AC Milan blew their chance to cement 4th place for a third consecutive week and have lost their UCL spot in a 1-0 loss to Fiorentina. Here’s our tactical review of the game:
Gattuso’s Subs Killed the Game
Gennaro Gattuso came through with the perplexing substitutions again. Jose Mauri was having a decent run and even took a threatening shot right before he came off, but he was replaced by Patrick Cutrone leaving no natural midfielders on the pitch. The substitutions brought on were Diego Laxalt and Cutrone and it altered Milan’s formation from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2. Milan were playing some really good football before the changes and looked like the could get a goal with the likes of Suso and Hakan Calhanoglu taking on shots and allowing Gonzalo Higuain space to move. The switch left Milan vulnerable defensively and brought back the ineffective 4-4-2 that pulled Suso and Calhanoglu further away from danger zones leaving Higuain and Cutrone isolated. This is where Milan lost the game.
Rodriguez is Fantastic and a Model for the Squad
Ricardo Rodriguez delivered another spectacular performance and has been the most consistent performer this season. He played a stunning 90 minutes against Fiorentina and there were many positives for him despite the loss. Rodriguez had better chances on goal than our entire attack. His thunderbolt of a strike from distance stung Alban Lafont and his looping header almost pulled Milan level. He was the only player who was visibly putting pressure and driving forward, and he was the only player who looked for the win and played with passion. The squad needs to emulate Rodriguez and try to be more consistent as poor runs of form are killing Milan’s ambition for the season.
Calabria was perplexed after Gattuso made the subs that changed the formation to a 4-4-2 and asked Gattuso "Do you really want to put me in the 2-man midfield?" Gattuso responded: "yes yes"— TheMilanBible (@TheMilanBible) December 22, 2018
[via Sky] pic.twitter.com/saZb6FrS6t
Makeshift Midfield Did Well
Davide Calabria filled in admirably in the midfield, he did well to push the play forward and supported Ignazio Abate and Suso to keep the right wing threatening to Fiorentina. Calabria played in some good crosses and his vertical passes were piercing. Although he did well he needs to improve his passing and his defensive awareness as he is always forced to make tackles where good positioning could have done the job. Mauri performed well and distributed the ball fantastically before he was subbed off, he did enough to keep the midfield functioning and even had a good volley that almost deflected in. The pair worked well with Calhanoglu and performed well enough as a makeshift unit and Gattuso should not have switched formation.
I was initially excited by Castillejo’s signing but his one real physical flaw is getting exposed. He’s the most slender player I’ve seen and Serie A defenders keep barging into him the second he gets the ball. Too easily dispossessed as he can’t absorb any contact.— Matteo Bonetti (@TheCalcioGuy) December 23, 2018
What does Castillejo add to the team?
I do not want to be overly harsh on the Spaniard but it is unclear what value he adds to the team. Samu Castillejo is supposed to be quick and tricky capable of attacking the goal and putting balls into the box but in his appearances he has done neither. Many people made a case for his starting spot but he is anonymous on the pitch and is constantly dispossessed with ease. This is a major issue and against Fiorentina a struggling Calhanoglu very clearly outperformed Castillejo in every aspect as he had better chances on goal, put more balls into the box and contributed to build up play more significantly. Milan desperately need a winger to supplement Suso as having no challenge on the left is hurting the team.
3 - AC Milan haven’t found the net in three consecutive Serie A games for the first time since November 2001. Lack. #MilanFiorentina— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) December 22, 2018
Milan Have No Teeth
We have not scored in over 270 minutes in the league. This is a squad spearheaded by Higuain who is perhaps the most prolific Serie A goalscorer over the past five years. The attack also has Cutrone who is a clinical attacker who is on track to his second double-digit record in his second season. So what is going wrong? Milan have a crisis on their hands. Milan have scored only 1 regular goal in the league in December and have only scored 4 goals in the entirety of November and December (7 games) in the league with only 1 from a striker. The facts speak for themselves, something isn’t working.
Who is Most Responsible for Milan’s Poor Form?
This poll is closed
The Strikers (Higuain & Cutrone)
The Attacking Mid (Suso/Calhanolgu/Castillejo)
The Defending Mid (Kessie/Bakayoko)