Sky journalist outlines Milan’s ‘two souls’ tactically including the ‘false 4-3-3’

By Oliver Fisher -

There are only five days until the 2023-24 Serie A season gets underway for AC Milan as they take to the field against Bologna at the Stadio Renato dall’Ara.

It has been a hectic summer for Milan which started with the departures of Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara then the sale of Sandro Tonali followed, before a string of eight new signings turned scepticism to enthusiasm.

Milan have been the most active of any Serie A team in the summer window having signed Marco Sportiello, Luka Romero, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Christian Pulisic, Noah Okafor, Samuel Chukwueze, Tijjani Reijnders and Yunus Musah.

This has aroused questions about what formation Stefano Pioli will field heading into that first game next Monday, and some updates came from Peppe Di Stefano during a segment for Sky, with his words relayed by Radio Rossonera.

“There are two souls in this Milan. Those of the last few seasons, very attacking and where you need to have perfect automatisms to support three attacking midfielders and a striker, or have a slightly more balanced formula like the 4-3-3,” he began.

“From what I understand Pioli is working on this last option, from 10 July he also tried the 4-2-3-1 but with the new signings he worked on the three-man midfield and I think that’s the starting point.

“Then in reality it’s a even a false 4-3-3, because more often than not in the friendlies this summer – no less than seven played by Milan – we saw a 4-3-3 that easily became a 4-2-3-1 with Loftus-Cheek behind the striker. He is a bit of a physically strong midfielder like Kessié was, who was decisive.

“Pioli wants to follow that Milan there: two in the middle of the field, in this case Krunic and Reijnders, who is doing very well and is the purchase that in my opinion fits best into this segment of the season, and Pulisic is slightly behind what his expectations were.

“Watch out for Chukwueze, because he’s made an impression in these first 10/15 days at Milanello. He has dribbling in his blood, he runs, shoots, goes at his opponent and we know in Italy how much difference this can make.”

Tags AC Milan


  1. I really dont get why we wouldnt have the 4-2-3-1 formation as our primary one as it really makes the most sense to me. leao, pulisic, chukwueze behind giorud/okafor/?.
    Pulisics has some of his best stats compared to the % oucome in games played in that position.

    Played as…
    Right Winger 107 11 25
    Left Winger 80 22 12
    Attacking Midfield 61 17 16
    Centre-Forward 11 3 3
    Right Midfield 10 – 2
    Second Striker 6 2 –
    Central Midfield 1 1 1

    1. Because it will be an unbalanced line up.
      That line up is way to attacking. On the right, last few years Milan had a pseudo winger who played more as a wing back.
      Chukwueze is an attacking winger, so he will leave big gap between him and the RB.
      Also, with Kessie & Tonali gone and Bennacer injured, Milan doesn’t really have that defensive midfielder that can run sideline to sideline, and help out the defense.
      Loftus Cheek, Musah and Reijnders are not that good defensively, and Krunic doesn’t have the pace nor agility to do what Kessie, Tonali and Bennacer were doing.
      For Milan to play 4231 they will need to sign a proper defensive midfielder or even better 2 DMs

      1. I get that the balancing might be a bit off as saelemaekers priously helped with that but if we can score more goals than the opposions we would still win so it wouldnt reakky matter if we leaked a few goals as well. A front 4 of those players would be a daunting task for all the oppositions we would meet.
        Im all for us signing a good dm though.

      2. I don’t agree. The best defenders at Man City are the front 6…because they press high and win the ball back before the CBs are even needed.

        I don’t buy the ‘he can’t defend’ conversation. Leao needs to learn to defend, as does Chukwueze and Pulisic.

        Hypothetically, if we had Tonali and Bennacer behnd the front 4 of Chukwueze-Pulisic-Leao and Giroud/Okafor then it is perfectly balanced.

        I do not understand that now we have the perfect attacking players for a 4231, we have signed box to box midfielders…..who clearly don’t seem to be able or willing to defend. Roy Keane was box to box and he could defend, as could Matthaus, Rijkaard, Desailly………the problem these days is in the world of Fifa video games, everyone has a ‘Position’…i’m a CAM, i can’t play CM or box to box…

        1. Milan and ManCity have totally different approach.
          Milan plays high press and counter attack, while Man City dominates possession.
          Also, Man City vs Inter played with 4 CBs, one of them Stones played in the defensive midfield next to a defensive midfielder Rodri and Gundogan.
          Pep teams defend by dominating possession and keeping the ball away from the other team. They can do that because they have players who are good on the ball and smart.
          Milan doesn’t have many players who are good on the ball. Most of Milan players are just runners

          1. Thats my point, the difference is the way Pep sets his team up. The coach gets the best out of players

            City play with a high press, when they lose the ball the forwards are onto the press and hunt the ball back, I don’t buy that Leao can’t do that…Sacchi imposed the same.

            3 years ago Grealish was known as a talent but lazy and wasteful. He now tracks back like a mad man.

            City’s formation is fluid. Stones is as attacking as he is defensive, that’s my whole point, players should be able to do both. City dominate possession because they attack and defend from the front..

          2. Man city does counter attack if they can win the ball high. But also have the ability to retain possession with some of the best players in the world…

            This team should counter attack if they win the ball high, but also be working on the build up play. They have already started inverting a fullback somewhat similar to the stones role…

            I’ve seen some nice 1, 2s from some of the new players and several havent gotten in with the first team yet.

            Its clear thats the style they would like to move towards…

          3. Rodri and Gundogan aren’t dms…they are just good at everything which is what makes that team so effective. The most balanced players they have I think are Reijnders and Musah. But I’d argue that Rodri is potentially the best player in the world. If its not KDB or haaland so the bar is high…

        2. Yes, assuming a high press…similar to city which I am very much hoping for…

          the defense should be played as high up the field as possible.

          Chukwueze, Pulisic (right now RLC is in the KDB role but doesn’t have the workrate), Leao, Giroud (I have concerns about some of their defending) but Pulisic’s workrate reminds of Bernardo. Push the ball to the flank and cut off central passing lanees.

          Reijnders and Musah both have very high workrates and are more than capable defensively. I’d argue they are more of the positionless variety…to play the Gundogan and Rodri roles behind the front 4.

          Fullbacks press the wingers…

          Two CBs cover the striker….

          At least thats how it would look if they went full Pep…

          1. I like your thoughts my friend.

            The bottom line is, if by some Miracle we got Pep tomorrow, he would transform this team and get results out of players we never thought possible.

            The next step is to replace Pioli, he’s decent but he’s not best in class

        3. if we get pep, can he bring de bruyne, rodri, stones, diaz with him? I don’t think thats too much to ask….We could use another striker but i won’t even get greedy with haaland…

      3. You said my mind
        Better off going back to the 343 where hernandez can push higher to join leao and the pseudo winger( Salad) can play along side the real winger (chukwueze)

      1. Yeah same for me because we otherwise will end up with potantially chukweze, okafor and romero on the bench and the latter will most likely suffer from that and we would really be a force to be reckoned with utilizing the 4-2-3-1 instead.

    2. Pulisic might be able to play as a false nine type of striker and replace Giroud in some games. With Pulisic we might be able to play the same game that we had with Rebic as striker when he was still interested in playing.

      If Pioli and management think that, between Giroud, Pulisic/Okafor and one of Origi/Colombo, we probably don’t need another striker and we can focus on improving midfield and defense.

      1. It looks like they are using RLC as the second striker now…id be interested in seeing him as striker with pulisic moving to his role behind him.

    3. The 4-2-3-1 is far better than the useless 4-3-3 because we haven gotten More attackers we don’t have midfield and we don’t need midfield what we need is few midfield and more attackers deadly onces to score Goals that is why we couldn’t reached the final now we have gotten some deadly attackers like Romero, chukwueze, pulisic,musah,leao,Noah Okafor,and Geroud so our coach should return to our 4-2-3-1 if Pioli insist on 4-3-3 some issues we come and we will still reversed to the formation let Loftus cheek plays more deeper role like playing defensive midfield with rejnider or krunic

      1. I agree and think utilizing loftus in a more defensive role could make it work even though an addition of a dm nevertheless wouldnt be a bad choice either.
        If we keep the 4-3-3 formation we will most likely see chukwueze, okafor and romero as bench players and that is not really utilizing the sqyad to its fulll extent. 4-3-3 should be a secondary formation as i see it.

    4. it’s called having options .. if we play Leao, Chuk and Pulisic from the start, who will we have coming from the bench ?

  2. Anyone remembers Leonardo’s 4-2-Fantasia? That was one hell of an attacking formation with attractive play but really unbalanced and let too much goals inside. It would be similar now.

    1. Yep I remembered that. Right now we’re doing 4-1-Fantasia😍… EVEN BETTER 😂😂😂…could just be 4-fantasia even lol 😁

  3. “Then in reality it’s a even a false 4-3-3, because more often than not in the friendlies this summer – no less than seven played by Milan – we saw a 4-3-3 that easily became a 4-2-3-1 with Loftus-Cheek behind the striker. He is a bit of a physically strong midfielder like Kessié was, who was decisive.“

    I have been saying this all preseason. RLC has been playing as a CAM in those games. Maybe it changes during season but we are not playing a traditional 4-3-3. Which means we are kind of top heavy on the mids and should focus a getting another #9. Big mistake if we don’t…

    1. That does make sense as it seems Pioli wanted a physical no10, he was very keen on SMS. RLC has those characteristics. 433 becomes 4231 quite easily

      I agree with you on the no9, we need someone young enough but also someone to come in who can perform.

    2. your not the only one. no one would discuss it despite his average position on the map being higher than giroud. The only response was…we need a 4231…and im just thinking…ok so either im going crazy or these fans are stuck on what they are reading and not watching the games…i havent seen them play a 433 yet…RLC doesnt have the mobility…

      Even in this thread. people are talking about how we should play a 4231…not realizing we have been playing it all preseason….im at a loss.

    3. thank god for musah…he will have a chance to come in and even just running the field and playing hard will be an upgrade…

Comments are closed

Serie A Standings

Live football scores . Current table, fixtures & results.