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Tactical Review of Milan’s Wasteful Draw vs Atalanta

Milan almost put away Atalanta put caved under pressure. Here we take a look at the pros and cons from the fixture.

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

AC Milan fumbled a win at home against Atalanta once again dropping points where the team could have capitalised. The overall football is improving but here I look at where the team needs to improve to secure critical points.

Attackers are Adapting

Suso turned up against Atalanta providing two sublime assists for Milan’s two goals and could have easily had two more if not for offsides and clinical finishing. Last week we noted the need for Gonzalo Higuain to attack the back post where Suso and Samu Castillejo like to put in crosses but we save the opposite adapting where Suso put balls into the front post where Higuain lingers and it worked like a charm. It is very good to see the attackers adapting and playing to each others’strengths, this chemistry is key going forward and can unlock more goals for us. One of the major tactical successes thus far has been Giacomo Bonaventura attacking crosses leading to a few offside goals and hopefully more goals in the coming games.

Poorly Timed Substitutions

Two games prior myself and others praised Gattuso for his game winning substitutions against AS Roma; ever since he has not made the best changes. Against Atalanta I found the substitutions to be poorly timed more than anything due to his limited options. Ignazio Abate came on for Davide Calabria in the 67th minute as he had been booked and was struggling with Gomez. Tiémoué Bakayoko replaced Bonaventura in the 75th while Castillejo replaced Hakan Calhanoglu in the 85th. In my opinion Calhangolu had an awful game and should have come off second for Castillejo to add an edge up front and possibly hunt for another goal. Bakayoko could have replaced Bonaventura at the 85th minute to shore up the defence late. Bakayoko coming on slowed down the midfield and invited more pressure thus when Castillejo came on he was ineffective as there was no room to attack and he is not sound defensively.

Rodriguez MOTM

Accurate vertical balls, Good crosses, Stellar defending, Strong in possession, Quick distribution, Electric runs forward and Clever play switching. Ricardo Rodriguez has been very impressive this season and has been impactful in the squad. He has received his fair share of criticism in the previous season but he has put in a solid shift thus far. He has connected with the system and is playing a vital role in ensuring the possession based football brand comes together by bailing out Alessio Romagnoli and Mateo Musacchio from high pressing and starting attacks through the vertical balls or switching of play. On the defensive end he has made several key tackles, interceptions and is positioning himself very well to halt attacks. Most importantly he made a fantastic goal line clearance, Rodriguez is a force to be reckoned with this year.

Lack of Concentration over 90-min

With every passing game Milan seem extremely vulnerable in the first 15 minutes and last 15 minutes of the game. Milan should have won the game but struggled to put the game away and then struggled with the increased pressure in the second half. The major issue seems to be a lack of concentration and a nervousness when under pressure. The defence do not seem comfortable when defending in the box from crosses, set pieces or just regular attacks. This can be observed in the difficulty of players to clear their lines and the number of balls that roll across the box during the game. Gattuso needs to inject some confidence into the backline as we are yet to have a clean sheet in Serie A and this could potentially expedite Mattia Caldara into the starting XI when he is healthy.

Milan Need Composure and Drive

The play above was heartbreaking to watch. This should have been a goal, Bakayoko did not drive up the pitch and wasted a golden opportunity when he had Higuian and Suso ahead of him. Franck Kessie missed a fantastic chance in the first half and Bonaventura was called offside. Milan has a handful of other fantastic chances through Suso, Higuain an even a Lucas Biglia from distance but the squad lacks a clinical touch and the composure to put a game to bed. Milan lost from a winning position against Napoli, we did not take advantage to overcome Cagliari and we settled for a draw whilst ahead at Atalanta. Those at least 5 dropped points in 4 rounds. This need to change and has to do with the mentality and belief of the squad. The team needs to respond strongly against Empoli and we have to play with grit.