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Tactical Review of Another Last Gap Milan Victory over Udinese

Milan stole a late victory against Udinese, we take a look at what the team is doing right to pick up such late victories.

Udinese v AC Milan - Serie A Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

AC Milan pick up an important 3 points on the road before they face Juventus in their biggest test in Serie A yet, here is the tactical breakdown.

Injury Crisis x Lack of Depth

Milan are currently on thin ice after the past two weeks that featured an extended run of games. Gonzalo Higuain getting benched in the first half with a back bruise demonstrated the shocking lack of depth in the squad in all positions. The game already saw the likes of Giacomo Bonaventura, Hakan Calhanoglu, Davide Caldara, Mattia Calabria and Lucas Biglia sidelined who all could have had a starting spot. These injuries are leading to Gennaro Gattuso employing different tactics and formations as well as a general lack of consistency for the players. Over the next week we have critical games against Real Betis and Juventus which will undoubtedly need reinforcements if Milan are to secure at least three points from the two games. Leonardo must work to reinforce the attackers, central midfield and wingers as there is no quality depth outside of the starting XI.

Romagnoli Bailing Us Out

Once again Alessio Romagnoli came to the rescue. We spoke about his exemplary captain’s performance against Genoa but against all odds he rose to the occasion at Udinese and truly has established himself as a legend. The importance of his goal cannot be understated as it was a bail out for a Milan team that looked to be lacking ideas, has lost Higuain and was simply skying shots from outside the boy. Romagnoli’s goal demonstrated a decisiveness that the attackers have lacked. Suso surprisingly passed twice in the box and did not take the shot rather gave the responsibility to a CB to finish from inside the area. These 6 points are critical and Milan are getting away with some average football with good results at the moment.

Bakayoko’s Role Emerges

Tiémoué Bakayoko has his first noteworthy game for Milan at Udinese. He did his job. He was not spectacular nor commanding but he did enough to match the physicality of the opposition and distributed the ball well to spur Milan forward. The most capturing part of his play was the ball recoveries where Bakayoko was exceptional in recovering the ball in excess of 7 times throughout the game hence he played a key role in in breaking up play and supporting Franck Kessie in dominating the midfield. The Kessie-Bakayoko pairing will be a mainstay until Biglia recovers hence Milanisti will have to rally around Bakayoko for the moment and hope he can deliver positive performances against strong technical midfields in the coming week.

Castillejo and Suso Wasteful

Suso and Samu Castillejo received some playtime together after a while and their cohesion is fantastic. The Spanish duo made Milan fierce on the counter as the dribbles forward and runs into the box are electric. The main grievance with them is the poor shots from outside the box as well as the tendency to shoot right at the keeper or to the near post. Specifically against Udinese Suso and Castillejo kept targeting the near post on multiple occasions when Scuffet was clearly comfortable here instead of opting for a far post shot. Moreover the lack of confidence and composure in front of goal is glaring as the duo constantly turned back when close to the box or waywardly wasted opportunities that were critical with Higuain out of the game.

Quick Turnover Play in 4-4-2

The key point to note with the 4-4-2 is the that two significant features of Milan going forward are immense speed and good turnover through short passes. However there is one major weakness that is lack of strength. The Udinese CBs were ramming into Milan’s wingers and attackers demonstrating the massive difference in strength and weakness in the air. Milan need to take advantage of the speed factor through Diego Laxalt, Suso and Castillejo to create more chances on the counter as this seems to be where Milan have the clearest opportunities on goal. Kessie’s passing has improved, Bakayoko’s distribtion was good, Laxalt and Castillejo drove the ball upfield, Patrick Cutrone’s movement pulled out defenders and Suso had a few wide open chances as a result. Milan should embrace the 4-4-2 but take their chances.

Most importantly, Bravo Romagnoli!

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