Torino 3-1 AC Milan: Five things we learned – defensive struggles and perplexing tactics

By Ivan Stoev -

AC Milan travelled to Turin with the hopes of clinching a win in their last away game of the season. However, Torino prevailed 3-1 as the Rossoneri displayed their defensive weaknesses once again, with a lot of negatives to take from the game. 

Stefano Pioli’s men had nothing to play for, having already secured second place, while Torino were fighting for a potential spot in the Conference League. The difference in motivation was clearly visible on the pitch.

Torino opened the scoresheet after 26 minutes with a nice header from Duvan Zapata, and they then managed to double their lead just before the break through Ivan Ilic. To make matters worse, Ricardo Rodriguez scored less than a minute into the second half to make it 3-0.

Milan managed to pull one back from the spot, with Ismael Bennacer converting the penalty in the 55th minute. However, they failed to make the game more interesting as things were not clicking in attack for Pioli’s side. Below are five things we learned…

1. Defensive overhaul needed

It would perhaps be harsh to single out one of Milan’s defenders for the performance last night, as it seemed more like a collective breakdown than anything. Pierre Kalulu and Filippo Terracciano were both in the starting XI but failed to impress, which was a shame.

Things were even worse in the centre of the department as Malick Thiaw and Fikayo Tomori were both very poor. The German was at fault for the first goal and didn’t really assert himself in the game. The Englishman, meanwhile, was at fault for the second and continued to complain a lot (more so than defending, seemingly).

Given the defensive performances throughout the season, even when accounting for the injuries, it just seems like an overhaul is needed and all of the players mentioned should be considered sellable if the right offer comes.

2. Bennacer looking a lot better

The Algerian was injured for quite a while and he has had some poor games following his injury, which was to be expected. However, in recent weeks, he has picked up the pace by showcasing some of his abilities.

Against Torino, he was probably the best of the bunch along with Christian Pulisic, who was named the MOTM in our player ratings. Bennacer’s penalty was indeed very calm and composed, scoring his second goal of the season.

Rumours have suggested that Bennacer is considered sellable, but it would be interesting to see if he can be a leader for this side with a full pre-season and proper form. He certainly has the qualities to help Milan do better, not to mention that he’s still only 26 years old.

3. Pulisic the only one trying

It was not a pleasant performance up front for Milan, with Luka Jovic struggling a lot and barely having any chances it’s fair to say.

Noah Okafor got the nod over Rafael Leao on the left flank and started the game well, beating his man on multiple occasions and nearly scoring a great goal. However, he became more anonymous as the game went on and was rightfully subbed off in the second half.

Pulisic, on the other hand, was the only one trying to make something happen as he won the penalty and hit the crossbar before that. The American was also involved in a few more dangerous situations, but ultimately was missing that edge in his game to make a bigger impact.

4. Jovic is not the answer

With Giroud heading to sunny LA, the management has to find a replacement for the Frenchman. Even if Jovic were to stay beyond the summer, he’s most certainly not going to be the main man up front for the Rossoneri.

The striker has proved crucial off the bench, scoring several goals, but he has failed to replicate that when given the nod from start. We saw this against Torino as well, although you could perhaps argue that he didn’t get much service either.

All things considered, though, he has probably done enough to earn himself a renewal and with a new manager as well as playing stile, he might be even more useful.

5. Last chance for Pioli to go out with a win

The manager has had his fair share of failed decisions this season and the tactics against Torino will have to be added to the tally, as Milan looked toothless for most of the game. Both of the full-backs were also inverted and that caused defensive chaos in some situations, with the players all over the place.

Whether his tactics were the problem or the players themselves doesn’t really matter at this stage. Against Salernitana, he will have the chance to end his Milan tenure with a win in front of the home fans at San Siro.

He will need to find a way to motivate these players for one last game, as it would be a shame to close the chapter without a win. Also considering that a few players will be making their last games for the club.

Tags AC Milan Serie A Torino


  1. There is “nothing” much to learn, this is a glorified friendly game.
    Yes we were poor, yes some players could have actually used this opportunity to show a better picture of themselves and yes Pioli could have tried something else rather than the usual “tried and failed”, but let’s not pretend something was at actually at stake.

    1. If something is not at stake.. it’s just okay to set the worst record since 1965 or something? lol Fans these days…

      1. Where did I say it’s okay to be this bad or it’s that it’s good to lose mister “poster boy for fan of the year os something” ?

  2. 46 goals conceded this season in Serie A. Only in 2013/14 (49 goals conceded) and 2014/15 (50 goals conceded) were worse figures recorded. And that’s since the beginning of the 21st century. Banter era stats.

    Pioli is overachieving, competition in serie A this season is a joke and as many of you like to call our Scudetto season – we were just lucky.

    1. And I would say that the majority of those goals came from the fact that we didn’t have a midfield – like at all.

      So we pushed out 2 midfielders (Tonali and Krunic), signed 3 new midfielders and ‘discovered’ a 4th (Adli) and basically created a massive hole in the middle of the park.

      They should call [whoever makes these decisions] Moses – he managed to part the Red (and Black) Sea.

      I’ll get my coat.

  3. Bennacer was so bad and this writer could not see? Every ball to him ended as a back pass from him, no dribble, no pass forward. Lost every one to one duel in defense, even commentators said he is so left footed that he could not ( predictably) cross from right, sell asap, he can help us to top four of Serie A, definitely not champion.
    Jovic was pretty good actually, at least a few times he made really good dribble and passes, including the one chance from Okafour. You can not blame him for the three balls conceded. He did not lose any ball, and no one created chance for him, a few passes to him was narrowly blocked.

  4. Bennacer looking a lot better!
    Why, because he scored a penalty?
    Bennacer is by far Milan most overrated player over the last few years.
    He has been at Milan for 5 years. He was a starter in only 2 of them, 19/20 and 22/23. In serie A He played 2468 and 2012 minutes in those 2 years. Milan finished 6th and 5th with him as a starter.
    In the other 3 years when he was just a bench player: 20/21, 1331 minutes, 21/22 1518 minutes and 23/24 ,1062 minutes, Milan finished 2nd, 1st and 2nd again. I’m just saying 🤷.
    So when he is a starter Milan is 5th or 6th, when he is a bench player Milan is either 2nd or 1st. But some will tell you he is Milan’s best midfielder 😂. They will throw in a cliche like form is temporary but class is permanent couple times a season when Bennacer actually has a good game.
    Just for comparison, Kessie played on average 3000 minutes PER SEASON just in serie A as a Milan player. Bennacer never came close to 3000 minutes in a season in all competitions and in the 3 most successful Milan seasons in serie A he barely played over 3000 minutes combined in 3 years.
    If an offer comes in, and that’s a big IF, Milan should take the money and run fast.
    Milan is buying another midfielder this summer anyway, so Bennacer will find himself back where he belongs, on the pine, if he is not sold.

    1. “So when he is a starter Milan is 5th or 6th, when he is a bench player Milan is either 2nd or 1st. ”
      That’s misses a lot of what happened in those seasons. In 2019/20 we had 2 coaches and earlier Giampaolo prefered Biglia over him. We improved after the COVID when he was a regular. The fifth place in 2022/23 was more due to Kessie’s absence and lack of replacement rather than him being a starter.
      In our best season he was always gonna be behind Tonali (the better playmaker) and Kessie (the better defensively) but he did do quite well and allowed us to effectively rotate the midfield.
      I’m not against selling him but that’s mostly because I think he might have become an injury prone player who is always gonna end up missing a lot of games (kind of like Neymar and Hazard).
      I would definetly listen to offers north of 40M.

    2. I have to say I agree with this analysis.

      I can’t remember whether you were pro or anti-Tonali or Krunic sale but the long and short of it is we somehow ended up with the worst of the four Scudetto winning midfielders (and Adli….).

  5. “The fifth place in 2022/23 was more due to Kessie’s absence and lack of replacement rather than him being a starter.”

    You missing the whole point.
    If Milan brought in a Kessie replacement, guess what would have happened to Bennacer? He wouldn’t have been a starter. So if Milan finished above 5th place it’s still be because he was a bench player and not a starter. Which proves my point that Milan is better off when Bennacer is a bench player because he isn’t a starting material player.
    This season they also didn’t bring in a Kessie replacement and Milan still finished 2nd with Bennacer being either out injured or being a bench player.
    And no one in their right mind would pay you 40 mil for Bennacer. There are maybe 3 players at Milan that can get you 40 or more and Bennacer is definitely not one of them.
    Saudi league is the only hope if Milan wants to cash in on him. He is too small and too fragile to play in EPL, while in Spain small midfielders like him are dime a dozen. If someone offers 25-30 mil it would be a miracle.

    1. He is being valued around 35M according to many sources and around 23M according to, and considering how teams currently value their players, 40M doesn’t seem that unrealistic.
      But again I don’t expect offers to get him aside from maybe the Saudis who can pay his release clause right away or perhaps a mid-table team in the EPL.
      The problem that we have to consider is since Kessie, Tonali and now Krunic are gone all of our midfielders aside from him can’t defend, so that means that even if we get a solid defensive midfielder, if we sell Bennacer we will still have only one midfielder who can defend. So selling Bennacer would mean we will have to look for 2 defensives midfielders, or 1 CDM and 1 box-to-box type of player.

      1. right on point. I’d take Krunic out, he cant defend either. At one point i had hoped Musah was going to take over DM but i was wrong. He seems closer to RLC where he has the physicality to defend but not the interest in doing so.
        Anyway, i agree, selling Bennie means we need 2 DM.

  6. 1. Overhaul? You need all brand new CB(2), LB, and RB especially if Theo leaves. the problem is NOT enough money except Leao, Theo, Menyong are sold wich is a massive drawback
    2. Bennacer isn’t bad but clearly not the same level as Kessie and Hakan
    3. Pulisic isn’t a superstar but at least he is a hard worker
    4. No, Jovic isn’t an answer, He is a question

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