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Behind The Game: What Worked Well for Milan (And What Didn't) in Derby Loss to Inter

The derby is the best match Milan has played so far this season, but it looks like there are still a couple things that could be fixed.

Ignazio Abate receives a yellow card during the Derby Della Madonnina Sunday.
Ignazio Abate receives a yellow card during the Derby Della Madonnina Sunday.
Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Losing the Derby della Madonnina is tough. Losing when you play better than your opponent is even tougher. Losing when put on your best performance of the season is devastating.

Despite the understandable disappointment with the final result, Milan should be quite happy its performance against Inter Sunday night. There is still improvement needed, however. This is what worked and what did not during the derby.

Accuracy & Finishing

This is something that definitely needs improvement, but Milan put three shots on goal Sunday, nearly matching its season output, which is now seven. However, the Rossoneri are still far from doing a decent job in front of the goalkeeper, since their accuracy was below 20 percent against Inter (19 shots and only three on target) and their average is 22.5 percent in this first three games of the season.

If accuracy needs an improvement, what about the conversion rate (goals scored/shot on target)? It looks like a joke, but, statistically, Milan has been great at scoring whenever it could, and its 0.286 rate is proof of this statement. However, that statistical voice is a bit tricky due to the small sample of games played so far, so it's worth looking at the goals/shots ratio and that's a disappointing 0.061. This is probably due to the huge amount of shots taken from outside the box during these first three matches (13 yesterday), proving that Milan has some problems getting into the box, where they have scored twice.

Ball possession & Turnovers

Milan played an average game Sunday, considering the ball possession (49 percent), but the positive thing about the Derby della Madonnina was its ability to move the ball to create advantageous situations. It seems that the Rossoneri finally found the way to be productive, not only with counterattacks but even by taking advantage of their quick and skilled strikers. For that reason, Milan used a lot of long balls (18 percent of the passes) to find Luiz Adriano, Carlos Bacca or Mario Balotelli in the attacking third of the field, and then play the ball short to the midfielders and the two fullbacks. Also, 83 passes of Milan's passes were forward, not lateral, and that's a great improvement compared to last season.

On the other hand, this kind of play could lead to a lot of turnovers and it's exactly what happened yesterday during the derby. In effect, Milan lost the ball 36 times (Inter only 19), despite 80 percent passing accuracy, and it's not casual if Fredy Guarin scored just after an error in the offensive half of the field.


Good news even for the weakest part of Milan's game: the duo formed by Alessio Romagnoli and Cristián Zapata played well against two forwards like Stevan Jovetić and Mauro Icardi, and didn't let them play easily the entire match. Zapata did a great job at marking Inter's captain while Romagnoli showed why he was worth 25 million euros this summer by covering well his area and rapidly playing the ball to Montolivo. The fact the goal was not due to an error by the defenders is another good sign for the future of this young defense.