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Post match analysis: breaking down Milan’s success as of late

How did the Ludogorets match differentiate from what we’ve seen in the past?

Spal v AC Milan - Serie A Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images

AC Milan didn’t want to risk in the road game against Ludogorets and decided to put an insurance on the qualification for the next round of Europa League winning for 0 - 3. Gennaro Gattuso confirmed almost the whole starting 11 of the last two weeks and Rossoneri show their best look scoring three goals. For each of them, we found a tactical key of the game.

High pressing

In the new Gattuso’s Milan it’s very common to recoil the team in the last twenty minutes in order to defend the result earned during the entirety of the match. Trying desperately to park the bus in front of the goal, the coach of the Rossoneri is teaching to the young guys the art of suffering. Against Ludogorets, “Ringhio” made a significant change in his game strategy showing A.C Milan has a strong team mentality: in the most difficult moment of the game, when the bulgarians were pushing the guests into their penalty box, Gattuso didn’t bring back their forwards but he leaved them ready for the high pressing. Even if not really efficient, cause it wasn’t well organized, holding Cutrone, Çalhanoğlu and Suso in their half, gave a very hard time to the two central defenders, suffering low skills in ball possession and lack of helps from midfielders. After risking a couple times to lose the ball and being forced to throw it in the Milan lap, Ludogorets struggled in play making and relinquished the penalty.

Great Subs

Another important key of the game, suggested by the growing of Gattuso as a manager, was in substitutions. In these advantage scenarios, the Rossoneri’s coach usually preferred to give a defensive setting to the team, actually helping the opponents: taking out the skillful player denies the chances to manage the ball in the other half of the pitch and at the same time gives possession and good pace to the rivals. Also, some of athletes coming off of the bench are always getting too close to their own area, not building the structure for an efficient fast-break. In this last case, Gattuso wisely selected André Silva in place of Cutrone: the Portuguese forward struggled all season to find his spot in the Milan attack but, for sure, in the last game, he got some appreciation for helping the team on the defensive end, interrupting the Cicinho play-making maneuvers. Borini, had the right approach against Ludogorets, filling Çalhanoğlu’s position and not moving in the defensive line as a winger. That helped to go easily on the counter. Last but most important, the comeback of Ricardo Rodriguez can be a huge upgrade for the Milan game. Calabria shows to be in a great shape but on the left wing can’t be dangerous crossing into the area, so he’s very often forced to stop his run and pass back the ball to Çalhanoğlu: the Abate substitution gives Calabria his favourite position - on the right - creates gravity on his person and takes off at least a man from Suso very busy marking. On the left, Rodriguez has still to learn how to behave with Jack and Çalha but he has the skills to give a great advantage to the game of Milan.

“El segna semper lü”

In Milan’s dialect, it means: “He’s the one who always scores”. Patrick Cutrone, coming from the Rossoneri’s Primavera, is replacing an investment as €81.5m of André Silva and Kalinic deals (salaries included) almost for free. The 19-year-old coming from Como has scored 12 goals, one every 104 minutes and after Nikola Kalinic injured for a couple weeks, he completely lifted off. Patrick is the perfect fit for Milan’s offense: having a great sense of position in the box and being able to cut with the right tempo, he’s really dangerous for those signature crosses on the near post by Suso and Çalhanoğlu. Coach Gattuso seems not interested in changing this starting eleven but with important matches coming in Serie A and the next Coppa Italia, it will be necessary try some new solutions for the offense. As he did for Çalha and Biglia, he also need to instill more confidence in Andrè Silva who is probably not having a great time: maybe, looking at his Porto experience, the ‘96 need more room for managing the ball and take advantage of his speed. Thinking about a Cutrone-Silva couple could be a good fit as a junction beetween forwards and midfielders