Possession without purpose and set piece woes: Observations from Milan’s draw against Roma

By Rohit Rajeev -

AC Milan took on Roma in their first home game of 2023, but they were unable to make it back to back victories to begin the new year.

In all honesty the fact Milan did not win the game is criminal given that they had a two-goal lead heading into the final five minutes of normal time after goals from Pierre Kalulu and Tommaso Pobega.

A defensive collapse in the closing stages allowed Roma to score twice from set pieces through Roger Ibanez and Tammy Abraham to steal a point that their opening 85 minutes had not warranted, leaving the Rossoneri kicking themselves.

Here are three observations from the game…

1. Possession without purpose

Cast your mind back to the World Cup in Qatar last month, and specifically when Morocco beat Spain. Luis Enrique’s side played close to 1200 passes and had a lion’s share of possession but couldn’t score a goal in 120 minutes.

Milan’s game against Roma was nearly just as frustrating. The Rossoneri had 61% possession in the game, something Mourinho has no desire to compete for, yet Milan only generated an xG of 0.85 which means the quality of the chances created was not even good enough to earn the two goals they did actually score.

This comes to a stark contrast of how Milan generated an xG of 3.86 against Salernitana but scored only two goals. What is the point of all of this possession and dominance if there are either too few chances created or they are missed?

A good example of this is below, when Brahim Diaz is leading the charge in transition and appears to have numerous different options available.

2. Set pieces

It was refreshing to see Milan’s change in approach to attacking set pieces but their defending of set pieces was abysmal like the past issues we have highlighted. The question of how Matic was left unmarked to head against Tatarusanu from point blank range is something that needs to be examined.

Milan like most modern teams use a mix of man marking and zonal marking but opposition teams seem to have found a weakness in set pieces and Milan need to address this issue urgently.

3. Roma’s mid to deep block

Like all typical Jose Mourinho teams, Roma settled into a mid-block to try and stifle the space between the lines and restrict the freedom of their midfield three.

Salernitana played a high line against Milan and did so at their peril as it presented space in behind for Leao to run into. Roma saw this, and they stayed close to their goalkeeper to try and isolate the winger, which did make him less effective bar the assist for the second goal.

Tags AC Milan Milan Roma

1 Comment

  1. Our biggest need has always been a creative midfielder that can actually pass the ball.
    We still haven’t replaced Hakan.
    No one will call Hakan a great player, but even if he was inconsistent or bad, he was/is still better than what we have after he left or before he arrived since Seedorf and Pirlo were let go.
    Proper n10 should be the biggest priority. Our midfielders are good at the defensive phase but are awful at passing.

Comments are closed

Serie A Standings

Live football scores . Current table, fixtures & results.