Fiorentina v Milan Post-Match Comments

Of late, I’ve discussed less and less tactical matters and more context of Milan’s current situations. But seeing as how this is Milan’s first win over a top 6 side in the Seedorf era (and what ought to be the Seedorf era continuing through the summer), I’d like to explain the match itself before delving into the context.

A few thoughts:

  • Fiorentina didn’t have a shot on target. 10 shots, none of them on target. Last season, Steve Amoia and myself discussed a statistic in order to characterize HOW a team used their possession, PER: possession efficiency rating – Calculated by taking the team’s ball % and dividing it by their shots on target.
    • 59/0 – Fiorentina break the math world (call it .000 PER to avoid that)
    • 41/6 – .683 PER
      • Adendum – The top 11 pass combinations were between Fiorentina players, the first Milan duo to appear is Honda -> Taarabt (8 passes) = Very ineffective possession by Fiorentina.
  • Before the match, I commented on the worst full-backs in the Berlusconi era (Angelo Mineo on Twitter suggested Bogarde and Nielsen, very close). Bonera and Constant were both abysmal in their positions, but somehow didn’t concede.
    Compare FIorentina's wide passing with Milan's - Cuadrado and Jaoquin controlled the flanks over Constant and Bonera

    Compare FIorentina’s wide passing with Milan’s – Cuadrado and Jaoquin controlled the flanks over Constant and Bonera

    Funny how that works sometimes. Bonera was 3/9 on his passes going forward (for a grand total of 65% success) while also managing to only be successful on 1 of his 3 throw-ins (how the hell?). Not to be outdone, Kevin Constant didn’t win a defensive duel unless he was absolutely pinned back. DesperateConstantAs you move up the left flank, Constant may have been there, but he wasn’t able to influence play, win the ball, or cause problems to Jaoquin on the wing.

  • Keisuke Honda stretched play with Adel Taarabt very well. Honda’s most common pass was to Taarabt, three of those passes came on fast-break opportunities created by Honda winning the ball, which he did 10! times in the match. Hondarecoveries
    • Honda was all over the pitch, as evidenced by where he received the ball (compare to where he passed the ball on the previous dashboard). HondarecievedpassesThis was Keisuke’s best match in a Rossoneri shirt, and it was so good, there were barely any complaints about Bonera, who stumbled along out of position for what seemed like the entire match. HondaDash
  • Fiorentina’s wide men dominated Constant and Bonera, but were unable to make it count deep in the pitch and push Constant and Bonera into unfavorable positions. Part of this is because Honda and Taarabt came back and defended more than usual, granted, but that’s not really the reason KH/AT were defending, and that was that the group as a whole as compact. There was a spine, a surprise for this Milan side. Additionally there was an area where you could point on the field and say “this is a strong defensive zone well covered against penetration”.
  • Milan’s passes were not accurate, but were more direct than normal. The front three behind Balotelli acted as a trio for the first time this season instead of three individual players in similar areas of the pitch. Honda and Taarabt moved back and up the pitch in tandem very well and this created opportunities on the fast-break, which Milan were not equipped to deal with, but created several.


A new section (possibly to be continued, let me know your thoughts on Twitter on in the comments) will answer a question posed by readers – Kevin Lewis on Twitter asked, “Anytime Milan have a ritiro, they get results. No one likes it but it brings results. My question is: why?”

The answer is complicated, but there are a few factors at play here. Whether or not the locker room is divided (and when you’re losing, more of those reports surface), forcing the players to stay together is designed to increase focus – you’re around your teammates so much more in this scenario. Normally players can go back to families and decompress from their footballing lives. In this specific ritiro, with no return to Milano and Adriano Galliani doing his best “I’ve got this” schtick over Clarence Seedorf, it worked, like it had for several times under Max Allegri. But if we’re honest, I think at the end of the day, the fact Milan were facing the prospect of 5 consecutive defeats (a first in club history – a horrible possible record), as well as their new manager, a player many of them played with, would be sacked and blamed for the problems of the players and the back room – they responded. So, my answer is, desperation. Ritiro’s give the players the impression that they need to unite, be compact, trust their internal leadership, and count on each other in order to emerge from the run of form. And inevitably (statistically, from a cynical perspective) the team will emerge from the dark period, and the brilliance of the ritiro is that you can point to it and say, “this is why it happened, this is why things turned around”. Is it really? It seems more like the scent of desperation, but maybe that’s just a pessimistic interpretation. I’m also inclined to think it’s correlation rather than causation, not to mention how POORLY Fiorentina played, and that can’t really be attributed to Milan’s ritiro except to Galliani. I don’t feel Milan imposed themselves on the match to the extent necessary to cause the Fiorentina performance fully, but they came out compact, ready to defend for one another, and with a solid intent. Credit the ritiro there.

Statistics courtesy of the Stats Zone App found in the App Store

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.

3 Thoughts on “Fiorentina v Milan Post-Match Comments

  1. Hmmm… the ritiro thing definitely doesn’t always bring results. Like in 2012 losing vs. Malaga coming out of a ritiro, or in October when we came out of ritiro and lost to Barca then had a couple of awful draws. Allegri put the team in ritiro so many times, the odds were that there would be a win at some point afterward, but they were often ineffective under his reign.

    But this wasn’t a true ritiro, anyway. They were all staying at the same hotel, and had a curfew, but there was a pic of Kaka and Gabriel with their wives at dinner. (Normally there are no significant others or family allowed during a ritiro.) This was more of a convenient travel plan between the 2 away games, so I’m not going to credit the ritiro for the win.

    I think it is more the change of mentality still growing and taking hold in the squad as well as the long-term efforts of changing the tactics/system. Which I hope I am right, because a ritiro is only ever really effective short-term if at all, but the long-term changes will obviously bring significantly more results.

    Anyway, nice writeup as always. It’s nice to see the stats for the worst fullbacks of the Berlusconi era instead of just hearing people say how bad they were. (Although Bonera did actually clear the ball in the 35th, that was his singular contribution on the night, I think.) Please mend quickly, Abate & De Sciglio, that was painful despite the result.

  2. Sambit on March 28, 2014 at 9:28 AM said:

    Nice article Pete!
    Your new metric is very interesting. The link to Steve’s blog discusses the reciprocal of the metric you mention here (possesion per shots).
    I like this metric as it is easy to interpret but with a caveat – It should be viewed in context of ball possession as well.
    The most obvious contardictory example that springs to mind is that of a side that is willing to allow posession to the opposition, sits deep and tries to hit the opposition on the counter with speed or direct (or long ball passes). A team in this mould would be expected to have shot per posession ratio as high as that of a team that presses high, keeps possesion and tries to maximize its scoring ability. Therefore, context (style of play is also important).
    I didn’t watch this game but reading the reviews it seems clear that our management still hopes of getting into Europe and therefore the pressure on Seedorf and the team to get results. What we are not recognizing that no Europe and a few more losses on the P&L would probably help the team in the long run by making it imperative to clear out the deadwood, consciously reduce squad size and try to promote youth to fill up the roster and therefore help in further integration of our youth setup with the first team and also probably force us to improve our scouting and recruiting process. Now I know these are a lot of things to get done with but there has to be the painful realization of things that need to get done for progress before any progress can be made.

  3. RossoneriFido on March 29, 2014 at 8:43 AM said:

    Finally had some spare time to read the post match comments.
    Liked the reply to a question segment.
    Was impressed with the win and the performance but hopefully we’ll recover our best fullbacks sooner than later.
    Thanks Pete and Forza Milan.

Leave a Reply

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

Post Navigation