Udinese 1-1 AC Milan: Five things we learned – toothless, error-prone and tired

By Ivan Stoev -

After dropping out of Europe with a loss to Udinese in midweek, the only focus for Milan has become Serie A and potentially putting up a fight for the Scudetto with an away game at Udinese the first obstacle. 

However, Milan looked nothing like themselves as they failed to create dangerous chances and once again appeared to be leaky at the back. They even gave the ball away cheaply through the middle to allow the home side to take the lead before half time through Beto.

After the interval Milan still struggled to make things happen despite a triple change. The press wasn’t working as it should have and the players were slow to move the ball around. The general lack of creativity has been a problem for Milan for a while now as their injury crisis in the attacking department continues.

Fortunately, Zlatan Ibrahimovic got an equaliser in the dying minutes of the game to salvage a draw, but it was evident that Milan was having troubles and they need to be addressed as early as January if the team were to go on and fight for the Scudetto. Here are five things we learned…

1. Nightmare continues

One of the strongest parts of Milan’s game has become one of the worst as the Rossoneri continue to struggle to keep a clean sheet and also persist in conceding plenty of sloppy goals in recent weeks.

Theo Hernandez wasn’t on the needed level as his shaky performances continue. The Frenchman wasn’t convincing when going forward either as he just couldn’t make things work and lost the ball a lot.

Down the middle, Tomori was also a bit off pace and so was Romagnoli, who again after a lovely display against Liverpool failed to be convincing in keeping Beto quiet.

Even Florenzi still struggled a bit and didn’t bring a lot to the table. It’s quite evident at this point that Calabria is needed on that right flank in order to get Alexis Saelemaekers going as well with the two having good chemistry. The same goes for Theo as he struggles when Rebic or Leao are injured, failing to make the same impact he usually does, but the time for excuses is over.

2. Toothless and clueless

With Leao, Rebic and Giroud all out injured, Milan’s attack is struggling to produce goals. Brahim Diaz has three goals and three assists this season, but after Covid-19 he has been a mere shadow of the player he was in the first few fixtures.

Saelemaekers and Krunic are simply not the type of players that rack up goals and assists while Ibrahimovic clearly can’t create chances on his own as much as he might try with his flick-ons and knock-downs.

Junior Messias has had a couple of decent performances, but also is struggling at the moment and the management needs to address this in January, before it gets worse for the team. The only positive now is that without the Champions League and after a good rest around Christmas, the squad could potentially recover some players and have less injuries due to having a less hectic schedule.

3. Duo disappoint again

Bakayoko continued to disappoint in the midfield, but this time Bennacer also joined him with a very poor display. The Algerian’s pass to the Frenchman caused the goal as both players didn’t seem to be focused in that particular moment.

Excluding that error, the two still had a woeful game in which they failed to moved to ball fast enough and make life hard for Udinese. Most of the passes were also sideways, lacking any sharpness as the two were unable to put pressure onto their hosts.

Tonali and Kessie looked significantly better in the second half, but with the lack of firepower in attack, the Rossoneri still struggled to turn around the game.

4. Knocking on the door

Daniel Maldini came on for 15 minutes towards the end of the game and was involved in the goal as he got an assist after his header ended up around Zlatan with the Swede getting his goal after an acrobatic effort from six yards out.

With Brahim Diaz struggling to produce… well, anything at this point – the moment might be right right time for Pioli to give Daniel Maldini a bit more playing time. The youngster started preseason off well and played a couple of games, but hasn’t been involved a lot as of late.

With injuries and players struggling for form it looks like Pioli doesn’t have much to lose if he decided to field the youngster and nobody would really blame him.

5. Elephant in the room

Ibrahimovic was the man to save the day yet again, but that doesn’t mean he had a perfect game prior to the goal. Here’s the thing: with a player like Zlatan, at the age of 40, Milan either need strong players behind him, that can create chances for him and the Swede clearly still can put those at the back of the net, or they need a younger striker that can create a bit more for himself and impose himself more in the game to compensate for the lack of quality behind him.

The management needs to make a decision as Pellegri hasn’t worked out and Giroud continues to battle physical problems. Zlatan can score goals, we know that by now because he is top scorer again, but he needs some help.

READ MORE: Tonali reveals what ‘hurts the most’ after draw against Udinese but admits Scudetto remains the target

Tags AC Milan Udinese-Milan


  1. One thing about Saelemaekers: a player who plays that position and isn’t the type of player that racks up goals and assists, in all honesty, what the hell do you want him on your team for??

    1. Thats not the problem.

      The problem is Saladmaker is certainly not bad but is forced to play in position he is weak in. As a midfielder he is good.

      Same with Ibra – he needs a second mobile striker, not ACM. Brahim is too far from him but needs to be deeper to create chances. Thus our lines do not link up.

  2. I think the articles assesment is spot on – either we need a way more mobile striker that can do more with nothing or some proper support for Ibra. I would still argue that Ibra is still, despite his age, without doubt “good enough” for this team. Bring a AMC that he can actually create some combination plays with and its in the bag. My fear is the club overpays for a player like Vlahovic or Belotti in the summer and we finish 6th-8th next season.

    1. Zlatan has the best “goals per minutes” ratio in Serie A top scorers so there shouldn’t even be a discussion whether his too old or not. He needs better players beside him.

  3. Maldini in a few minutes did more than the whole Milan squad had done up to that point. He stole the ball in midfield, then got the header in the box for Ibrahimovic to score.

    I would start him over Diaz in the next match, and I know it’s Napoli, and I don’t care if he fails, I just don’t want to see Diaz on the pitch anymore. Horrible player. He’s been terrible for many games recently and is just weaker than my 90 year old grandma.

  4. It is really disappointing to see Brahim perform so poorly and inconsistently, but I am strongly convinced that it is partly due to the fact that he played on quite a few occasions with players whose creative powers are close to nill (Krunic, Bakayoko, and Bennacer). That left him essentially alone and an easy target for opponents. How can you field Bennacer, Bakayoko, and Krunic at the same time and expect that the team will create scoring opportunities or provide assists to Zlatan? In the absence of Rebic and Leao our attacking versatility, unpredictability and speed become on par with those of lower Seria A teams. I hope Pioli learns the lesson from the last game. We have done all we could to make life easy for Inter and now they are on top of the table. I am really disgusted by the idea of having Inter win scudetto second time. Pioli can no longer complain that his players are too tired since we will essentially have only 1 game per week from now on. If we don’t win scudetto, I will consider it a failed season.

    1. Absolutely.

      Blame the system.

      Kessie = Pioli consistently moved him more and more defensively since beginning. Can only create when Baka is on the field and he is free to move forward. Insane.

      Saelemakers = good midfielder, bad winger

      Ibra = ok you play long balls to him. Even if he wins one, by the time wingers or acm can get there Ibra gets 3 defenders on him

      Brahim = to create he needs to track back as we only create on side thru this wide overload. So then unless he dribbles past his 2 guys he cannot link with Ibra.

      Romagnoli = funny moment during Liverpool game. Pioli wants all to rotate positions constantly, so when we lost a ball and Liverpool began counterattack Romagnoli was in the midfield on the left as 5th last player. Team had to defend without him, and im sure his defensive skills are higher than Bennacer or Krunic.

      System worked last season. THIS SEASON – it does not. If you watched games you had to see even if we are high up in the table, weve been lucky in many fames – on Saturday it was another miracle.

      But the system starts to be confusing to us not our opponents.

  5. Guys dont hope to get a young striker until Ibra is looking cool. Bcz a young striker doesnt has the experience to handle such games. Ibra has the experience and seems quite cool in goalscoring. 1 in 3 oppurtunities isnt bad and those oppurtunity were not ez. He also assisted much. Hes working so much in your attacking department. And rebic is gonna come another attack bonus. The issue is RW, AM, LW bcz of injuries. We were best at LW but unfortunate. Much is also much is proved. Theo played good bcz of rebic. Sal used calabria’s help and now is using kalulu. Brahim has no one on his back and u can see how badly he handles his position. I hope milan will be different after january but our foocus is midfield and defence. We need to buy lb, CAM if daniel proves then mhm, we have four midfielders and 3 of them are trash so we literally cant build up how would u score. The role of Pioli seems quite shaky. He says the right things in interview but not to his players. They need to play inter style. Simply going ezily passing passing than some flick ons (which romelu used to do) and ibra is good at it so milan would create great oppurtunity. Milan need to work as team not being like attack needs attack defense needs to defend. There are some weaknesses of your opponents. Some like attack some defend. So our departments need to shift work against defensive team we need our more contribution of Left and right flank and more crosses or long shots. Also pioli needs to explain that u need to use “lob passes” to shift wings. Yo u need to be tactical to create something. U need both the wings active.

    1. Thing with inter style, is that they have two good strikers, both fast. Agree ibra can definitely do lukaku’s job, but we no other fast centre forwards, next year though, imagine 352

    2. Thing with inter style, is that they have two good strikers, both fast. Agree ibra can definitely do lukaku’s job, but we no other fast centre forwards, next year though, imagine 352, maignan
      Tomori, botman, kjaer,
      Hernandez, sanches, tonali, faivre/kamara/bennacer, Calabria/kalulu
      Ibra, vlahovic/Giroud/other
      That world be great

  6. Napoli match is all that matters if we lose we are in top 4 race. So i hope we get rid of brahim try daniel. If i see this only or u guys also that all the bad performances of kessie come at the san siro? Does he hate the stadium? Kindly pass a comment. Unfortunately or wingers are trash and we no other choice les try samu and messias. They might prove to be lil good.

  7. Ok well les not waste money on lb bcz we have kalulu he should go there. We need to work with budget also :D. Which is getting worsened buy 10 year old players.

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