AC Milan had a rollercoaster of a game where Dudelange surprised everyone taking a 2-1 lead in the 49th minute. The Rossoneri fought back are one step away from qualifying for the next round of the Europa League.
THAT tackle from Simic, amazing pic.twitter.com/kB4qtCOEp6— Isak Möller (@Isak_Moller) November 29, 2018
Simic for the *Near* Future
Stefan Simic had a positive debut for Milan. Simic played with heart and he was a towering presence in the Milan backline. This may be biased but it was good to see a pumped up Milan CB especially the intensity of his tackles and the unrelenting pressure he put on the opposition. Simic forced an own goal from a Hakan Calhangolu cross and could have won a penalty if the ball didn’t end up in the back of the net demonstrating the importance of CBs engaging during set pieces. One complaint has been the lack of goals from Milan’s CBs from set pieces and Simic can contribute in this regard. Overall Simic had a debut similar to those of Alessio Romagnoli, Patrick Cutrone and Manuel Locatelli that has an air of ‘cult hero’ all over it!
WATCH: Hakan with a great strike to make it 3-2! pic.twitter.com/lCz9hmWoHe— SempreMilan (@SempreMilanCom) November 29, 2018
Hakan Takes the Shot
After the Lazio game, I wrote about the need for Hakan to be decisive and take the shot after he bottled a golden opportunity. Against Dudelange Hakan was responsible for 4 goals and should have had a hat-trick. Hakan played much more decisively in the second half and scored a screamer from outside the box after taking the shot first-time. Thereafter he forced the two Dudelange own goals by playing dangerous balls into the box forcing a response from defenders and attackers alike. Hakan is finding his form and slowly becoming more influential in the final third. If Hakan can start putting in dangerous crosses and testing keepers with long shots in Serie A, our attack will become lethal.
Cutrone shining in Europa League pic.twitter.com/KQcTq67NLi— Italian Football TV (@IFTVofficial) November 29, 2018
Cutrone is Inzaghi
It is honestly uncanny how similar the playing styles, attitudes and effectiveness of Inzaghi and Cutrone are. Cutrone is by far not a technically gifted striker, his ball control is average but his positioning and finishing are sublime. More importantly Cutrone is adored by the fans and we have faith in him; something Inzaghi shared. The last similarity is his effectiveness, 4 goals in 4 games in the Europa League. Cutrone is a consistent performer for Milan and needs to keep up this momentum so he can top his 15 goal tally from last year. Cutrone has a great opportunity this season to play alongside Gonzalo Higuain but with less pressure than the previous campaign. This should give him the opportunity to develop and eventually be the undisputed No. 9 for us.
Spilling In Defence
One major issue for Milan that became obvious against Dudelange is the poor ability to clear the ball from the box. Cristian Zapata’s header against Lazio gifted them a 94th minute equaliser, similarly against Dudelange his inability to smack the ball out of harms way led to Turpel’s goal. This is a symptom of Lucas Biglia’s absence as he was the player who marshaled the edge of the box and got rid of loose balls. This role has not been well fulfilled with the 2 man midfield as no one is dropping deep enough to recover poor clearances. This needs to be addressed as the first goal from Stolz similarly arose from no Milan player being at the edge of the box to clear the the poor deflection making it 3 goals in 2 goals from spilled balls.
Milan Lack Quality Depth
Andrea Bertolacci and Alen Halilovic were given rare starts against Dudelange and neither lasted 60 minutes as Gattuso opted to replace them after Milan went down 2-1. Halilovic began the game positively with some good ball possession, solid passing and some decent crosses; however it seems like he got winded after half an hour and then disappeared and was no longer a factor going forward. Bertolacci on the other hand was quite disappointing, this was a game where he could prove himself but instead he was anonymous for the 58 minutes he was on the pitch. Bertolacci perhaps stood out more for his few strange mistakes like the odd loss of possession when he was not under pressure (video above). Overall some of the reserve players who should have made an impact missed the opportunity to do so.
Hakan delivery again, own goal again. pic.twitter.com/nVKqVbG6v6— Para (@Paracelsus) November 29, 2018
BONUS: Look at Simic's Passion
Watching the youth players like Simic, Cutrone and Davide Calabria fight for every ball, for every goal and celebrate small victories gives me faith that Milan will be back soon! Forza Milan!