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Tactical Review of Milan's Extra Time Victory at Sampdoria in the Coppa

AC Milan beat Sampdoria in a lethargic match in the Coppa Italia Round of 16 following a stunning Cutrone brace in extra time.

UC Sampdoria v AC Milan - Coppa Italia Photo by Paolo Rattini/Getty Images

AC Milan beat Sampdoria in a lethargic match in the Coppa Italia Round of 16 following a stunning Cutrone brace in extra time.

Cutrone with Some Attitude

Patrick Cutrone is well on his way to being Milan’s top scorer for the second season in a row and looks likely to top his 15 goal tally. Cutrone came off the bench in the 91st minute and bagged a stunning brace both on the counter attack. Cutrone tapped in two cool finishes from crosses from either wing and brought the crowd to their feet with his passionate celebrations. The youngster outshone Gonzalo Higuain with an incredible 30 minute display in extra time to cap the second consecutive year where his scored for Milan in the Coppa Round of 16. Cutrone is making a case to take time away from Higuain as long as he can keep the right attitude.

Gattuso Got The Subs Right

Gennaro Gattuso got the subs right against Sampdoria, he brought in Andrea Conti for Ignazio Abate at the right time to inject some pace into the counterattack and most importantly he replaced a struggling Samu Castillejo with Cutrone who delivered the goods. Gattuso made proactive changes during the game pushing for a goal and taking off Paqueta for Fabio Borini to ensure he doesn’t get injured after the handful of scares as well as giving him space to rest before the Juventus game. Gattuso looks certain to stay until the end of the season and will need to have improvements in his in-game management to ensure he can guide them to a Champions League spot.

Reina Delivered In a Big Way

Pepe Reina came through against Sampdoria with incredible saves that kept Milan in the game. Reina turned back the clock and pulled off some reflex saves and kept out some close range shots from Fabio Quagliarella. Reina did well to marshal the defense and keep the backline disciplined demonstrating his experience. Perhaps his biggest contribution to the game was his distribution from the back that allowed Milan to turn around play quickly. Reina’s speed in giving the ball out and kickstarting the counter attack directly led to the second goal where he opened up Hakan Calhanoglu to drive forward. Reina will be a key player in the Coppa and to help Gigio Donnarumma develop further, thus it is encouraging to see him put in strong performances.

Midfield is Transforming

The midfield is transforming with the arrival of Lucas Paqueta who had a positive debut. Paqueta did not achieve much in his first game but he showed his potential and looked like he is well on his way to adapting to Serie A. Paqueta looked to be integrating well with the midfield and seemed to adopt a creative role in the centre of the park allowing flexibility for a change of wings as well. The game allowed Franck Kessie to roam more and return to his more box-to-box role where he drove forward and created some chances up front and took a threatening long shot. Tiémoué Bakayoko is allowed to focus more on defending as Paqueta takes some of the burden of passing and build up play from him allowing each midfielder a more defined role.

Wasted Chances

Milan wasted so many chances against Sampdoria and got lucky not to concede in the 90 minutes. Higuain and Calhanoglu are the biggest culprits in this regard for missing sitters and failing to challenge the opposition keeper. Milan’s biggest downfall to this point is the inability to score for two main reasons: lack of chances and poor finishing. Both of these came into play in the first 90 minutes of the game and need to be addressed before Milan resume the 2nd half of the season in the league. Cutrone came in and took the chances he was awarded setting him apart from the other attackers during the game. Clinical finishing is the one technical area where Milan need to improve.