Rennes 3-2 AC Milan (3-5 agg): Five things we learned – calm turns into chaos

By Ivan Stoev -

After a comfortable 3-0 win at home, AC Milan traveled to Rennes to try finish off the job and qualify for the round of 16 of the Europa League.

It seemed obvious that Rennes – who remain in excellent form – would attack from the off and it only took the hosts 11 minutes to open up the scoring and start dreaming of a huge comeback as Bourigeaud netted, but not long after Luka Jovic levelled with a header.

The Rouge et Noir showed kept the pressure up and they retook the lead in the 54th minute through a penalty kick converted by Bourigeaud, but again the Rossoneri struck back quickly through Rafael Leao’s solo goal.

There was plenty of drama left though, with yet another penalty awarded to Rennes in the 68th minute that was again netted by Bourigeaud who got his hat-trick, though that was as close as they came to any late scare.

Slavia Praha await in the next round, and here are five things we observed during the game…

1. The perfect response

Luka Jovic acted foolishly at the weekend and will have to serve a two-game ban because of his actions after he got sent off against Monza, but was given the chance from the start against Rennes and he did respond positively.

Jovic got a goal to bring his team level and it came at a delicate moment early in the game when things could have got out of hand. He probably could have added another goal or an assist to his name but in truth Milan were wasteful in the final third.

The Serb continues to show great movement in the box but has somewhat struggled when he needs to drop deeper and involve himself in the game a bit more. Nevertheless, a good game overall by Jovic who hasn’t quite fully made up for the Monza game but at least responded.

2. When will it end?

We can argue that those two penalty kicks were very very harsh, which is a different topic on its own, but the fact of the matter is that Milan have been struggling at the back for quite a while now and it’s not just the game against Rennes that exposed cracks.

On the first penalty kick, it was clumsy from Simon Kjaer to try make that challenge even despite the questionable decision and Milan also allowed an early goal that gave their opponents a big boost.

Admittedly the whole back line are not to blame nor did anyone really have a horror show, and the midfield in front of them was not on the needed level to stop the opposition and it is matches where control is needed that Yunus Musah, Ismael Bennacer and others show limitations.

Whether it’s poor defending or lack of intelligence in the middle, Milan always seem to struggle in the defensive phase and it’s something Pioli needs to address fast if he wants to increase his team’s chance of going all the way in the Europa League.

3. More expected

Rafael Leao was in truth saved by his brilliant individual goal, but he missed the easy chances throughout the game that could’ve sealed progress far earlier in the match, saving Milan some of the stress and energy.

This performance is almost symbolic of Leao’s current season as he has been continuously delivering mixed performances. Where you’d expect him to bury what looks like an easy chance and he fails, he will then succeed with the next opportunity by doing a more difficult thing.

On the other hand, it wasn’t just his shooting that was frustrating in Brittany as he also struggled to beat his man in isolation and create chances as he’s done in recent weeks.

4. Lack of impact

It’s hard to recall who came off the bench for Milan because none of those players had any impact on the game.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek brought some strength onto the pitch, but never really managed to use it going forward barring one carry of the ball.

Samuel Chukwueze and Noah Okafor, on the other hand, continued their disappointing nights in Monza as they had zero impact on the game and they are not doing themselves favours in terms of knocking on the door for a starting spot.

Pioli has tried to rotate a bit in recent games, but the players have let him down it must be said as there have been numerous individual errors that have cost Milan goals or points.

5. Questionable management

Speaking of rotation, Pioli has drawn criticism for his selection in the last two games. The coach rotated heavily against Monza where a win would have sent his team to second place, making six changes, and then he fielded a stronger side in the game where his side had a three-goal lead.

Given the eventual scoreline, it probably looks wise that he fielded close to a full strength line-up, but his overall approach and the tactics against the French side just didn’t feel right as Milan never really took control of the game.

Some players have committed a lot of individual errors in the last couple of games, but it’s also fair to say that Pioli’s tactics don’t seem to be working either. Simply put, there Rossoneri possess zero ability to take the sting out of games and it will cost them fatally against better opposition.


Tags AC Milan Rennes Milan


  1. Beppe #Marotta talks about how winning teams are built:
    “In 2019, as soon as I arrived at #Inter I sacrificed a figure like that of Luciano #Spalletti, who I consider to be a good coach, but who was part of the present and the past.
    The culture that existed was not a winning one, and I sacrificed a coach like him to get to #Conte, who I knew well and who led us to win
    the Scudetto in the second year. ”
    … part of the present and the past.
    ….the culture that existed was not a winning one.
    Does that remind us of someone else, but at Milan?
    All time worst defensive effort.
    One of the most undisciplined teams in all of Europe.
    High rate of muscle injuries.
    Your biggest rival owning you.
    So called best players on the team not only are not improving but actually regressing.
    Underperforming players not held accountable.
    In how many games, no matter if Milan plays vs Inter or vs. Salernitana, at home or on the road, any fans go in and feel confident that Milan will win?
    Does that sound like a winning culture?
    Marotta fired a much more established coach than Pioli to change the loser culture of the team.
    Also, even Spalletti himself knew that we have seen the best of him at Napoli and he walked away on a high note.
    We have seen the best of Pioli at Milan and only will get worse if he lingers around.
    A better team would have knocked out Milan yesterday.
    Even fans standards have dropped low. Many use the soft penalties (they were clear penalties) yesterday as an excuse that Milan wasn’t that bad. Over the last few years Milan has benefited on many occasions in same penalty situations. No one complained about soft penalties when they go in Milan favor.
    Don’t care about Conte the person but he is without doubt a winner, especially in Italy. He won’t stay long but he will create the culture that will then carried over to the next coach.
    BTW Motta’s Bologna, currently on the live table is only 4 points behind Milan and 6 away from 2nd spot. Look at the quality of his squad compared to Milan’s or Juventus and tell me Pioli isn’t the problem and you want him to still coach your team next season. Not only they get results but his team actually plays very good team football, offensively and defensively. He doesn’t rely on an individuals like Pioli. And he has been there only a year and a half.
    Get him before Juventus does, who are also looking to get rid of that underperforming dinosaur Allegri.

    1. I agree most teams do play much nicer football than Milan even the one below us. While Adli isn’t that great of a player the only reason I do like him is because he is the only one who moves the ball quickly in our team in that case if you can’t do 3-4 quick passes the only option is to rely on individual skills. Otherwise the team is too predictable and reaching the opposition goal would be difficult. So whether Pioli is a good coach or not depends whether he is choosing to stick to his tactics because this team really can’t make some passes or is he choosing these tactics because he thinks his tactics are good. For me it seems a bit of both thus the blame shouldn’t be all on him.

    2. Except Conte wasn’t a ‘winner’ in his last gig and was beaten by Pioli after he alienated the players and club.

      Whatever imaginary standards you think you’re setting for yourself, if Milan finish in the top 3 and reach the late stages of the Europa league then Pioli hopefully won’t be going anywhere.

    3. Hey we’ve had a certain manager with winning mentality, a symbol of the club who said they have a 5 year plan to win the championship. This winning mentality of our capitano rubbed on our players who against all odds won it in 3 years from the plan. They did it in 3 years with restricted budget and had further development in place with multipage strategic plan written and sent to owners who didn’t even take time and take it into consideration.

      We all know what happened next. There’s no winning mentality in this club anymore. It’s a talent factory. A stepping stone club.

      1. Going in hard these days eh Ted 😁
        But tbh it’s all facts. Ppl just don’t want to admit. It was just smoke and mirrors. They did all this to get the same or worse results as last year. When they made these grand moves, beat their chest and say they know/can do better and they don’t, questions gotta be answered. And it’s right to question and have ire drawn onto them

    4. Agree, Conte would instill a winning mentality in our players, and the coach that succeeds him will have a better team to work with

  2. the only learn is, Moncada found another “French super star” in mighty Rennes, potentially bargain who score hattrick against us. he’s French so he’s qualified

  3. We won*. It was fun. We’re through.

    * the tie.

    Not a lot more to say about a qualifying Europa league round.

    Atalanta are the big challenge. We need to revert to the January line up that has put us on this run.

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