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Milan Tactics: A Closer Look At Pioli’s In Game Formations Against Lecce

A deep dive into the in game formations deployed by Pioli last weekend.

AC Milan v US Lecce - Serie A Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

AC Milan kicked off their journey under Stefano Pioli with a 2-2 draw with Lecce last weekend where Milan performed admirably but fell asleep toward the end and failed to put the game to bed. Pioli kicked off with a more attacking brand of football that was fluid and cohesive and most importantly seemed to play to the strengths of the players at his disposal. The biggest winners from the change of system were Hakan Calhanoglu and Lucas Paqueta who played some of their best football in red and black. The free roaming role for Calhanoglu yielded a goal and an assist while Paqueta’s advanced role allowed him to demonstrate his flair and dribbling without him needing to constantly scuffle in the midfield. The defence looks quite good as well until Conti gave away the penalty and there after failed to pressure Calderoni. Overall, Pioli brought a breath of fresh air to the team. Pioli alternated between two unusual formations when defending and attacking in the game that created triangles and freed up passing lanes to allow Milan’s play to look fluid as opposed to Giampaolo’s style.

Milan as a 3-2-3-2.

When defending Milan were using a 3-2-3-2 formation to pressure the ball high up the pitch and to lock down the Lecce midfield. A defensive line of Romagnoli, Musacchio and Conti were given an additional layer of cover by the duo of Biglia and Kessie. Hernandez, Calhanoglu ad Paqueta formed an attacking midfield line while Suso and Leao played up front. This formation allowed Kessie and Biglia to make interceptions, pick out loose balls and hold the ball when needed. The attacking midfield line were responsible for pressuring the ball and quickly starting attacks. The back three was largely faced with long balls over the top which they easily dealt with all game along except the 92nd minute.

Milan as a 3-2-2-3

When attacking Milan slightly morphed into a 3-2-2-3 where Hernandez joined the attack as a left winger often using his pace to overlap the attacking midfielder while Calhanoglu and Paqueta slid wider out. This was an effective system as Milan were playing with four in the middle of the pitch and three up front allowing the ball to move around without pressure from the opposition and made made to get in behind the defence using Suso and Hernandez. In the attacking phases. Leao acted as a pivot to play the ball out wide and a target man when he made runs for the through balls and crosses. The interesting aspect of this formation was the interchangeability of the players to the positions which confused both Lecce players and Milan fans as Calhanoglu, Kessie and Paqueta kept shifting roles while Conti and Hernandez would alternate to join the attack.

The formations yielded two goals from open play which Milan struggled with prior to the weekend albeit against Lecce. Pioli ideas look good so far as there were a number of wins for Milan this weekend: Calhanoglu played to his potential, Piatek finally got back to scoring, Hernandez looked dangerous going forward, Paqueta looked to be in a more natural role and Leao played well again. It’s a good look for Milan and hopefully can lead to bigger wins.


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