In "3 Up, 3 Down" we take a look at three positive and three negative takeaways from the last match. Here are the positives and negatives from Milan's 1-0 loss at Genoa.
1) Second Half Performance
After an unlucky goal conceded and a rather unjust sending off, Milan could have laid down and taken the loss. It's something that has happened regularly the last couple years. But to Milan's credit it came out of the tunnel in the second half determined to equalize, despite only having 10 men. If Milan started the game with the same determination and drive it played the second half with, this would have been a different game. If Andrea Bertolacci and Mario Balotelli converted one of their chances, or if Juraj Kucka had not skied his golden opportunity, this could have been a different ending, despite a lackluster overall performance.
2) Andrea Bertolacci
Making his return from injury, Bertolacci played well against his former club, especially in the second half. In the first half, Bertolacci was largely anonymous, through no fault of his own as the ball was concentrated on the right wing. In the second half, Bertolacci was a protagonist and showcased those impressive direct runs that were common at Genoa, but had not yet been showcased at Milan. Bertolacci appeared to take up a more attacking position in the second half, and based on the early results, Bertolacci looks like a good fit as a trequartista.
3) Balotelli's Discipline
In a game that saw 10 yellow cards handed out, Mario Balotelli did not receive one. That in itself is both a small miracle and an encouraging sign that all the talk about Balotelli's changed attitude is not simply rhetoric. Balotelli was hacked down a bunch of time by Genoa's defense and did not get rattled when the whistle did not favor him. Sooner than later talk of Balotelli's attitude, be it good or bad, will subside.
1) First Half Performance
Milan did not come out of the gate with the right mentality against Genoa. The Rossoneri were slow, uninspired and seemingly content with letting Genoa have as much possession as it wanted. It is becoming increasingly obvious that De Jong and Montolivo cannot play together. The two of them together make the midfield too slow and susceptible to penetrating runs by the opposition, which cuts through the midfield with ease. Milan has to start matches better going forward, especially on the road.
2) Nigel de Jong
Playing out of position on the right side of a midfield trio has correlated to a steep decline of form for De Jong. Against the Grifone, De Jong was awful. His poorly-timed slide tackle led to a free kick, which resulted in a Genoa goal. Going forward, De Jong was completely overmatched and lost the ball frequently. For the good of the team, De Jong must either play in front of the defense, or not play at all.
3) Cristian Zapata
After a couple of decent games Zapata turned back into a pumpkin Sunday. He looked shaky and unsure of himself throughout the match and came out on the wrong end of a couple of duels with Pavoletti. His big error was the errant pass that was intercepted by Genoa and sent them on a three-on-two break. Alessio Romagnoli was forced to commit a tactical foul to stop the break, which led to his second yellow card and will force him to miss next weekend's big match against Napoli. When Romagnoli is eligible to return in two weeks, Zapata might not be partnering him.