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Tactical Review of Milan's Overdue 2-1 Victory against SPAL

Milan finally score a goal & pick up a much-needed win

AC Milan v SPAL - Serie A Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Donnarumma with the Save

Gigio came through with an incredible reflex save in the 93rd minute of the game that ensured AC Milan took all three points against SPAL. Through the poor run of form, Donnarumma has silently regained his form and accumulated 3 clean sheets in the last 5 league games only conceding twice from a Federico Chiesa screamer and a wicked Alessio Romagnoli deflection. Gigio has been instrumental in ensuring that our goalscoring drought was not met with losses thus we can attribute each point in the unfortunate draws to him. Moreover, Cristian Zapata and Tiémoué Bakayoko deserve shoutouts for their incredible defensive contributions that have allowed Milan to look solid at the back and limit the goals conceded through commanding performances.

Gattuso Nailed the First Set of Subs

Gennaro Gattuso has had a hard time with his substitutions and part of the problem is the lack of quality on the bench, however against SPAL he nailed it. Davide Calabria and Patrick Cutrone injected pace and pressure into the game for Milan that almost immediately led to the winning goal. Calabria replaced Ignazio Abate and brought his pace and direct attacking to catch SPAL out and put in a lovely cross, Cutrone replacing Samu Castillejo spilt the three-man SPAL defence creating space for Hakan Calhanoglu to run into the back post and Higuain to be covered by only one CB. The substitution worked like a charm and Gattuso deserves credit for this. On the other hand, Gattuso inexplicably took off Higuain for Fabio Borini, and that could have been a costly error with the late SPAL attacks and Borini’s mistakes.

Good Performance on the Wing

Suso and Castillejo looked lively on the wings and threatened SPAL’s three man defence with menacing runs. The constant pressure in the first half looked like Milan’s best run of play in weeks and the attacking sequences looked cohesive until the final pass that was still lacking. However the crosses provided some dangerous chances for the attackers and eventually led to the Castillejo goal where the more direct approach of the wingers paid off. Moreover, Calhanoglu played incredibly well when Milan shifted to the 4-4-2 and provided a critical weighted assist to Higuain to break the deadlock ensuring the Milan victory. The wingers need to be more decisive and deliver in key moments as this alters the game i.e. Castillejo had a pretty average game but he got a key goal from an engaged performance in the first half.

Calhanoglu Looked like a Threat

Calhanoglu had a fantastic game and that was nowhere near his best form. The difference in attitude and delivery carried a downtrodden Milan to victory. Calhanoglu presented an extra threat from the midfield and delivered an assist at a critical moment. He looked more confident taking on shots and hitting the target or at least giving the keeper a scare. Moreover his passing and switching of play was brilliant. Hakan delivered amazing passes from the left wing to the right wing opening up play and allowing for quick transitions up the field.Having attacking threats on both the left and the right is key to unlocking Milan’s potential as Suso get locked out more often than not. Hakan needs to build on this performance and pull a comeback similar to last season.

Team Lacks Discipline

Milan responded well to going behind as they have on numerous occasions this season. However when Milan went ahead the team’s composure went out the window. The defence looked brittle and the possession play got sloppy. Gattuso’s substitution did not help and the players got nervous. Although the referee was definitely unreasonable toward Milan, the players should have known better, especially Suso. A silly red card that increases our anxiety over the Coppa game against Sampdoria or the Supercoppa against Juventus. Milan really need to work on their nerves and have to learn how to kill off games, especially against bottom table sides. The team needs discipline and composure if we are to keep up any challenge for a UCL spot.

Overall, we have gotten to the middle of the season and sit in 5th place only 1 point away from a UCL spot despite an horrifying run of form. I believe this demonstrates that Milan can still lock down that 4th place with a few smart transfers and the team rediscovering their winning spirit.


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