With the 2020-21 season fast approaching, it feels like an appropriate time to look back at the previous season and analyse what worked well for Milan and what didn’t.
StatsPerform have produced a fantastic statistical analysis of the Rossoneri’s 2019-20 campaign, highlighting some key metrics that show exactly how Stefano Pioli wanted his team to play as well as some areas that need improvement.
They start by pointing out the strength of Milan’s high press, noting that over the course of last season the Diavolo attempted 51 shots following a high turnover (winning the ball back high up the field) which was more than any other Serie A team. Napoli were next with 46.
Post-lockdown form was a big part of why Milanisti are so optimistic going into this season, and for good reason. The article points out how Milan scored more goals than any other team across the big five leagues (35) after the COVID-induced break and averaging 2.5 points per game. Only Bayern Munich (3PPG) and Real Madrid (2.8) were higher.
A big chunk of that was down to the resurgence of playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu, who after the resumption of Serie A increased number of chances he created per 90 increase from 1.9 to 3.2.
In fact, only Lionel Messi (15) was involved in more goals than Calhanoglu (14) in the big-five leagues post-lockdown. The Turkey international also became the first Milan midfielder to be directly involved (goal or assist) in at least one goal in five successive league games since Kaka in 2008.
Elliott Management have so far preferred a strategy of signing talented young players that can be developed into a world class core, and this resulted in Milan having the youngest squad in Serie A with an average age of 25 years and 84 days.
However, Simon Kjaer arrived on loan from Sevilla in January (it has since been made permanent) and the return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic also added experience, which contributed to a run that saw Milan pick up the second-most points in Serie A (45) since the start of 2020. Only Atalanta have picked up more points (47).
Ibrahimovic scored 10 goals in 18 Serie A games since his return, and generated the highest season xG across Milan’s squad (10.6) and the highest volume of shots on goal per 90 (1.4).
Since the Swede’s comeback, the Rossoneri averaged 2.1 points per game and had a win percentage of 61% in games he featured, which is a stark contrast to the 1.4 points and 40% win percentage without him.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the oldest player to score 10+ in a single Serie A campaign, at 38 years and 302 days.
— MilanData📊 (@acmilandata) August 1, 2020
The article then addresses a slight dip in form for Gianluigi Donnarumma, something which may be surprising to read for some.
Stats Perform’s xGOT model denotes how many goals the average goalkeeper would be expected to concede based on the shot location (xG) and the end goalmouth location of the shot.
Donnarumma has prevented more goals than the model would expect in three of his five seasons as Milan’s No.1 stopper, but in 2019-20 he conceded 3.3 more goals than the model expected, ranking him 16th amongst the first choice keepers across the 20 Serie A clubs.
The 21-year-old also made seven individual errors which led to either an opposition shot or goal last season, and only the former Milan and current Lecce stopper Gabriel had a higher number (10).
Donnarumma claimed just 81% of the crosses he came for cleanly too, but that is just below the league average of 83%.