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9 Things: Milan Get A Deserved Win, Milan vs SPAL 1-0

A brilliant freekick caps a solid performance from Milan.

1: What the Analytics Said

Milan dominated the game and created a fair amount of chances, but this was by no means a thrashing. The concerning issue with this game is that Milan was not able to create multiple expected goals. 1.33 xG is nothing too impressive and is worse that this happened at home against SPAL. Keeping SPAL to under .5 xG is solid, but the offense is a problem. There was a noticeable turn when Castillejo was subbed off, but there was not a newfound attack with a new player on the field. Milan will need to have more games where they dominate in every facet of the game. SPAL should have been that type of game, but alas here we are.

Milan looked the best as Bennacer started to progress further up the field. He and Suso could play off each other. Bennacer made quick switches and Suso got to benefit from the overlaps Bennacer provided.

2: The Wingers, Part 2

PLAY REBIC!

In other news, Samu was non-existent, and has not been a Europa League level player ever since he came to Milan. From what I have gathered about Samu is that he presses well. He reminds me of Neymar in the way that he flops around a lot and is the slimmest person to exist. That’s the end of that digression. He is not at the level that Milan will need and should be shipped away soon.

Suso was good when he came on. Yet again there was a lot of support to make his play work. The freekick was awesome, but that is not part of build up or open play. There were some inventive moments of open play that Suso was a part of. The most impressive run of build up had a lot of play coming from Piatek and Bennacer to make what Suso was doing to work. Suso and Bennacer had some solid chemistry and should continue to be used in unison.

3: Stop Doing Dumb Things with The Right Backs

Leo Duarte is not a right back. Andrea Conti actively lacks quality. Davide Calabria is fantastic. Do not play anyone else at right back for the rest of the year. If Calabria has ninety minutes in him then he needs to start. The team does not function well without him in the side. The right side of the field needs Calabria to cover and make overlaps for crosses. There are no other suitable options for right back and playing around with anyone else has proved pointless.

4: Lucas Paqueta is Still Ironing Out His Game

There is a saying in hockey that a player is gripping he stick too tight. It means that a player is putting too much pressure on himself to score. Paqueta is doing that right now. He is too concerned about scoring right now and needs to focus on the process of getting closer to goal more often. Paqueta took a few selfish shots during the game and spent too much time on the ball near the top of the box. He could use a small reset in how he looks at the field. There is not too much concern as he is still full of class. Paqueta still has tons of quality and will become a high-class player.

5: Bennacer Chrushed Defensive Midfielder

LOOK AT THAT A GUY DOING HIS DUTY WELL. Bennacer joined in on link up play and defended well. He made lots of quick switches and joined into the attack. His and Biglia’s role requires him to rotate the ball quickly and effectively during the game. They both need to be a pivot in front of the centerbacks. Biglia has struggled to do that this year, and Bennacer had one shocking game. However, Bennacer overall has been better than Biglia. Bennacer needs to play more.

6: Defensive Solidity at Full Show Today

Milan’s defense held well against a particularly poor SPAL. There needs to be more performances of this ilk. Theo continues to play left back like a left winger (He never drops below the midfield line). Romagnoli continues to stop any chance that comes near him. Mussachio is still decent. Duarte is not better than Mussachio and hopefully is not seen as better. There will need to be another centerback of quality brought in, but that is for a later date.

7: The Goal

Suso nailed an awesome freekick. It is good to see that at least one of the dead ball players can still hit these shots. Milan will need these shots to continue to go in during the rest of the season. There is not much more about the shot. It is a dead ball play, so nothing too crazy there.

8: The Players Who Did Not Play

Rebic needs to play soon. Hakan has been poor this season and Rebic was a player of massive ability at Eintracht Frankfurt. Thinking of him as a backup is poor understanding of who he is a player (he’s a pressing support striker). I did think Piatek had a good game and pressed well. He looked good in build up as well so not playing Leao is understandable. I would still like to see more Krunic, but that can happen against the worse sides. There is not too much of an issue from the unused guys.

9: Overall Thoughts

The tactics for Milan still befuddle me. There are a few things I notice like Theo never getting back and the need for overlaps, but it has felt like the players are just being themselves out there. I do not think that tactic will work for long and Milan will most likely have to deal with struggles against top sides. Lecce was the best performance of the season, SPAL was a solid one, but the most impressive one was against Torino. It will be interesting to see how Milan does against Lazio. That could easily get ugly. Biglia is going to start, Pioli will do something dumb with the right back, and Hakan will play and look bad. Milan needs some lineup stability and to play the younger players. I am not sure that next week will be that week.