CM: Tonali has become a casualty of Pioli’s formation switch at Milan

By Euan Burns -

Italian midfielder Sandro Tonali appears to be a player that has suffered following the switch to a back three rather than a back four, a report suggests.

As has been reported by, one of the players that is really underperforming for Milan right now is Tonali.

The midfielder has been a key player in the midfield for a long time but since the switch to a back three which has changed the look of the midfield slightly, Tonali has not been able to produce the same form.

When he goes on international duty with Italy, it is expected that Roberto Mancini will use him in a midfield three so it will be interesting to see if he is able to produce any better performances.

Stefano Pioli will need to try and study Tonali’s form and try to find a way to make sure his performances can improve in the future.

Tags AC Milan Sandro Tonali Stefano Pioli


  1. 🤣🤣🤣
    Excuses. Excuses, Excuses.
    Same nonsense people use to justify Leao stinkers.
    The switch to 3 man at the back should make both Tonali’s and Leao’s job easier.
    Tonali has protection at the back and the midfield is more crowded.
    While leao doesn’t have to track back anymore (it’s not like he was tracking back much before) and plays closer to the goal.
    Good players adapt and perform in any formation, but one dimensional players are lost once they are asked to do something different than they are used to.

    1. Nonsense. Even Messi at his prime struggled with a change in system. Messi never performed at the same level for Argentina as he did for Barca.

      And you and I don’t know what their best positions are or why, because it’s something intangible. For whatever reason a player will feel more comfortable in a certain position or formation for much the same reason a player will naturally feel more comfortable in defence, midfield or attack. It’s these mysterious that make football so difficult.

      If it was just about picking players based on some stats like in a computer game anyone could do it.

      1. What a nonsense.
        How can you compare player performances with a club where he practice every day with the same teammates, with his national team where they meet every other month for few days.
        Messi was still performing at high level even for Argentina.

        Tonali in his Milan career has been majority of the time poor.
        He had good start and finish of last season but in the middle he wasn’t that good.
        He was awful in his 1st season and he is awful this year.
        It has nothing to do with systems. He is playing in basically the same position.
        He is just not that good.
        If we stop over rating players we won’t have to look for excuses when they are playing at their usual level that most of the fans call drop of form.
        This is not drop of form . This is who these players are

        1. Bless you bro. Tonality has low football IQ. Its his strength he has been relying on. However, when that fails, he’s useless.
          Milan players fail to do simple basics of football: (1) Awareness and observation of your teammates position and opponent position. (2) Teamwork passing to maintain possession of the ball as long as possible (3) Players movement and switching of positions. These basic format offset teams that sit deep. Just learn the way Madrid, napoli, bayern or even inter Milan plays.
          Pioli is not that good at football organisation, cohesion and synergy. If he remains there, these young players will not develop to become attractive sellable products.

          1. Regardless of formation, all of the things you and Z talk about comes down to coaching. Movement and teamwork can be drilled into the squad. Look at Lazio in their second season under Sarri. It took them a season to adapt to his tactics, but since they’ve played much better because he’s a good coach. I picked Lazio as an example because they are precisely a team that doesn’t make many transfers, so the excuse of better players can’t be used. Bottom line is Pioli’s systems don’t get the best out of his players. That’s what good coaches do. They get the best out of what they have on hand, unlike Conte for example, always asking for new players and then leaving after 2 seasons with another 4th place finish and failure in Europe. I am beginning to think Pioli has taken this squad as far as he can take them. Good job “bringing the squad together” after the debacle of January 2020, through Covid and peaking last season, but I think we need someone else to take the next step. Neither defense nor offense are working at the moment, and while the latter has always been on or off, the former was dominant in the second half of last season. How does that department suddenly collapse? #PioliOut?

  2. It didn’t occur to anyone that maybe he is a bit tider? Kid played almost every match this season. That would be a legit reason for his dip in form.

    1. It also occurs to us that he had a month and a half off in November and December. Didn’t play much better prior or after the break for the WC.
      The only players that can use being tired as an excuse are Theo and Giroud. The rest had plenty of time off

  3. Tonali suffers because he is working double duty in central midfield. her has to cover for Bennacer who is being whooped like a little girl and gets overrun constantly. Furthermore, Tonali is also very overworked because he is the only central midfielder who doesn’t get any injuries.
    I think he is tired by now and could sue some breaks here and there

  4. The kid is fine, he like most players just need consistency and a good coach and the confidence will come. The talent is there, he’s just way too inconsistent right now, he needs to start having games like he had last season with much more frequency.

    Then again nobody in our team is playing great so that tells you it’s not just the individuals… Leao awful rn, Giroud is underwhelming 80% of the game but might show up big for a goal here or 2. Theo is super hit and miss this season, Tomori had had a horrendous season, Kalulu has had a few good games but overall looks so much worse than last season…

    So really when all these players look bad, then that means it’s not just an isolated thing with a few off players… it means it’s the management and the coach.

  5. The team is underperformed. By default, everyone suffers from it. For example, Haaland wouldn’t be scoring non stop if Man City hit hard times. Haaland would see much less of the ball and the overall confidence would be missing. It’s a team thing.

    Tonali is not underperforming at all in comparison with the rest of the team.

  6. Are you telling me if failing to pass the ball it’s the coach problem. These so called Leo and tonali there need to train above 100% maybe the may be good

  7. There have costed the team performance. Look at Giroud he is old but still fight for the team…Leo previous game below average

  8. Tonali has probably played 2-3 good matches this season so it’s not because of the formation change. He was bad even before that. He needs to up his game – a lot!

    And that is on Pioli as well. Tonali has gotten a free pass to starting 11 no matter what. There is no competition for playing time as Pioli has decided Milan will play with Benny-Tonali no matter what – unless one is injured or suspended. How’s that helping the team? Pobega, Vranckx, Adli & Krunic all know they’re NOT getting minutes no matter how hard or great they perform. How does that motivate the bench players?

  9. Stop making excuses for him. His poor play did not start with the formation change, his poor play was one of the main reasons for the change. Our midfield was and still is getting bossed every game and it is leaving the defense exposed. Not to mention his poor passing is not helping the offense either.

    1. True. Midfield is where our problems begin. And that ends up showing as mistakes in defense while the bigger issue is that the midfield isn’t up to the task. Not in defense and definitely not in attack either. They fail to deliver anything.

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