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11 Things: A Wild Game of Banter and a Bad Game on the Pitch, Milan vs Genoa 2-1

This game had some crazy moments, but the soccer itself was poor.

Pepe Reina of AC Milan celebrates the victory with his... Photo by Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images

1: Breaking Down What Expected Goals Say

This is an edit. Between The Posts just released their match plots so I am putting it into the article. I am sorry about this, hopefully Between the Posts goes off of my schedule from now on.

Between the Posts

Anyways, Milan were not good in general. They became better when Leao and Paqueta came on, but even then, the team did not play particularly well. Milan seemed pretty ready to go in the first fifteen minutes of the second half, but this died as the game progressed. There was certainly more creativity in how to move around the midfield, but a lot of work was left to Leao in attack. The team struggled to control the midfield again, and the subs helped mitigate that, but not enough. With this said, Milan performed well from set pieces, but very poorly from open play. This is still a concern because the team will need to actually generate goals from play in the future.

Genoa was also particularly bad. The first goal was an utter fluke, but they had major chances during the game. Pinamonti and Kouame both were very positive, but they were constantly left by themselves. Milans defense controlled the center of the park decently but were still susceptible to late runners on quick breaks. Genoa had some truly dangerous attacks.

2: WHO WANTS TO BE A STRIKER-ionaire

Piatek has had serious troubles this season, but the most crucial issue is that he is not doing anything in link up play. Giampaolo’s system requires the striker to have a lot of differing ability. Most notably is a form of link up play that helps bring at least the center attacking midfielder into the attack. With Piatek the issue is that he has not been good with the ball at his feet. This problem then does not allow other players to join in the attack. Bonaventura tried to link up a few times, but they did not help get the ball into the box. As the first half continued, Milan then switched to a very long link up style where Reina would just smash the ball to Piatek and hope that the Polish man would bring the ball down. If that did not work, then no offense would happen and that would be the end of the attack. The finishing is frustrating, but the reliance on Piatek as a ball playing striker is an issue. The tactics seem to need someone like Salomon Rondon, but Piatek is not that guy.

Players who can link up, like Leao, help progress the attack forward. He was able to get Kessie, Suso, Theo, and Paqueta into the attack. Leao can also beat a player too and has skills that allow him generate chances. Without Leao in the lineup then the offense just absolutely stops. Also, the move that Leao did to win the penalty was fantastic. He’s going to score goals.

3: Romagnoli Has Been Weird

This has been an issue of Romagnoli understanding the space around him. This happened with a Kouame chance in the second half. Romagnoli did not interpret where Kouame was, and Kouame was able to get by Romagnoli. Kouame started his run very deep, about 25 yards out, and ran into the box. The cross he ran onto was driven and Romagnoli was near him but not covering him. This was bad defending from Romagnoli, and this poor interpretation has happened before. The early incidents were at full display during the Inter and Fiorentina games, where anyone arriving late to a play was not covered by the centerbacks. Romagnoli needs to focus on these late overlaps more, so that he can take the next step to being incredible.

4: The Midfield Still Struggles

The issue against Genoa was that Hakan was the offensive force, and Kessie was unable to do anything. In the second half, Suso received overlaps, and this is crucial, into the box from Kessie. Hakan never moves like this and does not help penetrate the box as much. Hakan and Suso cross too much, and neither should play at the same time, because they both are too cross heavy, and do not penetrate the box with their movement. When Leao and Paqueta came on, Paqueta played like a deeper playmaker and Kessie then made overlapping into the box. This generated more issues for Genoa and caused Leao to have more support in attack. Theo then was able to go further into the box and shorten the space between where the cross was originating and where the targets were.

Biglia was fine against Genoa, but he still does not pass forward well, and some of his duties were taken over by Paqueta. Biglia may be more defensive, but he is not as good as Bennacer. Now, the issue is that Bennacer struggled against Fiorentina in a big way, but he should not become the number two center defensive midfielder. The midfield will need to be Paqueta, Bennacer, and Kessie for the team to reach full ability.

5: Pepe Reina Had an Incredibly Odd Day

The first goal was entirely Reina’s fault, but he then saved two dangerous chances, and obviously the penalty. He saved about half an expected goal, so he had a fine day overall. Howlers are one thing, and goalies will give those up, but the few other saves he had were truly fantastic. Thank god he saved that penalty though.

6: Red Cards Galore

Genoa versus Milan was at odds with Inter versus Juventus. One had way too many cards, the other did not have enough. The Calabria red was a ridiculous call, that second yellow was incredibly soft. He should not be getting suspended, but he will still be. Calabria was playing well too which is even more frustrating. Sending off four players is odd and probably means that the referee was being too card happy. The refereeing was poor and way too aggressive.

7: The Goals

The first goal was dominated by an incredible run from Theo. The gall to make that run and sprint at that many defenders is impressive. It is a fantastic solo effort from Theo to get the shot off. Now, Radu was terrible on the shot and let in a very soft goal. That is not a save to make, Radu simply needs to hold his ground. Radu did not, and I am glad he did not.

The second goal was defined by Leao pulling another trick out of his bag. Biraschi was completely beaten by the move, and only stopped Leao by committing the foul. This is what Leao can do if he plays more consistently. He is what the team needs. Kessie scored the penalty well, also.

8: The Substitutes

Paqueta and Leao completely changed the game. Without them, then Milan would have limped through the second half. There were not many creative ideas coming from the players who started. Paqueta added value by creating chances from deep, and Leao helped bring players forward. Kessie could then start entering the box, which let Suso have more space to operate. The substitutions helped open the field up so much for the team.

9: Please Play Ante Rebic

Rebic and Leao would be a formidable starting duo and would help break down a defense. Both could play a very loose form of striker, but both would be able to make smart runs and play off each other. If one is not working, then sub on Piatek. It is not a complicated idea.

10: Giampaolo and His Career

This is not something that I have wanted to write about, but I guess it is important now.

Giampaolo’s system requires a lot of the central defensive midfielder, the striker, and rotates between the fullbacks. The issue is that Giampaolo is struggling to understand what players are bringing what to the team. Piatek has not linked up well, ever, Hakan is not going into the box, Biglia does not pass forward enough. This is an issue that will progress, and it is really frustrating to see Giampaolo not understand this. Not playing Bennacer, Paqueta, Leao, and Rebic more often is frustrating and wrong.

11: Overall Thoughts

The team needs to lean into the youth movement. There will be games were the inexperience bites the team, but the ability lies with the younger guys. Biglia and Hakan are fine substitutes, Ricardo Rodriguez can play for defensive cover, Piatek needs to get his confidence back which is easier to do as a substitute. That is because it is easier to score as a substitute. This constant playing of players who have been very poor is frustrating and hopefully will stop.