Milan v Sampdoria Post-Match Comments [Aug 26 2012]

Milan: 4-3-1-2 – Abbiati; De Sciglio, Bonera, Yepes, Antonini; Flamini, Montolivo, Nocerino; Boateng; El Shaarawy, Robinho.

Sampdoria: 4-3-3 – Romero; Berardi, Gastaldello, Rossini, Costa; Tissone, Obiang, Poli; Krsticic, Eder, Estigarribia.


Screen Shot 2012 08 26 at 2.11.41 PM Milan v Sampdoria Post Match Comments

Average Player Position – Milan left, Sampdoria right

This game was ugly. That being said this was closer to a summer friendly than a serious game for Milan, however, it counted. Sampdoria on the other hand, came prepared, having defeated Barcelona (B) before coming into the San Siro. Speaking of the San Siro, the newly laid pitch hasn’t had time to grow in yet, and as a result, the ball bounced with extra voracity on the surface. It will hopefully improve.

The Good:

Boateng’s last 75 minutes – His first 15 minutes provided some of the most despicable football seen on this side of the San Siro. Once he found his ground however, he became the focal point he was intended to be for the attack. It was a developing idea which brings me to

Allegri’s attempt at a plan B – I’ve complained about it, said it’s absolutely necessary, and although it’s not the huge tactical shift that it sounds like (false 9), it is something, and credit to Allegri for making the move, as he could have played Pazzini from the start. Instead he chose to field Boateng who looked to receive the ball deep and wide, as El Shaarawy and Robinho both played off in the channels.

Robinho takes up the goalscoring hat – Or so he tried. You could tell the weight of the departures/absence of Pato was weighing on Robinho and he took shots that he might not normally not take. His effort though and desire to step up and be the leader of the front line is commendable. Milan will need that sort of spirit for the season.

De Sciglio’s crossing – De Sciglio can cross better than Abate. He crosses deeper, with more curve, with better technique, and with better success (4 successful crosses on 9 attempts, as well as a splendidly weighted defense-splitting ball in the first half). While he still needs some improvement in the defensive department (so does Abate), he provides a different dimension than Abate going forward and especially as Pazzini comes into the fold, I expect De Sciglio to see more time.

Allegri’s substitution – Last season, Allegri would have given 75 minutes before making a sub. Today he recognized the problem in the team and sought to solve it with the introduction of Pazzini in the 55th minute, in plenty of time for him to make an impact.

Two 19 year olds in the starting lineup – This may not be under the best circumstances but the youth movement is a positive one. The “movement towards sustainability” (another buzz phrase for low-cost) is one that is going to inflict a painful season or two upon Rossoneri fans. This leads to

The Bad – 

The defense as a unit – We said this back four surely couldn’t keep a clean sheet. Indeed.

Sampdoria’s time on the ball – Sampdoria were given all the time in the world in the opening half to turn on the ball. Milan increased the pressure as the time wore on, but not at a fast enough rate, and not with enough effect. Sampdoria players were able to drive forward and before their break, oftentimes their only downfall was their own passing.

The goal – The marking on the set piece was atrocious. Abbiati didn’t even move, which is even more strange considering he had no one on the post.

The finishing – Sometimes it’s your day, sometimes it isn’t. Milan hit the post almost as often as Maxi Lopez did last season. He got sent on his way for it.

Nocerino and Flamini – The workmen of the midfield put in the most anonymous midfield performance I’ve seen in a long time from a Milan team. They seemed unable to cope with the ball when they had it, did a poor job of exploiting space, and were not able to drive forward in the way’s that made them dangerous in seasons past. One to forget.

Lack of creation in the final third – The only offensive creative players on Milan last season were Ibrahimovic and Cassano, and they are both gone. There is a huge gap here at the moment.

General lack of ideas for the team – The team was walking in the final minutes – from dejection not from exertion. You just don’t get the sense that the team on the field has a clear idea what the strategy is, how to utilize it best, and how to put others on the team in a position to do the same.

Lack of service to the striker – Be it Boateng in the first half or Pazzini in the second half, the man furthest up the pitch didn’t get the ball enough. Contrast this to Eder for Sampdoria who saw the ball often and was a reference point to allow his team to join him in the final third.

Robinho takes up the goalscoring hat – You know how this turned out.

Final Thoughts – 

Milan played laterally too much. They didn’t use enough vertical movement in their shape, and as a result, you ended up with two players on the wings, without much skill or ability to do anything with the ball (see any interaction with Flamini and De Sciglio in the first half). Emanuelson’s introduction in the second half helped with the balance of the left side seeing an increase in penetration and crosses. I’d like to see more Urby in the mezzala in the coming games.

Allegri tried a new system. That system wasn’t particularly effective, but he also doesn’t really have the right players in the right places for it to work. That being said, the same strategies of last year aren’t possible, so there is going to be some time needed before Allegri develops a new idea (he probably should have done this before but I’m sure he didn’t expect Thiago, Zlatan and Cassano all to leave at once.). The real question is will Silvio give him enough time to figure it out?

New attempts at a system yielded the same results. Milan still attacked the same directions with the same frequency as last season.  Screen Shot 2012 08 26 at 2.11.10 PM Milan v Sampdoria Post Match Comments

They also shot from the same areas of the pitch as last year, however Cassano + Ibrahimovic’s absence was noticeable when it came to the direction of the shots, as both players like to drift out to the left side. In their absence, there were more shots from the right side instead, where Boateng, Robinho and El Shaarawy all like to drift towards.

Screen Shot 2012 08 26 at 3.04.30 PM Milan v Sampdoria Post Match Comments

Shot Directions – Milan left, Sampdoria right


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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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