Milan v Atalanta Post-Match Comments [Sep 15 2012]

Milan – 4-2-1-1-2 – Abbiati; Abate, Bonera, Acerbi, Antonini; De Jong, Ambrosini; Emanuelson; Boateng; Pazzini, El Shaarawy

Atalanta – 4-3-2-1 – Consigli; Briviom, Lucchini, Manfredini, Bellini; Raimondi, Cigarini, Biondini; Bonaventura, Moralez; Denis

Some context: Milan have had poor starts before, however, this loss means Milan have their worst home start in 82 years. The last time they lost two home matches to begin the season, they were relegated.


Some Thoughts –

  • Almost as if the outcome was dictated before the match even got underway, the stands were conspicuously empty. Today, also, the official season ticket numbers were released. A new low in the Berlusconi Era. The cynicism with this squad has brimmed over the top.
  • Boateng doesn’t link the midfield and attack. He used to be passable at it, although this may have been more of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s influence than anything else, it seems. In any event, his shooting has been atrocious again this year (he might need to work on it again) and his utility at the trequartista spot with no creativity continues to fall.
  • Atalanta played with Moralez out wide with room to operate. Bonaventura played behind Denis who drifted around and looked to hold the ball up to his onrushing players. He was far more effective at holding up play and distributing the ball than Pazzini was, although Pazzini lives for wide service, whereas Denis was getting service directly from the center of the midfield or from Moralez, who was the most effective creative player in the game.
  • Emanuelson’s impact was felt when he started making driving runs in about the 10th minute. Until then, he was using his guile to shield the ball and look for a pass, but once he realized the time he was being given to turn, he started using his pace to his advantage, which is something he should have been coached about before. I mentioned this in my preview tweets, but here’s the predicted diagram of the midfield’s movement today.

midfieldatalanta Milan v Atalanta Post Match Comments

Midfield Movement Direction v Atalanta

  •  Milan pressed very well in the opening 15 minutes. They denied Atalanta any possession in the early going, and a lot of this was due to the work they were doing in the offensive third while they lost possession. This died out by the 30th minute. This sort of pressing requires an extremely fit squad (Milan Lab), or this strategy has to be used judiciously and not spread through the whole game. The problem with pressing for the first 25 minutes is that once this huge surge of effort yielded no goal (as it has on every occasion this season) there is little energy or motivation left to adjust this system. Also there has to be the order to change the system, and “Dai, Dai, Dai” might lead one to believe there was no change in orders. Allegri needs to know his team better than this. He needs to be able to read the situation and not go for broke in the first 20 minutes. Speaking of going for broke..
  •  Provincial Tactics – Using 2 holders against a mid-table side. I don’t understand why Ambrosini was a starter. His introduction into the starting lineup saw Emanuelson play ahead of himself and De Jong (who it should be noted made Ambrosini’s role redundant). Emanuelson wasn’t given the proper instructions and didn’t have a defined role until midway through the first half. Why didn’t Antonini get subbed out? There was no threat coming down Milan’s left side, and Emanuelson had the flank under control for much of the first half. Why was the 4-3-3, which provides Pazzini with the most service (that he delivers on), never considered? Why did Boateng remain in the game as it was clear his patience had slipped and his concentration was gone? Why did El Shaarawy come out when he was the most positive attacking player? Would Ambrosini have been subbed if he hadn’t been injured?
  •  Three Milan players understood that the way to break through a static game like today’s match is through vertical runs. El Shaarawy, Boateng and Emanuelson were the only players who seemed to be able to separate from their defenders, and looked the most lively. Boateng has a bit of Muntari-syndrome and needs to curb a bit of the excessive shots – but also, he’s out there to try, and Allegri needs to manage the match and the players. He should have been substituted. He tires after 70 minutes, frequently. He will also probably start on Tuesday.
  •  Bonera needs to learn a second style of defense because his one game plan doesn’t work against all types of strikers. Denis was able to lay the ball off to Cigarini for the goal because Bonera was over a foot and a half off him, covering his basis in case Denis tried to push the ball past Bonera. In covering for his lack of pace, he allowed Denis to receive the ball with little pressure, and as a result, Denis had no problem finding the right pass.
  • The team selection was wrong today. The substitutions were a combination of forced moves as well as mis-appropriated maneuvers to gain offensive potency. There just was no real basis for a tactical plan on this match. Allegri never really had control of this match.

Screen Shot 2012 09 15 at 4.58.30 PM Milan v Atalanta Post Match Comments

Average Player Position – Milan left, Atalanta right – Courtesy of

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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.

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