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Match Analysis: Breaking down Milan’s victory over Sampdoria

Davide Calabria was one sensational piece of the puzzle

FC Crotone v AC Milan - Serie A Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

In the last game of Serie A, Rossoneri won a really important match against Sampdoria earning three precious points considering the busy agenda of the next month. Milan is unbeaten in 2018 and is growing with the hard work of coach Gennaro Gattuso who shows improvements in every aspect of the game. The team found solidity and great attacking solutions as well as a new, very young, leading actor in Davide Calabria.

Avoid playmaking

In a really rare Kessie-less A.C Milan game, Gattuso didn’t renounce to put a big filter beetween midfielders and defense: during his career, starting as a pure playmaker, Riccardo Montolivo has learned how to become a tackler but he always did it in a low position. The rossoneri’s coach kept Biglia in his natural role and asked the ex-Fiorentina to change his way to play, giving him the task to avoid the opponents playmaking. Cutrone, Montolivo and Bonaventura made a very well organized but strenuous pressing try to put a huge screen beetween the two central defenders and the three Sampdoria’s midfielders.

First, Cutrone screens Torreira only positioning in the right way and then attacks the ball. When the golden boy choses the side, the opposite milan midfielder - in this case Bonaventura but Montolivo did the same as well - has to avoid an easy pass through the lines, covering his zone and Barreto.

When Bonaventura run towards the other center back, Montolivo can easily mark the playmaker and Milan without losing solidity, forces Sampdoria to waste their possession. Coach “Ringhio” built a cage around the midfield and allowed Biglia to recover the leftovers, ready for the fastbreak. Also, having Montolivo moving into Biglia line, allowed rosseneri to take advantage of the double playmaking and feel more safe when the possession was starting from the goalkeeper. Brilliant improvement in case of no-Kessie

Hard working

In an interview made by Serie A Tim for the Coppa Italia final, Gennaro Gattuso talked about his approach to the game: “For 14 years I played in a midfield with Pirlo and Seedorf, I didn’t have their technique but i improved a lot during the years because I never stopped working in career. I wanted to reach the top and I always tought hard working always bring you to success”. Since the first revolution, when Gattuso needed to lose the first matches using the scapegoat of giving - succesfully - a good shape to the atheletes, now we can see the Milan’s new coach collecting achievements in new aspects of his game. A lot of the freekicks played in game are coming out of trainings and actually effective.

Here Bonaventura could easily score and give an early advantage to the team but most important is how the opportunity was built. Even the goal scored in offside by Bonucci was coming out of a freekick that surpised Sampdoria on the weak side and generally, every corner, when not directly kicked in the box, wasn’t extemporised.

Calabria taking off

Having now Ricardo Rodriguez, a natural left winger, available to play, allowed Calabria to back on his favourite spot - the right side - and being way more dangerous for the opponents’ defense. Thinking about the last matches, when he was put on the left wing because of necessity, even if in a great shape, Calabria wasn’t an actual threat: not being able to attack the endline because of his weak foot, the winger coming from Brescia was easily forced to pass back the ball or get the way of the area. Being on Suso’s side, gives rossoneri a huge upgrade in the offensive chances: in several times, when Davide Calabria was overlapping the spanish forward, he created room to attack the defender and brought less focus on the latter, giving him more time and space to decide how to react. Sampdoria defense decided to die for the lesser of the two evils and gave room to Calabria who hit the hand of Silvestre who relinquished the penalty and found perfectly Jack Bonaventura when he scored.

It can become case of matter how Suso and Çalhanoğlu very often changed side of the field in order to attack the Sampdoria on weak positioning. Taking advantage of their terrific skill, the two players very often moved through the midfield line, creating separation and perfectly passing the ball on the other wing. If it will be consistent for the next matches, it can become a huge threat for the opponents: just think that penalty and goal plays started from a 200 feet pass by Çalha ended up in Suso’s feet.