Lazio v Milan Post-Match Comments

Lazio: 4-1-4-1 – Bizzarri, Lulic, Dias, Biava, Konko, Ledesma, Mauri, Hernanes, Gonzalez, Candreva, Klose.

Milan: 4-3-1-2 – Amelia, Abate, Bonera, Yepes, Antonini, Montolivo, De Jong, Nocerino, Boateng, Pazzini, El Shaarawy.

Prior to the match, Galliani announced that Allegri’s job had never, and continued to not be in jeopardy. This brings out two crowds usually. One is those who will staunchly defend Allegri until the day he’s fired as an unfortunate chap who just happened to stumble into B&G’s well-devised plan to crucify him for their own shortcomings. The other group believes that Allegri is the primary reason for the current status of the team, and no coaching decision he makes will change that. So how did Max actually do today?

I’ll begin in midfield, because this is where the match was won and lost. Montolivo had 5 tackles and an interception for a total of 6 ball wins. De Jong had 2 tackles but  3 interceptions. So what does this mean? Coupled with the rest of the stats this season (which support this conclusion), it means that De Jong is better at positioning himself, and reading the play, whereas Montolivo also does this, but focuses on keeping the man in particular in front of him and waiting until the moment to make the tackle. Neither style is better or worse overall, both have advantages in the situation. My problem with the two of these guys playing in today’s 4-3-1-2 formation (which unfortunately became a 4-1-3-space-2 with no link in attack) is that Milan ended up playing with 3 mezzala players, none of whom were particularly effective in the match as they all attempted to perform different variations of the same role. Most at fault of the three of these players is Kevin Prince Boateng, who wasn’t in the right position throughout the match, and continued his woeful form of 0 goals and 0 assists. Without movement or offensive pressure (which he didn’t provide at the top of the diamond at all), Boateng is just a passenger in the midfield. Even Boateng’s uninspired performance could be called pragmatic compared to the barren performance put on show by Nocerino. Positionally he played deep, however he didn’t provide any cover to the back four, didn’t provide width on the left for the squad, didn’t complete his runs higher up the pitch, and failed to take advantage of the one time in more than a year that Milan have played so dependently on the right half of the pitch.

Screen Shot 2012 10 21 at 9.27.52 AM Lazio v Milan Post Match Comments

Attack Directions, Lazio left, Milan right

Nocerino’s frustration was evident from the first minute. Whether the off-field issues are a part of his mentality (having been dropped from Prandelli’s regular call ups) or whether he simply doesn’t have the belief in either himself of the strategy. In any event, he’s unlikely to deserve a starting spot with performances like he turned in against Lazio. He seems to know this, as his interview this week with Gazzetta indicates, “I was not Pelé last year; I’m not dead this year.” He also discussed the fact he doesn’t seem to fit into the 4-2-3-1 system that Allegri is introducing. Perhaps that was part of the motivation for changing the system to a 4-3-1-2, however, more than that I think it was the desperation setting in as the wagons circle Max Allegri. As alluded to in the last Post-Match Comments, Milan are looking more and more desperate by the match. The 4-3-1-2 was the last throw of the dice for Allegri, the one last attempt at the comfort foods that sustained his first two years as manager. The old tried-and-true strategy. Boban asked Allegri after the match why he chose the 4-3-1-2 and his answer was that he wanted another man in midfield.

Screen Shot 2012 10 21 at 12.06.34 PM Lazio v Milan Post Match Comments

Milan / Lazio Positions

It didn’t work, as Lazio pulled in one of their four offensive midfielders (and covered the space by allowing Lulic to press forward on the Lazio left wing. This is why Emanuelson’s substitution at halftime was so crucial.

He pushed Lulic back, which forced their attacking midfielders to do more defensive work, and also forced them wider, which opened op space inside for Pazzini to receive crosses instead of being shadowed by holding players and central backs. This space led to both of the goals, as El Shaarawy was free on the left flank for the first time all match, and took advantage of a one on one. On the free kick, Emanuelson curled it in from the right wing onto the path of De Jong for the second. Allegri did well to diagnose Boateng as the man to come off for Emanuelson (as the width became more important for the Rossoneri than the strength in the center or even the numerical advantage).

Ultimately though, the changes that saw positive steps for Milan in previous matches, were forgotten. The 4-2-3-1 that had started to become customary for the team was shifted, the defense became the 10th different defense in 10 games. All of the decisions in this game come down to desperation. From Allegri’s full-Leonardo move of 4-2-fantasia to the initial change to 4-3-1-2 this game was about the Rossoneri feeling comfortable, and they were unable to. Will Max be given more time? Surely he will, however with a 5 losses, the Rossoneri have as many as the other 3 clubs they share points with, and sit one point out of the relegation zone. One feels that were the match at Malaga this weekend to go awry than Allegri’s tenure as Milan coach will certainly be in question.

Follow me on Twitter @PDAcquaviva

About Pete Acquaviva

Pete writes about Milan on this blog. Occasionally other things. You would know which of them it is if you've gotten this far.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post Navigation