formation: Even for tactical systems that work best, the risk of becoming predictable is always there and that is why Pioli opted for a wild card of sorts. Rebic and Leao were available but he chose Calhanoglu on the left, Brahim Diaz in the centre and Saelemaekers on the right wing.
The surprising choices sent the Juventus rearguard into a tailspin as the three attacking midfielders were totally interchangeable and fluid, attacking zones and helping to create an unpredictability that was pivotal. Choosing Brahim Diaz as a starter turned out to be decisive as he was a real thorn in the side for Juve with his goal, and he will hopefully be a real weapon for the final three games.
The Croatian dynamo: Pioli knew he had some tricks up his sleeve by choosing to leave Rebic on the bench, and though his introduction was forced due to Ibra’s injury, he could have easily gone with the faster Leao to try and score a Parma-esque counter-attacking goal.
It took Rebic just over 10 minutes to add his name to the scoresheet as he found the top corner of Szczesny’s goal with a thunderbolt from just outside the box. He was flawless in big plays, so calling on the Croatian was yet another successful move by Pioli.