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A few reflections about the AC Milan Women’s defeat to TSG Hoffenheim

A few lamentations and some praise in-between.

AC Milan v San Marino Academy - Women Serie A Photo by Giuseppe Cottini/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The AC Milan Women lost their qualification match against TSG Hoffenheim. The loss means that Milan women are out of the competition. The only good thing about this is that they at least won their first match against FC Zürich.

And as a way of coping with the loss, I’ve decided to write a few reflections about it.

Here it goes.

It’s preseason

Milan were in preseason form, and it shows. The team has yet to gel together. The team has undergone another upheaval through the summer. The only difference between this one and the last one is that they brought in players of a higher quality.

However, it’s really disappointing that the team didn’t prepare for their qualifier well. On the pitch, the team couldn’t get the basics down. The Rossonere had trouble defending set-pieces. Even simple things like stringing together passes was a chore for them. The player’s touches were often heavy and let them down.

It’s a shame to see that they couldn’t even get the simplest things right. In the end, it was a disappointing presentation. All we can hope for now is that the team gets progressively better during the season.

More reinforcements are needed

Although Elisabet Spina has done a good job during this transfer market, it still feels like the team is missing a few pieces.

The team still needs a midfielder to replace Yui Hasegawa, who recently signed for West Ham. The team lacks a few options in attack, as they are heavily reliant on Valentina Giacinti to score goals.

Bringing in one extra midfielder to replace Yui and one attacker to give Valentina rest is a must. Having them at our disposal could have made difference in a game like this.

One could speculate, however, that the reinforcements will be brought in during the January window.

We’ll see what happens.

Serie A Femminile still has a long way to go

Though the way Milan played was lamentable, Hoffenheim were a class above the Rossonere. Milan are still amateurs in an amateur league, no matter how many top players they take.

Hoffenheim, otoh, have all the benefits of being professionals in a professional league. They are a top team who came in third in the Frauen-Bundesliga, and once even claimed the scalp of Bayern Munich along the way with a 3-2 winner over the domestic champions.

The Serie A Femminile teams still have a long way to go if they want to catch up to the likes of Hoffenheim.

Codina is class

If there was one standout from the match, it was Laia Codina. As was noted before, the centre-back is only 21-years-old and yet she plays like a veteran.

Codina was excellent during this match, as she read the opponents’ plays well and made several crucial interventions. Her technical skills also demonstrated that she was a level above most of the other players on the pitch.

She is also a natural leader, and it came through at how she shouted instructions at the other players on the pitch, including at the veteran defenders.

Milan are truly blessed to have her for the season.

Giuliani is our savior

Laura Giuliani, once again, proved how invaluable she was to the game through both her leadership and her reflexive saves.

Without her, the scoreline would be a lot worse than it was. I’ve been a fan of Laura since I first saw her in the 2017 Women’s Euros and against Hoffenheim, she confirmed my faith in her.

Too bad her performance wasn’t capped off with a victory.

Milan needs to consider finding a new coach

At the end of last season, I nearly wrote an article about why AC Milan should consider parting ways with Maurizio Ganz. However, I didn’t hit ‘submit’ for the piece. I didn’t because I was willing to give Ganz another chance after the team had extended his contract.

I figured that maybe he’d have the time to do some reading and will have grown during the summer break and will have grown as a coach. Unfortunately, I forgot that summers were made for vacationing and people get a serious case of lazyitis during these long, hot, and languid days.

Ganz is also, apparently, not immune to this. That was most evident by how badly he prepared for the team’s Champions League qualifier against TSG Hoffenheim. The match was one of the most important matches Milan has ever played, and they blew it.

And they managed to detonate themselves in the most spectacular ways.

Now, before you say I’m overreacting, keep in mind that Ganz has been at the helm of Milan for three seasons. And he consistently gets it wrong when it comes to the big games. He employed a suicidal high line against Juventus that ended in a 4-0 defeat for the Rossonere. His refusal to go to his bench for most of the season led to the players being fatigued in the Coppa Italia final. In the end, Milan would lose that final on penalties.

His latest faux pas is the fact that he played a three-person defense against a fast and free-scoring side.

For some odd reason, he chose to play a back three against a technical and fast attacking team. I had a feeling that it was a bad idea to use this formation, especially after interviewing a German writer who said that it was in fact, a bad idea to use a three-player defense against Die Kraichgauer.

It turns out, the bad feeling was right. The fact that the midfield looked so disjointed and was almost nonexistent did not help either.

Time and time again, he gets things wrong. And it’s just plain frustrating. Milan has way too much talent to be playing this badly. Sticking with Ganz for another season gives me the sense of lost time and that we could be losing a year of development.

This team has way too much talent to be playing the way that they did in the Champions League qualifier. It was downright disappointing and embarrassing that we could not at least put up a fight against the German side.

Now, Ganz isn’t at fault for everything that is wrong with the team. Upper management also bears the blame, as they took too long to do things like creating a Primavera squad. That set back Milan’s development and is part of the reason why they have not been able to close the gap with Juventus.

However, Maurizio has shown himself to be tactically limited and Milan must consider moving on from him after this season. Renewing him after his contract ends shows that the team are just content with mediocrity.

Of course, Ganz could always prove me wrong and actually have Milan play well and have a good season.

But until he does so, then — in the words of Stringer Bell, little man got to go.

Up Next

AC Milan will play their first game of the season against Hellas Verona on Sunday, August 29th. The kickoff time will be at 17:30 CEST (8:30 am PST or 11:30 am EST).

A few lead-ups to the match will be posted within the next few days.