Udinese 3-1 AC Milan: Five things we learned – errors all over and dismal depth

By Ivan Stoev -

After a disappointing 1-1 draw against Salernitana, AC Milan continued their poor league form by falling to a 3-1 defeat against Udinese at the Dacia Arena.

Milan got into a rhythm of sorts in February with three consecutive wins and clean sheets in Serie A with many fans presuming that the team had turned a corner, but a three-match winless run has followed with defeats against Fiorentina and Udinese coming either side of a home draw against Salernitana.

It also seems that the performances are getting worse too with Milan looking clueless on Saturday as they conceded early on and never really got going despite Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s equaliser, with Beto restoring the home side’s lead before the break and Kingsley Ehizibue sealing the win. Here are five things we learned…

1. Defensive disaster

As we mentioned above, Milan actually got out of the January chaos because of solid defending as they managed three clean sheets in a row in Serie A in addition to two against Spurs in the Champions League.

However, it would seem that the stability at the back has crumbled yet again with Kalulu, Thiaw and Tomori having a disaster of a night in Udine. The latter two in particular were awful with the Englishman at fault for the opener and the German beaten easily for the second goal.

The worrying thing is that it continues a trend established in the season so far whereby the defence struggle to put together a run of good games, always making errors leading to goals.

2. Blunt and boring

To make matters worse, the attacking department hasn’t really been that impressive either even when Milan were winning games last month.

Other than scoring a penalty, Ibrahimovic wasn’t particularly useful as he dropped too deep in the first half, which wouldn’t be an issue if the Swede actually made a difference on the ball, but he was too slow and sloppy at times.

Brahim Diaz on the other hand had a decent game, but as always he can’t make the right decision when it matters so effectively he didn’t really make a difference.

Alexis Saelemaekers was another player that failed to make any significant impact as his end product was poor. Fode Ballo-Toure didn’t really offer the same as Theo Hernandez as expected but did try to go forward when he could.

3. Gone missing

Rafael Leao was left out of the previous point deliberately as the Portuguese is usually the one causing the majority of the trouble for the opposition, yet he has been struggling to do that for a while now.

The Portuguese forward has had a handful of good games if that since the turn of the year and his good ones were also not on the level he himself set. Against Udinese he struggled to make anything happen and was also sloppy on several occasions giving the ball away cheaply.

The saga regarding the contract renewal is still hanging over his head, but the former Lille needs to actually show his worth on the pitch since at the moment his demands do not seem justified and while we know what he is capable of, big earners need to be consistent difference makers.

4. Not up to the task

Another issue for Milan has been the midfield, an area which last season was the pillar of the Rossoneri’s game. In recent months Tonali and Bennacer haven’t really lived up to the standard of last season and the depth that Pioli has is simply not good enough to replace the duo.

Krunic usually does well when called upon, thought he’s definitely not the missing piece of the puzzle, while Tommaso Pobega hasn’t been involved as much recently and that also applies to Aster Vranckx who hasn’t played in a while now.

This is a big problem that the management must address in the summer since nobody really replacedF Franck Kessie during the summer and having just two quality midfielders is simply not enough for such a big amount of games across the competitions.

5. Depth charge

While Pioli might be the one to blame for various parts of the game we have to be fair in saying that he plays the players that he has on his disposal and he can’t be blamed for the dreadful defending that we saw against Udinese.

Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t have solutions on the bench as all of the summer signings have been poor whilst the players that were there – Rebic, Ibrahimovic, Florenzi to name a few – are simply not good enough to be game changers.

Leao has been in a poor run of form, but the alternative is Rebic who is even worse when on the pitch. Giroud has been working overtime for the entire season aged 36, while in midfield there’s really not much to choose from.

If the coach was to stay beyond the summer, he would need a squad overhaul of sorts as this is simply not a group of players that can be competitive, nor one where he trusts everyone it seems.

Tags AC Milan Udinese-Milan


  1. There’s no quality outside of the starting 11. If players like Leao and Theo are not up it the team will suffer.

    This is poor foresight by Milan management. Motivation alone is not enough if the quality is lacking.

  2. The midfield is suffocated. With Maignan back please go back to 4-3-3. We need 3 in the midfield or else we will never climb out of this hole. Stop blaming individual players as well, all of them. Pioli must go.

  3. The back three experiment worked for a few games and allowed Thaiw to come into the fold but it’s starting to look like Krunic was the big reason for our defensive improvement. Individually, our defense is good enough, (Tomori needs a timeout though) and two center backs should be enough. We need and extra player up front and we need to cater to Leao because he is our only genuine goal threat. Our rivals dropped points three weeks in a row and we only managed one point. We should have been out of their sight by now. There’s blame to go around everywhere. Hopefully the international break will help us regroup.

  4. 6th thing we’ve learned: Pioli doesn’t learn from his mistakes.

    Every single match has the same exact approach. His methods aren’t working but he doesn’t make ANY changes.

    “In recent months Tonali and Bennacer haven’t really lived up to the standard of last season and the depth that Pioli has is simply not good enough to replace the duo.”

    That duo is underperforming every match. Surely Krunic and/or Vranckx, Adli, Pobega can’t do worse as those two are the main reason for both the leaky defense and ineffective attack. They don’t defend enough in front of the defense and provide ZERO help/creativity to the attacking phase. I’m actually convinced that “Back-pass”-Krunic alone is more useful in attacks than Tonnacer (or Benali).

    If LW is an issue, why not put Hernandez there? Gareth Bale started as a LB too and became one of the most dangerous wingers when “promoted”. Why not try the same with Theo?

    So… Milan has the 3rd worst defense in Italy. How about making changes? There’s e.g. Kjaer on the bench. You know they guy who nullified one of the EPL’s greatest/deadliest strikers of all time a few weeks ago and made him look like a tiny ballerina. Tomori isn’t up to task and should be benched. It’s so sad that Pioli is the only one failing to see that.

    1. Exactly – Pioli doesn’t learn from his mistakes!
      We see the same game plan every match, hoping things wil ‘sort themselves out’.
      We need a bold new approach and we won’t get that with this guy at the helm..

  5. We have one of the best youth teams in Europe. Coubis, Traore and El Hilali should be given a chance – just as Juve have with Miretti and Soule.

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