Monza 4-2 AC Milan: Five things we learned – anger, drama and encouragement

By Ivan Stoev -

AC Milan have enjoyed a good run of form in the league since the turn of the year and were presented with a great opportunity to grab second spot after Juventus dropped points to Hellas Verona, but they fell to defeat against Monza.

Stefano Pioli’s men found themselves two goals down at the break after several individual mistakes, and they were a man down by the 52nd minute with Luka Jovic receiving a red card for lashing out at Armando Izzo

Despite the setbacks, the Rossoneri did manage to halve the deficit through Olivier Giroud and even equalised in the 88th minute through Christian Pulisic.

However, Warren Bondo and Milan loanee Lorenzo Colombo scored in added time to seal Monza’s first ever win against their Lombardy neighbours.

Here are five things we learned from a dramatic yet disappointing encounter…

1. Way off the pace

Malick Thiaw was injured for nearly three momths and was thrown into action from the start against Monza which proved costly in the end with the centre-back making two extremely sloppy tackles in the space of a few seconds which resulted in a penalty.

In the sixth minute of added time in the first half, Thiaw was again under the spotlight after he was beaten with ease by Andrea Colpani as he pushed out of position to help Ismael Bennacer but failed to get the ball.

Then, also failed to block Danny Mota’s shot as it got deflected by his foot and went into the back of the net which was rather unlucky, but also a result of the poor positioning and decision making a few moments earlier.

It’s fair to say that that was probably the worst game of his Milan career. It wasn’t so much a physical fitness problem but more the mental side of things, and that is something which should snap back into place with game time.

2. Making a statement the wrong way

Thiaw was on his way to comfortably securing the title of flop of the game for Milan regardless of the result, but Jovic somehow managed to top him as he was sent off in the early minutes of the second half.

He reacted aggressively to a provocation by Izzo after the pair had come together and been warned by the referee moments earlier.

He got a shove from he experienced Italian and threw his hands towards his face. The contact may have only been a scrape, but VAR intervened and the referee had no choice.

That made things even more difficult for his team, but it’s just a pity that the Serbian couldn’t keep his composure because he hasn’t managed to make the most out of the chances Pioli has given him from the start and now he will likely serve a multi-game ban.

3. Outthought and outfought

Whilst individual mistakes were costly for Milan and the outcome of the game it’s also fair to say that Monza were compact and disciplined on the pitch, taking their chances well.

With that being said credit has to go towards their coach Raffael Palladino, who instructed his players well as they soaked up the pressure Milan tried to put on them early on and played fast and direct on the counter.

It is a style which has been a problem for Milan for a while now and a reason why the team has done so poorly against opponents in the bottom half of the table whilst playing much better against teams in the top half that play a more attacking football.

Interestingly, Palladino actually spoke in his press conference after the game about how he watched Milan’s 3-0 win over Rennes and that gave him the conviction he needed to play a 4-2-3-1 rather than a 3-4-2-1, implying he felt more comfortable matching up with the opponents.

4. To the rescue (almost)

Despite the delicate situation in which Milan was they did manage to get a goal back in the 64th minute through Giroud after a flick from Pulisic that got the ball in the Frenchman’s reach.

That gave them plenty of time to find another goal and salvage the situation and in the 88th minute that moment came, when Pulisic showed some individual quality to beat his man by cutting inside onto his left foot and lashing a rocket into the far corner.

The happiness was short-lived with Bondo’s goal winning the game just two minutes later, but Pulisic and Giroud did well to get their team back in the game and we finally saw that killer instinct from the American who has been struggling a bit recently in terms of his production.

If not anything else, Pioli will hope that the goal will give Pulisic a nice morale boost, whilst Giroud hit 20 goal contributions in the league for his team, though he didn’t give much away before the game about his future.

5. Chances not taken

Similar to Jovic, Noah Okafor and Samuel Chukwueze were given a big chance from minute one to show that they deserve more regular starts and yet they showed little to nothing that was positive.

Okafor has had some good moments off the bench, scoring three goals in fact, but failed to help his side against Monza as he delivered a pretty anonymous performance on the left side.

The Nigerian meanwhile has barely had a good game in Serie A (both his goals came in Europe) and you would expect more from the most expensive signing of the summer transfer window.

The third disappointment is not Jovic – who we mentioned in a separate point – but rather Rafael Leao who had a wonderful game in the Europa League against Rennes and got the goal he was craving, which we hoped would help him regain a bit of confidence.

In spite of this, against Monza the Portuguese didn’t get on the ball that much and didn’t create any dangerous chances when he did. Pioli admitted after the game that he felt a calf problem and that’s why he didn’t start, which makes his 45-minute cameo even more bizarre.


Tags AC Milan Monza Milan


  1. I don’t know why everybody shouts Pioli out. Leap, pulisic, reijnders needed a break. Thiaw had a full week of training. Jovic had a good run of decisive goals for us. The line up was only logical, yet no expert could have expected that the B-Team players will disappoint so much. It’s not piolis fault if chukuweze suddenly can’t win a 1v1. Adli makes four error passes in a row. Jovic slaps his opponent, come on guys

  2. I think it’s pretty clear that the culprits were Thiaw, Jovic, and Pioli’s heavy rotation. I’m disappointed but not too much. This team have proved time and time again that they don’t have what it takes to win the Scudetto so finishing second or third makes no difference to me.
    Despite improvements in certain areas, the team lacks proper balance and structure. I put it down to poor planning. We signed based on a 433 but switched back to a 4231. Reijnders was supposed to be an attacking midfielder but moved to a deeper role in order to function well. RLC has gone from a box to box midfielder to essentially a second striker. Bennacer and Musah still don’t seem to have a clear role. We sold the only defensive midfielder in our squad who, despite a few poor games, was not worse than most of the players during our tough period. Okafor was supposed to compete with Giroud, not become a utility player for the front line. Chuk seems to be a scouting bust. He needs a lot of work.

    1. Totally agree with everything you have said.
      Except I don’t think Chuk was actually that bad in this game. He was involved a lot in the first half. Did some decent runs. Got to the byline and did a nice cut back that lead to blocked shot by Jovic and subsequent volley by another player got hit off target.
      Generally he has not impressed much over the season though.
      Okafor whilst he was disappointing in the first half. When I rewatched the game I noticed that he continually received bad passes when he was in good positions. Particularly by Theo who otherwise had a decent game and Adli who we all saw had a bad game. Theo seems to struggle to adjust when he is not interacting with Leao.

      I would like to have seen one of them at least get to the 60th minute to get another chance to show what they can do. I.e. only bring on Reijnders & Pulisic at half time.

      Now we still need some level of rotation against Renne and all of Okafor, Chuck & Jovic are low on confidence.
      Thanks Pioli!

      1. You seem really fixated on what was Krunic during the 21/22 and the 22/23 season. The truth is, this season, having Krunic as a CDM simply didn’t work.
        This season he was first the sole DM in the 4-3-3 which we eventually ditched then we came back to a 4-2-3-1, he was employed again as a DM. His performances were still subpar, and eventually Pioli was more convinced by Adli.
        In the 21/22 season, Krunic was mainly an AM, supported by both Tonali and Kessie.

        1. Didn’t he play DM during our run at the start of the season when were top of the league and sitting comfortably in the champions league group (with him swinging in some cracking corners against Newcastle).

          What specific mistake did he make?

          I’ve seen people blame him for the Juve goal when our former player who we gifted to Juve hit a shot that deflected off him. Those same people don’t seem to think Adli was at fault for giving away an actual penalty. Heck those same people give Thiaw the benefit of the doubt and just an anyone else who has been at the club for for 5 mins and hasn’t won anything.

          So what specifically did Krunic do wrong?

          We need to be careful about received wisdom here. People talk about Krunic, even his defenders, like they did about the EU before Brexit – “despite its many faults…. ”.

          Please specify a specific fault?

          1. There is not necessarly always a flashy fault (à la Adli or à la Thiaw).
            Performing well in a given position is not about not commiting a X number of faults per game.
            So what specifically did Krunic do wrong? I’ll have the question the other way around. What did he (during this season alone) did do to justify his starting position ?
            He was a CDM, yet our midfield still leaked many opportunities to the opposition which lead to goals being scored against us. During the construction phase, his passes were very shy, and lacked the accuracy and constructivness compared to his teammates. He also doesn’t have the physical attributes you’d generally want in a CDM (strength, pace,…).
            Now here the blame is not on Krunic, but on Pioli was thought that he will be able to function as such and didn’t allow us to pursue a true CDM during the summer.

        2. I agree with mostly what you’re trying to say Giga but when Maldini’s Heir asked what exactly was Krunic’s fault your response is about lacking. And I’m yet to see a really strong argument other than he wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea ie his style is what people didn’t like so they attributed things into him that never was true. For instance, you said his pass accuracy was lacking. How could it be when he’s the most accurate midfield passer we had this season and the third best overall in the team after Tomori and Thiaw who are expected to have high pass rates as centre backs? Granted YES his passes were “shy” I will give you that but they were accurate. “He was a CDM, yet our midfield still leaked many opportunities to the opposition which lead to goals being scored against us” . This is also not the complete story. When we played the 433 he got little to no help from Deers and RLC who were only concerned with attacking leaving him isolated. When he got injured and out of favour with Pioli, coach realized any other player playing that sole DM in a 433 wasn’t going to work eg Adli would not cut it defensively hence why we reverted back to the 4231. To have more numbers in front of defence…..and we’re still getting it wrong. He has very few errors to his name, that’s how he plays. You give up style for safety, hoping the style comes from the mezzalas who were both new and we’re taking time to gel. A DM doesn’t need pace as evidenced of one of the best DMs in a generation in Busquets. Krunic became a scapegoat for many things including a failed summer transfer where a DM was needed but never arrived even though we were spending 20m+ on a sub, and tactical changes by the coach who was in over his head with changing to a whole new system with personnel he didn’t have.

          1. I guess I have to elaborate on few points:
            – “For instance, you said his pass accuracy was lacking. How could it be when he’s the most accurate midfield passer we had this season and the third best overall in the team after Tomori and Thiaw who are expected to have high pass rates as centre backs? Granted YES his passes were “shy” I will give you that but they were accurate.” I guess it was a bad phrasing from me but to put in in another way, it’s easier to be more accurate when playing safe passes that don’t help in the construction phase. Passes to the defenders or laterally or that slows the game can make him more accurate but not more helpful. Stats don’t tell the whole story, for example in 2009 or 2011 I think, Messi was one of the least accurate passers in Barcelone (with a 87% however), yet anyone who watches the game or plays the game will be terrified from Messi’s passes. Back to Krunic, I think it became clear that Adli, Reijnders and of course Bennacer are better passers than him.
            – On the CDM thing, sure, the midfield’s problem is not his problem alone (heck it’s still a problem) and the other players not helping him is a part of the problem. But overall this role was not the best role for him. You have a point about Busquets not having pace (guess I should have noted that not so much pace is required for a CDM) but he was a part of a different system and succeed well under outstanding coaching. In his later years however, and under different coaching and systems, Busquets’ lack of physicality became a bit of a liability. I still maintain that Krunic functions better as an AM or even a CM, against certain oppositions.
            For the rest, I agree that he, unfortunately became a scapegoat for mistakes that wasn’t his. He is a player willing to play everywhere, it’s not his fault Pioli decided to go for a 4-3-3 and not to purchase a CDM. I was in favour of his departure, because he wanted to leave and I thaught it was better to get money out of him and to purchase a defensive midfielder this winter. the later didn’t happen and the win streak we had against average teams made it look like what we had was enough.

      2. The match against Monza was an eye opener for the wise, in the case of Jovic and Okafor, Pioli is guilty of not giving them enough playing time, Chukwueze will eventually turn out to be a flop, a better assessment should have been made of Thaiw’s fitness, I honestly feel RLC should be used as a defensive midfielder, then have Aldi, Bennacer or Reinders on his left and right, our clear lack of defensive cover in the midfield showed, the team with RLC as the attacking midfielder is very imbalanced.
        What the club needs to understand is the attack needs to be upgraded with the players we have on loan, look at CDK and Colombo even Maldini and Lazetic, young players need confidence, give them that and you will see results, the midfield needs investing, get a central defender, and a backup keeper and we are set, Simic can be converted to a right back, on the left Barthesagi and Pellegrino can also be left backs, another shopping spree is not needed, then get rid of Pioli….that is fundamental…

  3. “The most difficult thing is to play simple football. Thiago Motta doesn’t explain football. He does it,” the ex-Milan and Juventus coach wrote in an article published by La Gazzetta dello Sport.
    He was a practical and efficient midfielder and he’s the same on the bench. I like Bologna’s personality, but behind their results, there is a clear tactical idea.
    “The ball possession is not sterile but is used to go forward. Bologna players are not controlled as they were in a video game. Thiago Motta wants his players to have courage in all areas of the pitch and they take responsibility. It’s exactly what he used to do when he was in the middle of the pitch.
    Being a former midfielder does not guarantee success, but it often helps. Think about Pep Guardiola or Xabi Alonso. Thiago grew up at Barcelona, and the Spanish influence is evident in his playing style. The La Liga influence is dominant everywhere except here,” continued Capello.
    Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool) is followed by Mikel Arteta (Arsenal), Pep Guardiola (Manchester City) and Unai Emery (Aston Villa) in the Premier League. In Germany, Xabi Alonso (Bayer Leverkusen) is the runaway leader. In France, there is Luis Enrique (Paris Saint-Germain), while Carlo Ancelotti (Real Madrid) is ahead of everyone else in Spain.
    Motta was coached by Ancelotti, but also Mourinho (Inter) and Gasperini (Genoa). He has taken something from all his teachers and re-elaborated it. From Ancelotti’s philosophy to Gasp’s desire to dominate. And his management is reminiscent of Mourinho.
    “Thiago played for top clubs, Barcelona, the Inter side that won the treble and PSG, so he already knows this aspect. For all these reasons, I am convinced he is ready for a further step. I don’t know the future, but the top Italian or European clubs that will pick him won’t be wrong.”

    Capello thinks that Motta is ready for a big club like Milan but Pioli fans think he is not because he doesn’t have 20+ year career of being a loser like Pioli.
    BTW, Thiago’s Bologna is only 7 points behind Milan with inferior squad. 3rd best defense in the league.
    Kick Pioli out , bring Motta in. Whoever at the club wants to still keep Pioli should also be fired.

      1. Keep laughing Rossi, because Pioli has more games up his sleeve at Casa Milan this season.
        Think Z talks a lot of the truth and Motta is the answer for Milan just like the great Capello states. Pioli at other clubs did nothing eg: Inter?
        Maldini was going to sack him last season end!
        Say no more ! What about failing CDK, he had to go to Atalanta to shine but under Pioli nothing WHY?

  4. A few things we learned.
    1) Thiaw has an extremely low IQ and cannot be trusted. Milan should sell immediately.
    2) We learned why Jovic can’t stick around at any club. He has played well so far as a sub, but finally gets a chance to start and this is how he reacts..
    3) Pulisic and Giroud showed what Champions look like, never giving up and bringing this team back even down a man. More players like this please.
    4) Maignan has become quite an average goalkeeper this season and that is putting it nicely. Continuously getting beat to his near post. Considering that and all of his injuries, probably not worth what he is asking for.
    5) Everything is Pioli’s fault. Player loses his mind and starts fouling everyone in sight…Pioli’s fault.
    Player slaps another player in the face and gets a red…Pioli’s fault.

    1. Changing half the first team line up is certainly Pioli’s fault.

      We can’t judge any of the players based on that performance especially the ones who were thrown together for the first time in first half and hauled off at half time.

      It’s shocking man management by Pioli, and defeated the whole point of rotation because he was then forced to bring on his star players who had to work extra hard to get back in the game.

      1. Agree. 5-6 “new players” on the pitch. New players as they haven’t played that much and replacing half of the starting 11 WILL affect the team performance. If that comes as a surprise to anyone, that tells quite a lot about the person’s understanding for the game (or any team sports).

      2. Giroud is 37, has been playing every single game and just played the full 90 3 days earlier.
        Pulisic has been playing every game with Chuku away and has a history of injury problems.
        Kjaer is old and has been playing every game and was questionable all week with muscle fatigue.
        Leao picked up a knock at the end of the previous game and was not 100 %.
        Every one of those moves is justified. And the fact is Milan was in complete control of the game until Thiaw lost his mind and ruined the game. Monza had done nothing up until that point. And Jovic sealed it with his selfish act.
        It’s funny how a lot of the same people who were complaining that Pioli doesn’t give anyone chances, and he needs to play Okafor, Jovic and Chuku more are now killing him for it.

  5. Okofor was only €14 million. He’s a utility player.

    Chukwueze should never have been signed for such an inflated fee. He has zero pedigree, no history of great performances at international level or in the UEFA competitions. La Liga is a weak championship, full of mediocre players (outside the top 3). He’s also nearly 25, at that age he should be the finished article. He’s one of the flops of the season and no, I don’t think he’s going to leave and do a CDK, at least with CDK he was much younger and showed flashes of brilliance.

  6. Nah all Pioli’s fault, thats the only analysis that teenagers who claim to be supporting for 20 years understand

    Sack Pioli and Milan wins treble every year and wont lose a league game ever

    1. This result falls squarely within Pioli’s responsibility because he changed half the first team.

      This cost us multiple times last season and he still hadn’t learnt.

    2. This result was mostly Pioli’s fault because he changed half the first team.

      This cost us multiple times last season and he still hadn’t learnt.

  7. The ideal squad should be a core of 18 or so players.

    11 starters, 1 FB who can cover both sides, 1 CB who can cover for both, 1 CM who can cover for both or 3 or whatever, and some variables in attack – AM, a winger covering both sides and a super sub strikers.

    This is what the great sides were and are built around:

    – Stones plays multiple positions for Man City
    – Barca used to rotate Iniesta with attacking midfielders and the front three;
    – Chelsea rotated Duff, Cole and Robben,
    – Juve rotated Marchisio, Pirlo, Vidal and Pogba;
    – Juve rotated Caceres and the BBC;
    – Arsenal rotated Wiltord, Pires and Ljunberg;
    – Milan rotated Ambrosini. Pirlo, Gattuso and Seedorf;
    – Serginho covered LB, LM and striker;
    – Man Utd used Phil Neville to cover both full backs, Butt to cover both midfielders, and had the front four of Cole, Yorke, Sheringham and Solskaer, all of whom could play together which won Man Utd the champions league; and
    – Milan used Panucci as cover for both full backs and Maldini as cover for CBs.

    This is how you build a tight, robotic, seamless, winning squad that can compete in multiple fronts.

  8. Saying Thiaw is rusty due to long lay off is lame excuse. That was a rookie tackle, something out of a FIFA game. And he did it in span of 4 seconds on two players. You didn’t hesitate to murder Terracciano the other day for a pull on his first official match.

    Chuk never showed even a glimpse of brilliance and he’s about to hit prime age of 25. A poor one trick pony. Sure Leao needed two seasons to hit the ground but he had flashes of brilliance and showed he had talent to do better even when he underperformed.

    And for the millionth time – this midfield is poorly constructed, completely out of balance and average at most. It’s sad we start to have goal galore once Pioli reverts to 5-0-5 excluding the midfield. That’s how poorly it’s constructed and managed.

    1. There’s no point rating players based on these performances.

      The exact same players could perform completely differently in a different situation e.g. not being thrown into a revamped side against an elite opposition.

      This is elite sport. The players who have reached this level are elite athletes. You don’t treat elite athletes in an elite sport against elite opposition in this manner.

      1. I am writing generally not specifically for this match. As I wrote in other article, from 110 million spent only Pulisic, RLC and Okafor performed.

        Chuk never showed anything special to make me say “ok there’s something in him he just needs time”. For example Okafor did. His statistics are quite good considering the minutes he played and most of his cameos came from the bench. There’s something in him if only he’d stay injury free.

        Reijnders also, he has moves like Jagger but that’s it. No contribution. Musah on the other hand, just needs to have clear role and he’ll perform. I see him as new Kante but he’d need proper guidance.

        1. We still have no idea about their abilities.

          All we know is how they’ve played/not played under Pioli in this specific system/this specific season/in this specific form/with this confidence/with these specific team mates/on these days of the week.

          Things could change tomorrow.

          Look at Napoli.

          Look at the thousands of players we’ve been through in the past 15 years including the squad of former players who are currently playing for our direct rivals.

          3 at inter
          2 at juve
          2 at Atalanta
          1 at Bologna
          2 at Roma
          1 at Fiorentina
          1 at Lazio
          3 at Torino
          3 at Monza

          18 former players playing in the top 11 teams in Serie A.

          You want to add more?

          Just because we write off players after a few games?

          And then replace them with more and repeat the process?

          This is exactly what I predicted this summer. The fans would turn on the new signings like they did on the players who left. It’s been going on for 15 years and we’ve been threading water except for that scudetto win.

          We then pressed the reset button less than a year later.

  9. The fact that so many people on here are writing off the first halfers (my term for the players who never play and then were given 45 minutes before being hauled off at half time) based on their first half performances shows that the fans and the media suffer from the same hubris and magical thinking as Pioli which cost us the game.

    Pioli rested/rotated half the first team and expected the half timers to perform at the exact same level because he assumed that the half timers and Milan generally are of such superior quality that the result against Monza was all but guaranteed.

    All of this is predicated on the basis that real life football players are like computer game footballers with specific ratings and the team with the best ratings generally wins (unless the computer decides not!).

    But about 90% of the thing that distinguishes the top level footballers is mental strength and anything that is done to weaken or undermine that mental strength will make a huge difference.

    That is why Napoli have gone from dominant 1st to struggling 9th in a few months.

    It’s one thing random fans and the media not getting this but it is quite concerning that Pioli doesn’t get this.

    He actually believes last season’s half timers were just not up to job so we needed a load of new half timers who could just magically perform.

    If that is the case then he really does need to move on. Because for as long as he is in charge we will continually to struggle with half timers.

  10. People are going to blame the rotation but weren’t we supposed to have all this amazing depth now with our moneyball summer signings?

    1. No because you can’t rotate that many players at once against one of the top 100 clubs on the planet/the top 11 club in Serie A.

      If anything the stupid summer signings gave Pioli too many choices.

  11. Funny thing is Roma also rotated heavily but they won handily while Lazio didn’t and lost. It’s how football is sometimes. However, Roma did it against the worst defence in the league and a team lacking in goals. Monza always play us tough and have a better defensive record than us right now. Timing, quality/form and quantity of rotation did us in. Hopefully we get it right next time

  12. Yes rotate by all means ,but not half the team .
    This was a huge mistake…
    I understand giving players opportunities ,,but at the correct time …when pulisic was brought on we looked as if we could claw a goal back ,,,even with the 10 men .indeed we did …but then I think fatigue and concentration went at the end …
    We never ever really controlled the game ..
    Olivier Giroud has had his critics,but just look at his Stats 12 goals 8 assists ,,,that’s not bad for 37 years of age …I just hope he does decide to Stay another season ,,.yes even if we get a new striker.

Comments are closed

Serie A Standings

Live football scores . Current table, fixtures & results.