MN: The three huge tactical errors that led to Milan’s defeat against Roma

By Oliver Fisher -

Stefano Pioli made several rather noticeable errors in the tactical approach he deployed during last night’s defeat to Roma, a report has highlighted.

MilanNews write that Milan did not take to the field as a team last night at the Stadil Olimpico in their comeback mission, but rather as 11 individuals who just hoped to create something out of nothing.

There are three situations that in their opinion are most indicative of the shortcomings of the side and they certainly connected to each other. They help to explain what went wrong over the two legs, and what wasn’t fixed.

Musah and Calabria

The big team news of the evening was the use of Yunus Musah from the start, with the American taking the place of Tijjani Reijnders in the midfield double pivot, at least on paper.

De Rossi immediately understood Pioli’s idea, as he revealed just before kick-off: “Today they changed a little something, we expect Musah on the right wing in some circumstances. But we’ll see it now, it’s nice to discover my colleague’s moves.”

No sooner said than done. The American acted mostly on the side area of ​​the pitch and the aim was to pin Spinazzola back and at the same time, also thanks to Davide Calabria’s central position, free Christian Pulisic who at that point would have been without a man following him.

Pioli chose to ‘sacrifice’ the full-back to create superiority in the right half-space, ideally occupied by Pulisic. It was a risky move, but it did have some obvious potential rewards.

What actually happened? Calabria found himself struggling to get involved and to move the ball quickly when he did get in possession, which meant little impact on Spinazzola and thus Pulisic was out of the game.

The left side

Roma’s first goal was closely linked to the situation just explained. The Giallorossi came through the middle of the park, Mancini picked up the ball while being watch by Calabria who was actually in a midfield position, and Musah went wide to track Spinazzola.

The right-back drew Musah and Calabria closer before finding Mancini with a lob, who in turn identified the space left by Calabria and put himself forward. Loftus-Cheek didn’t follow him and here the Rossoneri begin to lose their shape.

Mancini stopped and found Spinazzola, who in the meantime had advanced wide to the left. The full-back, tackled by Musah – who therefore was still positioning himself wide – crossed. The cross was cleared by Calabria, who in the meantime has repositioned himself in the area alongside Tomori.


Mancini easily got rid of Pulisic and found himself in possession while looking at the goal in an advanced but decentralised position. With a simple check, Loftus-Cheek and Musah were also taken out of the game.

Bennacer was left alone and Mancini targeted the Algerian, then finding Pellegrini who in the meantime has managed to break away from the centre-back’s marking by reaching the edge of the area.

Ideally there should have been Loftus-Cheek or Musah there, but there was a void. Giroud tried to pressure but it was too late: Pellegrini shot beautifully and hit the post. On the rebound Calabria and Bennacer did not react and Mancini scored without much opposition.

Pressing fails

Milan are no longer able to apply effective pressure, and this was also repeated in the second goal conceded. If on the first goal Musah and Loftus-Cheek went to Mancini without thinking about what was left behind, on the second goal the opposite happened.

The players are no longer able to recognise the situations in which it is right to press. The move for the Giallorossi’s secong goal began with a recovery of the ball by Pellegrini from Pulisic in midfield and a subsequent pass to Svilar to restart the build-up.

Milan were positioned in a strange way: there was Giroud who pressed alone, with Pulisic who attempted to follow him. Behind them? Nothing.

Although the line of Gabbia and Tomori was almost halfway up the field, there was nobody to back up the pressure from Milan’s No.9. Svilar then served Pellegrini who dropped into space, so Calabria left the defensive line, undecided whether to continue the pressure up to that area of ​​the pitch or not.

Musah went, Pellegrini was therefore alone, and neither Loftus-Cheek (who was watching Paredes) nor Bennacer (who was on Bove) understand that that was the moment to go out to at least try to challenge the opponent.

How were the defenders positioned? Calabria wasn’t there (still in the middle of the field), Tomori had been drawn to the right to watch Dybala, Theo was ready to contain El Shaarawy and Gabbia was therefore left in a one-on-one situation with Lukaku 50 metres from the goal.

Pellegrini sent the ball in behind and Lukaku bumped Gabbia off the ball, and then the centre-back’s poor clearance ends with Dybala whipping in a lovely curling shot to make it 2-0.

It is useless to talk about subsequent errors, such as Theo’s missed slide or Gabbia’s bad clearance, when the greater evil is at the source. Milan chose and continue to choose to adopt an over-aggressive approach at the wrong moments, and a weak one at the worst times too.

Tags AC Milan Roma Milan


  1. “Milan are no longer able to apply effective pressure”….

    This is the same Milan that this website was raving about a few weeks ago after 7 back to back wins?

    It’s not ‘no longer’, it’s ‘in this game’, or even ‘in that split second moment’.

    But don’t worry I am sure when we sack the manager and sign 10 players this summer those split second moments will go our way.

    I mean it’s not like Mancini and Pellgrini haven’t been playing together for 4 years.

    What do you learn about a person after 4 years.

    1. You comment makes no sense.. tomori, theo, leao and benacer have also been playing together for years… ah but they didn’t play well last night, did they?
      just cherry picking random stuff again, aren’t you. No proper argument to sustain your rants

        1. What does musah have to do with tomori, theo, leao and benacer playing together for years?

          Also if you wanna go into it. Parades and lukaku were brought to roma last summer.

          Tonali this, Tonali that. Tonali wouldn’t have been playing anyway, if he wasn’t sold. Because he’s a suspended gambler

          1. Mancini’s goal…..

            If we knew Tonali had a gambling problem then we have a problem. At the time he was sold we randomly decided to sell one of our most important player and then blew the money signing 3 replacements.

          2. @ flyingturtle

            The random part was selling Tonali, a player who was supposed to be part of the long term project.

            I suppose it was also pretty random signing 3 x box to box midfielders.

            And finally why did we need to touch the midfield after the midfield had got us to the semi-finals of the Champions League (no less) AND we needed to sign a world class striker to replace an ageing Giroud?

        2. You always while about transfers, which are a perfectly normal thing in football. Inter sold 12 players and lost 7 on free. And they bought 7 players and singed 5 on free. + 3 on loan.

          We sold 1 and loaned 3 one of those was bought already (mesias). And lost 2 on free.. bought 7 players and 3 on free

          1. I am not sure those Inter numbers are correct especially if you’re including Acerbi in that…

            Inter’s line up is pretty settled.

            Plus some of the transfers are more impactful.

            Tonali was a massive loss in midfield. We ripped out our soul. And then we decided to also alienate Krunic.

            As someone else pointed out we’re down to 1 of our former Scudetto winning midfielders (who has been injured most of the season).

            But hey I’ve been very positive recently about last summer’s transfers because the team has done better than I expected.

            Maybe the issue is that other fans got too excited about the transfers and are now disappointed?

    2. “This is the same Milan that this website was raving about a few weeks ago after 7 back to back wins?”

      So… You’re saying that if a team uses the same players, same tactics, same everything, the outcome of every match will be the same. As if the opponent has NOTHING to say about the matter.


  2. Said if before. Watching pioli tactics is like watching a special boi trying to put a square block into the round opening.

    1. Except there is no block, there is no opening, there is just special bald old dude drooling all over himself while he stares at Milan captain who is trying to figure out which side of the ball he is supposed to klck.

  3. “Ideally there should have been Loftus-Cheek or Musah there, but there was a void”
    Story of our midfield this year….”there was void”

    The other tactic not directly mentioned is the very specific spaces ElSha and Pellegrini / even Bove at times occupied on our left flank. It was just past the halfway line is where they start to actively press. If the ball was already passed by Theo from deep, ElSha/P/B. moved toward a central position with whoever the deeper midfielder was to double along with Celik; otherwise they pressed Theo near the halfway line. It was fascinating to watch.
    The timing and position had to be right..and they did not press until our guys occupied very specific spades. I believe the position was where Theo typically starts his powerful runs so by eliminating that ignition if you will, it nullifies his presence, leaving Leao alot to do and always 1v2 or more.

  4. All of this could have been properly accomplished by playing 3-4-3, employing three CBs (Tomori-Gabbia-Thiaw) and two CMs where they naturally play, with Theo and Florenzi forming the outside of the middle 4. That way nobody is out of position and in defense we could either be in 4-3-3 (with Thiaw maybe then being out of position at RB, but damage limited by being on the flank (all he has to do is stay with his man) and if Kalulu had been available he would have been perfect for this) or 5-2-3, with both fullbacks dropping down. Instead we have Musah again playing some weird kind of right midfield role, Calabria cutting in to central midfield and all sorts of chaos.

  5. All of this because ACM dont have DMF and mister pioli want to depend on krunic as DMF for whole season. Clown tactic , sacrifice RB just for pulisic move free while you can use chukwu to beat spina and puli replace RLC as starter. What RLC doing on helping defense ? Nothing . Chukwu can beat spina , he have speed & drible . Double pivot should be tiji not bennacer, he is our best midfield for this season. And Theo & Leao both are looking tired because mister pioli using them in that useless match vs sassoulo ( better use okafor & jimenez as LW & LB )

  6. Outwitted, not once but twice, by a rookie coach. The second time is more embarrassing cos Milan is playing 11 vs 10 for more than an hour. Let’s see how Pioli fare in the coming derby. Inzaghi is known for always playing his quick counter tactics and nothing fancy. Hopefully Pioli has finally ‘learned’ how to overcome Inzaghi’s tactics after losing the last 5 duels … anyways this is probably his last chance being schooled by Inzaghi in a Derby della Madonnina.

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