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Tactical Review of Milan’s Slip at Cagliari

Milan drew at Cagliari as the team struggled to take their chances and made an early defensive error to seal the game.

Cagliari v AC Milan - Serie A Photo by Enrico Locci/Getty Images

AC Milan fumbled a game that they should have won because of an early mistake. Here I breakdown what the team did well and where they should have done better. Milan are heading into their first week with three games and need to start rotating the squad.

Milan Not Handling Pressure Well

One of the major issues with the Milan squad of recent years is their inability to handle pressure. This became incredibly apparent when we came up against Arsenal in the Europa League last season where the team lost all winning momentum as they could not use the ball under all the pressing of a typical English club. We saw the same against Napoli in the opening loss and Milan’s collapsed at the start of the Cagliari game under pressure. Gattuso needs some calm in the squad and needs better outlets who can hold the ball under pressure and drive up the pitch if needed.

Defensive Shape

In the Roma game, many dumped praise of Milan’s defensive shape during the game noting a 4-1-4-1 in defence with high pressing in the midfield.This system collapsed against Cagliari with the long balls and the attacking pace. This is something that must be addressed as most provincial sides will put forth a similar approach and any solid defence in the league should be able to deal with it. Romagnoli and Musacchio do not seem to always be on the same page especially when tracking runs and on set pieces. Moreover Gattuso must play someone on the edge of the box to clear the danger on set pieces as we got stung by Fazio last time and almost conceded to Barella this game.

Frank the Tank

This may be biased but I have always thought Kessie was one of our best signings in recent years and he will grow into a remarkable presence. Kessie demonstrated his importance in the Cagliari game more than ever establishing his presence in the midfield breaking up play, distributing the ball and charging forward to spur attacks. He technically assisted Higuain’s first goal through a brilliant interception with his incessant pressing and kept possession numerous times through the same. Kessie has been an important starter and deserves more credit for continuously fulfilling his role in the squad.

Milan not Clinical

During the Cagliari game Milan strung together over 500 passes and took 14 shots on goal but only managed to score once. The chances included two sitters flung wide by Bonaventura, a handful of chances for Higuain, Suso’s usual edgy shots and a stunning Rodriguez volley. But Milan are not clinical. The attackers are often going for the extraordinary instead of the guaranteed finish and other times the players pass one too many times instead of taking on a shot. Given the style of play, when a chance presents itself Milan need to strike and not leave the fans with “What Ifs?”

Player Chemistry Needs Time

One prevalent issue that showed against Cagliari but Roma was the lack of chemistry of the squad. No one can be blamed for this as there are fresh faces and the issue seems to arise when the new signings are on the pitch. The communication of players like Bakayoko and Castillejo with the rest of the squad are wanting are leading to some wasted chances that Milan cannot afford. The team needs time to properly gel and integrate into the system, Calhangolu and Bonaventura noticeably struggled and made the team look lethargic with the misread plays. The more they play together the more they will make of their chances.

What tactical areas do you think Milan need to address before they take on Atalanta over weekend? Comment below!