Sacchi describes Milan as ‘sparring partner’ of Inter and criticises Pioli tactics

By Euan Burns -

Former AC Milan coach Arrigo Sacchi has said that the Rossoneri looked like the ‘sparring partner’ of Inter during the Derby della Madonnina defeat on Sunday night. 

Speaking during an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport (via Milan News), Sacchi had plenty of criticism for his former side which ended the derby as 1-0 losers.

He suggested that Inter were so comfortable that they were just toying with Milan, rather than competing with them.

“Milan are no longer a team, especially the one in the first half. Inter did not play against an opponent, but against a sparring partner. Milan only ran after the opponents and always arrived late,” he said.

“Never a hint of pressing, never an advance, always bland marking. Switching to a five-man defence created confusion and wiped out the last few years of work. This is my thought. Any idea of play has also been cancelled out. How many shots on goal did Milan take in the first half? Zero. It was a monologue of Inter who did not struggle much and ended the first half dominating the field. Inter played on velvet because Milan allowed them to.”

Sacchi was also very critical of Stefano Pioli’s decision to play with a back three in the derby, something Milan very rarely do under his guidance.

The Italian felt that he undid the recent years of good work by changing his ideas so drastically for such a big game of football.

“Pioli did a great job, this should never be forgotten. But in the derby, we must be honest, with his choices he cancelled all that work. In my opinion, it’s a mistake to change ideas and system of play,” Sacchi said.

“It’s true that Hernandez and Giroud are squeezed like lemons after their World Cup adventure, but that doesn’t mean you have to change the formation. You can cover, but also in other ways.

“Instead of playing with two midfielders, put three. Strikers like Giroud and Leao did not fit in? Help them with an extra man in the middle. But deploying a five-man rearguard means losing certainties. Milan seemed frightened, even terrified.

“The real problem is that the coach must be the first to be convinced of his own ideas and has the duty to transmit them to the players. If he changes formation it’s as if he were saying: ‘I was wrong’. That’s not good enough. The job of a coach is to convince his boys, he has to get inside their heads and hammer them until they do what he wants.”

Milan are now without a win since January 4 when they beat Salernitana in Salerno. Milan now sit in sixth place in the table but are level on point with fourth place.

Tags AC Milan Arrigo Sacchi Inter Stefano Pioli


  1. “In my opinion, it’s a mistake to change ideas and system of play,” Sacchi said.

    “Instead of playing with two midfielders, put three.”

    I’m all for criticising Pioli, but do it coherently.
    I think the system change was actually good, but with the player choice Pioli insisted to prove he’s not thinking clearly

  2. I think the safer approach for the derby was playing 4-3-3; 3-5-2 is a huge shift, especially if he is going to play Messias as part of the midfield. Id try 352 against a lesser Team.

  3. The problem was playing Calabria, Gabbia, and Messias, he has other options that he is not using, if you have players that are terrible it can’t get worst then it is when you put other players plus those players have motivation to perform well as Adli. Thiaw is a much better option than Gabbia. No point in changing the formation when the team selection is horrible.

  4. Milan has to set a New Tactic
    424 this can allow Giroud and Leao to have less Stress to Score
    Origi. Giroud messiah ?
    Tonali Saleamerc Calabria ?
    Theo H Kalalulu
    Question Mark is who is not Injured

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