Milan suffered only their second loss of the season last night as Atalanta managed to score three goals at San Siro. The Rossoneri were outplayed for most of the game and will have to do better next game.
As highlighted by MilanNews.it, it would be careless to summarise such a clear defeat by pointing to a few absences. Having said that, Stefano Pioli’s decision to play Soualiho Meite as the trequartista really highlighted one thing.
Hakan Calhanoglu’s absence really affects the team’s balance. Against Cagliari, the Rossoneri managed to get by but the Sardinian side is completely different to Atalanta, especially if you look at a physical level.
Furthermore, of course, the early goal allowed them to manage and exploit Ibrahimovic’s dominance. So, back to the Atalanta game, would it had been different with Brahim Diaz instead of Meite? Maybe, but not enough to completely change the game.
The suspension of Alessio Romagnoli was also noted, although Pierre Kalulu made several good interceptions despite his mistake on Atalanta’s first goal. When in the right moment, the Bergamo side are extremely hard to stop.
What is rather evident, however, is that Milan have a hard time getting out of complicated situations without their ‘brains’: Ismael Bennacer at the start of the build-up and Calhanoglu when constructing the offences in attack.
You can give up one, but having to do without both of them makes it complicated, especially on evenings like last night. And that is not saying the replacements can’t perform, but they haven’t hit the right form just yet.
To date, Milan don’t have a total alternative to Calhanoglu, mainly on a tactical level, so much so that in the summer they will have to think about this. Let alone if the Turkish midfielder decides against renewing his contract.