MN: Pioli eyes three-man backline as new option for Milan – the background

By Isak Möller -

During the pre-season friendly between Milan and Modena last night, which the former won 5-0, we saw a glimpse of a new tactical solution for the Rossoneri. Stefano Pioli seemingly tested a three-man backline. 

Matteo Gabbia, who is a centre-back, was fielded as the right-back once again but this time out, he actually stayed back a lot more. As highlighted by MilanNews, we saw glimpses of a three-man defence and it worked very well.

Gabbia, along with Fikayo Tomori and Alessio Romagnoli, were the centre-backs while Theo Hernandez and Alexis Saelemaekers acted on the flanks. This paid off in the attacking phase, with several beautiful give and goes, as well as good moves.

Rade Krunic and Brahim Diaz were the attacking midfielders in what perhaps can be described as a 3-4-2-1. The Spaniard was given a lot of space and made the decisions in attack, while the Bosnian focused more on the defensive tasks.

Rafael Leao was the man up front and overall, this new solution seemed to work very well. In the past, a three-man defence hasn’t been used much by the Rossoneri, but now Pioli actually has the right players to field one.

In addition to the three aforementioned centre-backs, he also has Pierre Kalulu and Simon Kjaer at his disposal. It might not be the best for every game, but it will be interesting to see if it can give them an advantage in some of next season’s clashes.

READ MORE: Signing of Leipzig star cannot be ruled out for Milan – the situation

Tags AC Milan Stefano Pioli


  1. Hahahahaha as it wasn’t obvious to all fans. It’s like revelation to Pioli lol. So wait… if we play a 3 man backline it’s the best for our centerbacks, might allow us to run 3 in mid and use tonali in his preferred position and would make Theo able to get forward more and attack the opponents. And it gives us 2 strikers so leao would be successful??? Whaaaat? What a revelation!! Awful coach. Late to the show Pioli. But better late than never.

      1. If they bought him it means Leao or Hauge (and maybe even both) are leaving. They did not buy an extra player for a position we have covered, I don’t have to know anything about it to tell you that.

  2. We will see against stronger rivals what it will look like, I think Alexis Saelemaekers is not a player who can do something against big clubs in the Champions League. Milan has to supplement this position with a much stronger and better player. like Pjanic. In place of Diaz should bring an experienced and strong player to that position of course for such a player Milan will have to invest a lot of money or try to bring on loan. And of course to the place where Calabria plays should bring a little better player

    1. Hahahahah, are you joking? Replace Saelemaekeres with Pjanić. Maybe replace Hernandez with Coutinho? Makes as much sense as what you said….Calabria was the best defensive full back of whole Serie A, added a few goals and assists on top of that, who would you replace him with? Maybe C.Ronaldo would be ideal for that position? 😀

  3. it just pioli never have the guts to try a new formation in the middle of competition. because he is afraid that swapping formation too often could bring instability. its logical reasoning. but that way of thinking make milan so predictable last season. so i guess he tried to fix that issue in this preseason by trying different formation.

  4. Finally pioli have wake up
    To me this is the best formation for Milan till we find solution to wings ,
    This formation will make Madrid regret the day sell Theo for Milan, he is my best player after IBRA ,at times I will ask if this guy is a defender ? Cos the way he attack
    and cause problems to our opponent
    ,the attacking midfielders don’t do the same ,he remind me wen kaka is moving forward

    Rebic. IBRA

    Theo kesiee tonali. .benacer salem

    Romagnoli. Kjer. Tomori

    And can be change to 3 4 3 or 3 4 2 1 wen need the wingers
    I can’t wait to see this formation

  5. ‐——————–Maignan‐———————

    1. Giroud and Ibra… It means we will have only 8 players on defense, because our two young forwards won’t run back. And pushing Kesie and Bennacer forward means we’re putting too much risk on counterattacks. They are mid-backs, not attackers. I would go with one CF instead, and place Kessie and Bennacer between Theo and Calabria.

  6. —————————Ibra/Giroud————————
    ——Diaz/Leao/Hauge —— Ilicic/Saelemakers——
    ——Theo —— Kessie — Bennacer —— Calabria—

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