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Tactical Review of Milan’s tumble out of the Europa League at the hands of Olympiacos

Milan bomb of the Europa League in rather poor fashion

AC Milan v Olympiacos - UEFA Europa League - Group F Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Milan Knew What They Needed

Going into the game, AC Milan knew all their options. The could win, lose or draw and still qualify just not by a 2+ goal margin. So in a very Milan-like fashion, we found ourselves in the single scenario that gets us relegated from a group stage that included a mid table Spanish side, a Greek heavyweight and semi-pro European first timers from Luxembourg. Milan deserved to exit the campaign as we would have been pelted down by literally any other competition in the next round. Many rossoneri fans are getting angry with these criticisms, however, Milan were just not good enough to get out of the Europa League Group Stage.

Zapata with an Uneven Performance

Cristian Zapata put in a strange shift. He scored an own goal, then got a goal back for Milan. His defence was average as it has been since he replaced Mateo Musacchio, however he needed to step up against Olympiacos and just did not deliver. Zapata was tasked with calming the backline and commanding the defence as the only natural centre-back but he demonstrated his lack of grit. He is a decent player but is not anywhere near the calibre of a Milan CB as he cannot find consistency and his performances are always polarising.

Higuain is Disappointing

There honestly isn’t much to say about Gonzalo Higuain at this point. He looks slow out of possession and looks tired in possession. He is wasting open chances and not creating space as expected. More disturbingly he is constantly taking shots from the edge of the box and outside the box when there is no clear angle thus wasting attacks. There have been many rumours stating that Milan will not take up his option and currently I would not object to that. Higuain still has just over half the season to go to revive his form and make a real consistent contribution to Milan. All Higuain needs to do for Milan is score every 2 or so games and the team would easily have an extra 12 points in all competitions.

Calhanoglu has been a Flop

It is truly a mystery to see what happened to Hakan Calhanoglu. He ended last season very strongly, thus exciting Milan fans for the new season. However, he has been abysmal. Calhanoglu is looking lethargic and short of ideas. Perhaps his biggest issue is his demeanour that constantly resembles a player who has already given up on the match. Gennaro Gattuso needs to bench him, he is struggling at LW and he completely bombed this week as a LM. Milan need to either invest in the left wing of give chances to the existing players on the roster as the left side of the attack is all but numb and ineffective which is costing our ability to create good chances in the final third.

Defensive Shambles

Milan have conceded more from set pieces in the past two seasons than I can count and this problem persists. The first goal should have been avoided as the defence fell asleep on the short corner, and thereafter the players could not clear the ball. Ignazio Abate put in some strong tackles as did Zapata, however both looked slow and uneasy all night and that led to nervy defending and to the indecisiveness that doomed us. Zapata’s own goal was just some terrible luck, but the poor positioning and inability to track back in time really put the current defensive shake-up into question.

Lastly, Milan as a team never looked like they were going to win the game or even compete with Olympiacos. The drive and passion was missing and the club has paid a hurtful and embarrassing price for the errors of the current squad.

As always, Forza Milan!