Torino 2-1 AC Milan: Five things we learned – wasteful, overwhelmed and unorganised

By Ivan Stoev -

AC Milan traveled to Turin to face off against Torino seeking their fifth consecutive win in Serie A which would have kept up the pressure on Napoli, but they fell to a first away league defeat in 18 games.

The game started well for Milan in terms of creating chances, but Rafael Leao wasted both of Brahim Diaz’s feeds. The first time he was left one on one with the goalkeeper but failed to even hit the target, and then he wasted a through ball where he missed the target.

After those two big chances that Milan did not convert the game became more feisty and balanced, with Torino eventually taking the lead via a set piece, which has been the weakness of Pioli’s side over and over again. It only took two minutes after the opener for Torino to score a second after more questionable defending.

In the second half, Pioli made several changes but that did not result in more dangerous chances, with the eventual goal coming via a foolish mistake from Milinkovic-Savic that Junior Messias converted. The goal didn’t change the match and the three points went to the home side, so here are five things we learned:

1. Achilles heel

The problems Milan have from set-pieces have persisted for years it feels like they are yet to improve on that weakness. Djidji was left unmarked in the 35th minute and didn’t even have to jump to convert a free header in off the far post.

It seemed as if Kalulu was the man that had to mark him, but we only saw Gabbia rushing towards Djidji in an attempt to intervene, so the result was horrible defending and lack of communication.

It’s one thing to have a tall physical player beat you in the air and head the ball in with precision, but just giving away free headers like that is unacceptable and the mixture of zonal and man-marking approaches clearly doesn’t work in Milan’s favour.

2. Unusual flop

Rafael Leao managed to be the flop of the game and this is very unusual for him as he didn’t even get the chance to make things right in the second half because he was subbed off at half-time.

We have often spoken about the winger and whether or not the club should meet his salary demands and whilst the answer has generally been yes without much of a question, the opportunities he missed early in the game are exactly the ones that he needs to bury if he wants to be one of the highest paid players in Italy.

Now, obviously, every player will have a bad game here and there and Leao is the most dangerous player by far in this Milan squad, but what’s worrying in this particular instance is just how bad these two misses were and the reaction after them that was non-existent.

3. Misfiring left side

If wasn’t bad enough that Leao had a rough night, his partner in crime – Theo Hernandez – also failed to have any impact on the game.

The Frenchman is usually a powerhouse on the pitch, but against Torino he was a shadow of himself as he failed to impose himself on the game.

Theo offered little to nothing going forward as his forward runs just didn’t work out and in the final third of the game he could barely make an accurate pass or control the ball at all as he lost possession on multiple occasions.

It was really disappointing outing for the left-back and he will need to respond against Red Bull Salzburg if Milan want to make it out of the group.

4. Midfield overwhelmed

Pioli started the game with Pobega and Tonali in the starting XI and despite a couple of good moments the duo failed to dominate the middle of the park.

Pobega was clumsy and slow and could have easily racked up two yellows with his challenges. Tonali tried to make something happen with a few optimistic long balls – one of which resulted in Messias’ goal – but other than that the Italian was also underwhelming as he could not impose himself.

There is also the question of chemistry as Pioli has rotated the squad a lot in recent weeks and it was obvious at times that something wasn’t clicking, but because of the tough schedule Pioli will need to find a solution because Ismael Bennacer and Tonali cannot start every single game together.

5. A surprise positive

Sergino Dest had arguably his best performance for Milan so far against Torino but unfortunately that came when the rest of the team was not performing at all.

The right-back was the only one trying to make something happen as he was not afraid of going forward or taking on his man. His pace and dribbling allowed him to do so, but Torino were not hesitant to foul him if he slipped pass a man or two.

That being said, the performance is a building block for the Barcelona loanee as he has looked better in the last couple of games, and at the very least he looks as though he could be a good impact man to call upon.

Tags AC Milan Torino - Milan


  1. 1. I really think that Kalulu had a concussion after he inadvertently got hit in the head with a knee by Vlasic. He looked lost after that.

    2. “Unusual Flop”? Leao? For the better part of 2 and a half years, this dude was the flop in every game he was playing. A few months of decent play doesn’t fit in the “unusual” category .
    He has always been a poor finisher.

    3. Theo’s game and Leao’s, for that matter , is based on athleticism and speed, there is very little technical skill there. If you match them up against a defender with the same athletic ability, you can easily take them out of the game. Singo took both of them out of the game.

    4. The midfield needs to go to 3 men. The double pivot worked for 2+ years because of Kessie. He isn’t here anymore, and Pioli needs to adjust to the characteristics of the players in his disposal. Bennacer at regista with Tonali and CDK as mezzalas. I see CDK in the De Bruyne role more than as a 10.

    5. Serginho Dest had a good minutes attacking, as he is known for. But his defending is still very suspect

    1. “1. I really think that Kalulu had a concussion after he inadvertently got hit in the head with a knee by Vlasic. He looked lost after that.”

      Milan’s doctors couldn’t see Kalulu had a concussion but you saw that from the telly? LOL! He had a contact to his EYE and that was bothering him. I think it was one of Vlasic’s studs that scratched his eye as he was constantly cleaning his eye after that.

      “2. “Unusual Flop”? Leao? ”
      – Not going to disagree anything said here.

      – Not going to disagree anything said here.

      – With the men available now, I agree.

      – True.

  2. Dest is not Milan quality, period.
    His potential has been reached.
    Don’t think he has a strong foot or even knows his right from his left.

  3. Finally someone willing to point out that our midfield has been weak. For everyone who didn’t think that we needed to sign anyone to replace Kessie.

    1. Or is it like we have a mid in vrankx which we are not trying and for defence we should try thiaw and Kjær maybe that works because Tomori is out of form and Gabbia is good but thiaw and Kjær might be better.

    2. @K Kessie leaving us was the factor move that crippled Milan this season. Surprised we are doing “well” amidst this crisis so far but things could only hold up for so long, and the game against Torino showed us where things stand.

  4. There! point number 4 20&8.
    when will Pioli realise this already. Calha and Kessie were a big reason why this current tactic and formation worked. Its quite clear a switch to a 3 man midfield will suit everyone, enhance and harness player abilities (like Tonali’s passing, which is gradually dying, and his runs from deep), improve team performance and ‘comfort’ and allow other players to be brought in with little risk.
    Diaz and CDK can be sent to the flanks, left and right. Rebic has proven we dont need to sign new CF soon. Him and Origi with their characteristics can lead the line well in that formation.
    Currently the team struggles a lot in this ‘too much tinkered’ system.

  5. Good observation. Double pivot and a trequartista was designed for Calha, Kessie, and Ibra. With the current players we have a 433 is the answer. I believe many will benefit from the new formation. Diaz can play on both sides, CDK can act as false 9, RW, or mezzala, Pobega can play his best role, and we have mobile strikers who can interchange with other players.

  6. We cannot be to harsh. You guy’s have to be honest at some point you saw this coming especially with the schedule they had and all the injuries non of the decisive players where 100%fit maybe not even 70% and the players who had the task to fill the gap have not performed mid level yet. And maybe it was good losing this game so there will be more attention on the weaknesses. As like we need a different back up goali, the loss of botman on the transfer market was a bigg loss I didn’t saw it in the beginning but after this game pff. Dest i agree not on milan’s level he losses his focus too much and often makes bad decisions. For the build up we saw how much we need leao to be fit in the team and how important tonali and bennacer are we need another player on the right that can be just as decisive as leao and we have to watch napoli maybe a extra scout they didn’t spend crazy but they bought quality great scouting from napoli milan can do this to invest in a extra scout an they can buy cheaper talents. Maybe milan has to look in their youth give a chance to a young goali it did well that time with donnarumma. And also with locatelli and calabria

  7. Never have I read such rubbish comments.

    Everyone on here needs to take a step back and look at the packed schedule of games we have. A game every 3 days means we are bound to play a game where we have no energy and drive. It happens.

    Stop being alarmists or thinking our manager doesn’t know his players. He has won us a scudetto when no one thought it possible with the squad we have.

  8. The biggest lesson is take advantage of your chances when you have. I once stated this after the Chelsea game.
    Now, I see people picking Diaz as a flop – one of the situations about CDK as well – I mean how do you create those 2 wonderful chances yet unconverted. The second one: Diaz could have shot on goal by himself but chose to feed Leao who wasted such a huge chance.
    If CDK passes were well utilised, he could be around 4-5 assists presently.
    Bottom line, we need to be more clinical on goal.
    Napoli was more clinical, didn’t even have half shots on goal as we did but they won and that’s why they seem unstoppable presently.

    1. Yep. At the end of the day, it’s the number of goals that decide who gets the points. And Milan has been poor at finishing in many, many matches. Even with the 4 goals scored against Dinamo, out of the chances they had, they should had scored ~ten.

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