Monza 0-1 AC Milan: Five things we learned – temporary fix could be permanent

By Ivan Stoev -

AC Milan made the short trip to Monza on Saturday evening looking to make it three wins in a row in all competitions, and they did so with a third consecutive 1-0 victory.

Milan certainly had the better of the chances overall and were helped by an excellent defensive effort once again, while at the other end a goal from Junior Messias was enough to down a Monza side who are impressing in their first season back in the top flight and were unbeaten in 2023. Here are five things we learned…

1. Temporary fix to permanent choice?

There was a lot of criticism towards Pioli when he opted to change the formation in such a critical moment, but the three-man defence has done wonders for Milan as they’ve achieved three clean sheets in a row – including one against Spurs in the Champions League – which is not an easy job considering the opponents.

Pierre Kalulu, Fikayo Tomori and Malick Thiaw all started the game, which was a first for the trio, but they seemed to have good chemistry and left little for Monza to work with. Considering the average age of the three defenders, it means that Milan could have that department pretty much sorted for the foreseeable future.

2. Brazilian bounces back

Junior Messias did well in the attacking phase and scored his first goal since the end of October at a perfect time, to hand his team three crucial points at the moment when they were needed the most.

Messias also did well in the 3-5-2 formation, although he could have helped a bit more in the defensive phase, and Pioli will be hoping the winger gains momentum and makes a bigger difference in the upcoming weeks.

3. Another disappointment

Divock Origi got the nod over Giroud, but once again failed to do much that was useful in the attacking phase. He did have a slight involvement in the goal, but other than that he offered nothing.

The striker just can’t get in form and it must be evident by now that he isn’t a solution for Milan’s attacking department, therefore it will be interesting to see if the management continue to back him or invest in a new striker and reduce his role (or even sell him).

4. Lack of impact

Whilst Milan got all three points there were 15 or so minutes towards the end where Monza seemingly won the midfield battle and pushed forward.

It didn’t seem like Pioli’s substitutes had any impact on the proceedings when they really needed to help control the tempo of the game to see out the remaining time. Saelemaekers and Giroud were sloppy and the Frenchman didn’t really have anything to work with up front.

De Ketelaere also got a wonderful chance to double the lead from close range, but couldn’t manage to do so as he still can’t find his first goal and is becoming increasingly frustrated by that. Despite the missed chance, he didn’t look bad in the other moments and hopefully one goal really will unlock him.

5. Familiar frustrations

Brahim Diaz has shown his technique and dribbling time and time again, but has always been poor in the final third with his decision making being subpar.

That same decision making let him down once again as he found himself in very good positions but always made the wrong choice, whether or not it was to pass or to shoot.

At this point, there is no logical explanation as to why Pioli puts Diaz in front of De Ketelaere especially since the Belgian has been looking better and better despite failing to put himself on the scoresheet, but Diaz hasn’t exactly been the most clinical up front either.

Tags AC Milan Monza Milan


  1. Origi has been poor, he remains the worst signing last summer, especially with that 4 million yearly salary. I hope they can get rid of him in the summer ,he has had chances to prove himself but it is clear he doesn’t deserve to start or come on later… Plus he is very injury prone. Rebic would be better and Pioli has to reduce Origi’s game time based on merit.. what puzzled me against Monza was he didn’t need a CF (Giroud) at all in that game. Rebic & De Ketelaere were fine as the sole forwards aided by the wing backs it should have been Vranckx or Pobega instead to help the midfield which wilted even more so when Krunic was replaced.A two man midfield will need the extra midfielder in circumstances, and those last 15 mins were definitely one of them!

  2. After injuries which forces Pioli to field Thaiw it now seems like a pioli masterclass 😂,
    I just hop Krunic and Tonali get injured at same time so we can have other discovery, who knows, we may have a secret Pirlo or Gatusso on the bence the whole time.

  3. Origi offers zero. Need to offload him. Diaz is just not that good, continuously. He scored one earlier midweek and got lauded, but he is still mostly poor. CDK needs to be starting over him EVERY time so he can get more play time and get comfortable. Diaz will go back. CDK is an investment – make your investment work, Pioli.

  4. IS this guy serious? There no logical reason Pioli keeps playing Diaz over CDK??? Do you watch the games dude? How about because CDK has been objectively terrible. How about because Diaz just scored the winning goal in the Champions League while CDK missed a sitter. How about when Diaz won the Juventus game with a brilliant solo run? Not to mention Diaz is the only player that can dribble out of pressure when other teams press us, all the other players just kick the ball back to the other team as soon as it comes to them. We need a better number 10 for sure, but Diaz has had some really good moments for this team while CDK has only hurt the team every time he is in there. Diaz 100% deserves to be starting over CDK. These CDK apologists are ridiculous. Over half the season played now and he has zero goals or assists. And you want to give him the starting job…. 🤦‍♂️ Brilliant.

    1. Diaz is going back to Madrid. Essentially he is taking up precious development time for CDK & Adil. In a sum of parts Milan is the loser. All three players gives Milan nothing to cheer

      1. We’re not in a position to be making those gambles, especially not in current form. Diaz is playing well and working really hard for the team, he looks motivated and sharp and is critical for the defensive game at the moment; just suffering from the known downsides he has with decision-making. But the others aren’t ready to come in and we’re not in good enough form to let them learn on the job.

        Backing Pioli’s choices 100% on this one. The only reason for using CDK at the moment is to give Diaz a bit of rest.

    2. Agreed about Brahim. As the poster below has alluded to, I think it’s people who can get their heads out of the transfer market and are constantly planning for the next move rather than simply enjoying the moment and a player who has had some big moments (as well as awful ones when he loses the ball in our third….).

      CDK does however need to be given more game time if he’s going to reach his level. I would like to see him introduced on the 65 min mark for the remainder of the season and starting when Brahim needs a rest.

  5. Bakayoko plays solid in limited minute. Since he ain’t going somewhere, good time to introduce him, letting tonali catching his breath

  6. Yes, it’s better CDK play than Brahim Diaz. CDK showed that he is smarter than Brahim in Movements & passing. We need CDK as Trequartista.

    1. Poli keeps playing Diaz is foolish.
      1) Diaz is an average player with only 5-6 points. This is proven over 2 seasons.
      2) Diaz plays well, Madrid will activate buy back clause.
      3) With only average performance, he is not worth the $20m price tag.
      4) He takes away a starting spot that can be precious to the development of CDK & Adil.
      5) He is good at dribbling and running but terrible in final pass. Wasted chances

      1. I don’t know what “points” you’re referring to (is this a FIFA reference) but who cares about his transfer status?

        Let the club worry about that and let us focus on the football. That is after all the sport we’re supposed to be watching.

      2. We are trying to win games. Period. And right now Diaz gives us the best chance. If you want to develop young players that arent quite ready to help the team then loan them out, but Milan desperately need to finish top 4 this season and that is more important than giving playing time to some kids that aren’t ready.

  7. Pioli was forced to play Thiaw. That proves that he has succumbed to a familiar temptation, and that is to only play “proven players” when things get tough. What was obviously needed was fresh heads and different characteristics. Why CdK and Diaz always gets the nod ahead of Adli tells the same story…

  8. the lack of possession against a team like Monza due to the negative formation is pretty worrying, 1-0 but pretty lucky imo

  9. The real centre forward for us is Olivier Giroud..
    He is such an intelligent player ..Hold up play is brilliant ,strong in the air ,and his awareness as to where to be at the right time is where his class comes in ..He will score lots more goals ,but of course he needs the correct service to him ,inside the 18 yard area his is explosive ,and when the big games come up he often delivers ..This man has got lots to offer .
    Never write him off ,,he has great belief in himself and so have I ..

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