In their first ever meeting in Serie A, Milan drew 0-0 away to minnow Carpi in a hard-fought encounter that puts Milan in a precarious position as the winter break approaches.
The inconsistency and mental weakness that have become hallmarks of Milan in recent times returned to haunt the club yet again.
A scrappy first-half performance in which Milan struggled to assert itself saw the Rossoneri pegged back by a plucky and determined Carpi side. Right from the kickoff, Carpi pushed forward, harassing Milan and forcing the visitors into unnecessary mistakes. Milan's inability to retain possession of the ball saw it on the back foot almost immediately, as Carpi moved through the gears, passing the ball around with an enviable degree of confidence and fluency. Anxiety set in for Milan, who seemed unable to deal with the directness of Carpi's attacking play. The Rossoneri found themselves regularly forced into uncomfortable positions defensively, as well as childlike errors of judgement.
Marco Borriello eagerly exploited the space left down the right hand side by Ignazio Abate, who was continually caught out of position in the first half. This in turn, made life difficult for both Alex and Alessio Romagnoli who were often dragged out wide to deal with the threat. But whenever Carpi did find a way through, Gianluigi Donnarumma stepped up to deny the hosts. His performance was perhaps the one true positive from the match, as he carried out his duties admirably, most notably batting clear a thunderous strike from Lorenzo Lollo in the first half to keep the scoreline level.
The second half saw Milan enjoy the lion's share of possession, as Carpi dropped deeper to try and defend the draw. However Milan was unable to threaten the Biancorossi with any regularity. Giacomo Bonaventura did his best to create chances for his teammates, putting in a bigger effort than Carlos Bacca, M'Baye Niang and Alessio Cerci combined. Bonaventura was continually let down by their profligacy in the final third.
Cerci turned in yet another poor performance on the right flank. His build-up play was predictable and his finishing even worse. Niang had several opportunities but was similarly wasteful, whilst Bacca again remained isolated up top. After netting six goals in his first 11 Serie A matches, the Colombian hitman is now without a goal in four appearances. He is sorely in need of one to address his poor run of form before it turns into a full-blown goal drought.
Sinisa Mihajlovic had no solution to Milan's wastefulness in the final third, his only change was to bring on Luiz Adriano midway through the second half. He also failed to break the deadlock. That nearly changed in the dying minutes of the match as Milan was awarded a late corner. Bonaventura whipped a wonderful ball into the box for Juraj Kucka, whose header would have sealed it, but for Vid Belec, who pulled off a remarkable one-handed stop to deny him. For some, this might all amount to bad luck, but there's no excuse for not scoring those chances, and that one summed things up for Milan. Losses to sides like Juventus and Napoli are one thing, but if Milan can't even beat the likes of Carpi, it offers little hope of even qualifying for the Europa League come next June, let alone the Champions League.
Once again, Milan have fallen victim to the plucky underdog. Carpi's belief and determination was enough to see off the threat of Milan, who in past seasons would have beaten a team like Carpi with consummate ease. It's hard not to view this as two points dropped, and it's imperative Milan perform better over the next month to rack up some points prior to a tough January run that will see the Rossoneri face Roma, Fiorentina and Inter in the span of a few weeks. Failure to do so could see Milan in a tough position toward the business end of the season.