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Tactical Review of AC Milan's Reserved 2-2 Draw With Napoli Away

Milan and Napoli faced off as the some of the most in form teams in Serie A since the restart and shared the spoils.

Soccer Serie A, SSC Napoli v Milan Photo by BSR Agency/Getty Images

AC Milan took a point home after their trip to the San Paolo rounding off a tough schedule of fixtures and a stunning run of form. This was the first encounter against former manager Gennaro Gattuso and Milan held on to grab a draw. Here's our review:

Stefano Pioli Starts With The Wrong Attitude

Compared to games with Lazio and Juventus, Milan looked to have entered the Napoli fixture with fear and doubt. The commanding presence in the midfield and the direct play at goal all disappeared. It was clear from the start that Milan were playing “to not lose” rather than playing “to win.” The major confusion also stemmed from starting Paqueta over Saelemaekers that threw of the balance in the attacking phase as Calhanoglu, Paqueta and Ibrahimovic tried to occupy the trequartista role and all flopped as they limited passing lanes and options for relief up top. Overall a very disjointed performance but bailed out by a few moments of brilliance.

Paqueta’s Cracks Show

To begin with, in fairness to Paqueta his awful display was rooted in Pioli playing him as a right winger. He looks uncomfortable when played out of position and he did not offer any respite to his teammates throughout his time on the pitch. At this point it does seem that it is likelier for him to leave than to fit into the project as despite his inconsistency Calhanoglu is a no brainer over Paqueta for me in the final six games. Saelemaekers and Castillejo trump him on the right wing as the offer a new dimension of play thus I can only see him used of the bench.

Kessie Composed and Decisive

This was a challenging game defensively for Kessie in particular because he kept having to fall back in between the two centre back when Napoli drove forward but more significantly he slotted in to LB and RB more than a few times when Conti and Hernandez were caught out. It was a laborious performance from the Ivorian but one where he rewarded with the opportunity of finally resuming his duties at the penalty taker. He has stepped aside to allow Piatek, Calhanoglu, Ibrahimovic to take the penalties on numerous occasions this season but he stepped up and calmly equalised for us sending Ospina the wrong way.

Theo With A Tale Of Two Halves

When I say halves, I mean he was one player in Napoli’s half and another in Milan’s half. Offensively he did exceptionally to barrel down the wing and score a fantastic volley of Rebic’s sublime turn and cross. Defensively he was bullied by Callejon and the winger could have scored a goal or two if not for Donnarumma. Hernandez is having a stellar first season with the Rossoneri and his 7 goals and 2 assists have been huge for the club but this summer his defensive capabilities need to be evaluated and seriously worked on. He can be one of the best LB’s in the world if he sures up his defensive skill.

Bonaventura On, Donnarumma Off

This game showed how the tiredness could be getting to some of the players in the squad while others are relishing their opportunities. Romagnoli did not look sharp, he was bailed out by Kjaer a couple of times. Donnarumma was 50/50, he was crucial saves but then both goals conceded were slip ups. On the flip side, Bonaventura changed the game for Milan. He came off the bench and added life to the attack and woke everyone up. He did well to goad Maksimovic into a challenge to win the penalty and demonstrated the importance of keeping experienced players on the squad. It will be sad to see him leave this summer.