As I mentioned in my pre-match post, anything short of three points would have to come from a Milan mistake because Lecce lack the quality to really push a team like Milan. True to form a late corner kick off the post, which probably should have gone in, led to second corner from the opposite side and poor communication and a late mark from Nesta led to a very well taken Lecce goal from inside the box and two points dropped from AC Milan. Now let’s explore the rest of the match.
Possession is a funny thing, statistically speaking Milan often lead the battle against their opponents. The match against Lecce was absolutely no different, but a closer look at the possession, and what makes up good possession, tells a bit more about Milan on this day. Possession is often made of patience and good passing and in the first half Milan displayed neither. Instead, they forced balls in and through two to three defenders instead of simply passing back, switching play, and resetting the attack. They looked like a team that lacked talent and ideas on how to move the ball simply to break down a defense. Pato and Zlatan have yet to develop a true understanding and Flamini returning from injury was not sharp, albeit his passing never really is.
Defensively however, save for two minutes of utter stupidity, was solid. Abate turned in a near man of the match performance with great runs forward drawing comparisons to Cafu, and attack-stopping challenges drawing comparisons to Tassotti. He has really flourished in the position and making it hard to argue for a RB when he has become everything we need. Lecce was also unable to exploit Bonera choosing instead to attack the left flank and through the center, probably the only tactical mistake on the day by Gigi DiCanio.
The goal came from a moment of utter brilliance from Zlatan, otherwise the chances on the day were extremely limited.
Often times the only player Milan were pushing into the box was Seedorf, but the ball never really joined him because of Lecce’s supremely compact formation. Shots from distance were seemingly available but even those never found their target. Pato and Zlatan both needed to see the ball at their feet from around 25 meters out to be dangerous but it never really happened. Instead their insistence on threading the needle and not running at defenders was their undoing in the first half. The second half started much brighter with Pato really attacking the left flank very hard, but he was subbed and never had an opportunity to continue that momentum. A point I want to touch on further.
At the time Allegri brought on Cassano, many were expecting a substitution of Seedorf, but with a one goal lead I didn’t think adding an unfit Cassano was the best move in terms of balance. Allegri was probably looking to sub Seedorf as well but once the goal from Lecce came bringing on Strasser or Merkel was probably not the best of ideas when you are pressing for a second goal. Cassano did admirably well creating three very good chances in less than 25 minutes, but again finishing was a problem. It plagued fans and management so badly last season that Marco Borriello was run out of town, where he is finishing just about everything, wonder if a Zlatan witch-hunt is in order? He finished an amazing goal, but two late chances were far simpler and far more important for the two points.
A disappointing and frustrating draw to say the least, but not entirely surprising as Milan often struggle away to Lecce, and it doesn’t take a scientist to see the team is a bit out of form and out of sync. No surprise with the injuries and shifting of the first eleven, but with Nesta back healthy, Flamini returning, Cassano gaining match fitness and KPB on the horizon it is only a matter of time before this team is firing on all cylinders. Just have to keep getting something from matches and getting points in bunches sooner than later will help that dramatically. Back tomorrow with a tactics piece to discuss Milan’s toothless attack of late and the marking responsibilities of a corner kick.