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Milan's Striker Situation Compared To the Best In The Serie A

Milan's strikers have been struggling all season, scoring only 12 goals in 15 games. There are numbers that prove their problems.

Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

It's a fact AC Milan striker have been struggling all season—not only against Carpi—and clearly underperforming compared to what the management and the fans expected from them. There have been injuries, tactical changes and bad luck but their poor production, as proved by their 12 goals in 15 games. Milan has scored 19 total goals, ranking eighth in the Serie A.

With Milan's struggles, here is a look at the production of Carlos Bacca, Luiz Adriano and the other Milan strikers compared to Gonzalo Higuain, Citadin Eder and Nicola Kalinic, who are currently the top three scorers in the league, looking at their 90 minutes statistics.

Passing game and touches

Starting from the bases of the offensive play, every striker needs to touch the ball as much as possible to maximize his scoring chances. That is the first critical point for the Rossoneri, even if it's not necessarily the strikers' fault. In effect, Bacca and Adriano, who are Milan's most used forwards, respectively make 20.6 and 18.2 passes per 90 minutes. That's far less than Higuaín, Éder and Kalinić, who pass the ball 28.6, 26.4 and 23.8 times, respectively. Milan needs to get the ball to its strikers more.

Milan's best forward in this statistical area is clearly Mario Balotelli, with 36.3 passes per 90 minutes and 0.71 completion rate. While that is only over the course of four matches, his return to the pitch will be important for Milan, especially if he will be able to play together with M'Baye Niang who has played well recently.

Ball protection and dribbling ability

Bacca, Niang and Balotelli are a complete disaster when they have to protect the ball from their opponents. Respectively, they turn the ball over five, seven and 5.6 times per 90, due to bad control or being dispossessed, while their Brazilian teammate only turns the ball over 2.9 times per 90 minutes and the Kalinić-Higuaín-Éder trio averages 3.5. Again, bad passes or bad spacing may lead to turnovers and that's definitely the case for the Rossoneri, as is proved by their offensive performances during the season.

What about dribbles? Among the players who try at least two dribbles per 90 minutes, Bacca has the worst rate, successfully completing just 1.1 over 2.6 tries. Niang and Balotelli both succeed in 0.5 of their dribbles, just a bit better than Éder with 0.47, but definitely worse than Gonzalo Higuaín who has an absurd 0.64 completion rate. Once again, Bacca shows that he's not good enough at protecting the ball, while Adriano and Kalinić do a great job at keeping possession of the ball.

Shooting and finishing

A striker's main assignment is scoring or, at least, shooting. Milan's forwards take 12.1 shots per 90 minutes, while Higuaín takes 5.5 on his own, proving that the offensive struggles are caused by the poor amount of attempts and consequently by their quality. In effect, Milan's chances of scoring can't be high if their strikers combine for 5.2 shots on target, and especially if Bacca and Adriano are not able to shoot on target more than once over a 90-minute span. Comparing to the top three scorers in the league: Higuaín puts 2.3 of his attempts on target, Kalinić 1.6 (3.2 total), Éder 1.2 (3.1 total).

Niang is statistically Milan's most efficient forward in terms of goals per 90 minutes with 0.6 as a proof of his good moment after the foot injury suffered at the end of the summer. Bacca, who hasn't scored for 360 minutes, still has 0.5 goals per 90, and both Balotelli and Adriano have a rate of 0.4. These are not great averages compared to Higuaín's huge 1.0, Kalinić's 0.8 and Éder's 0.7, even weighting on the amount of shots the Rossoneri take per 90 minutes. As a consolation, Bacca's 0.5 scoring average corresponds to an incredible 0.56 conversion rate, even better than Napoli's Higuaín (0.43), and Bacca could be more productive with more touches and better chances to score than he has had this year.

As is clear from the data above, Milan's offensive struggles seem to be caused both by forwards' lack of ability at protecting the ball and midfielders' problems at creating a good chances for them so the return of a creative and skilled player like Balotelli could help the team at improving this aspect of the game, but there's still a lot to work on for Mihajlović.