Milan v Juventus Post-Match Comments

Milan were bashed over the weekend not because they lost to Juventus at San Siro, but more because of the manner in which they played in that loss. Certainly credit must be given to Juventus for the way in which they approached the match, it was an excellent away performance.

 That being said, this Juventus side lacks the gleam of Conte’s treble winning sides, and though the results are coming, and the defense is solid, Juve still showed late-summer form and will be looking to Allegri to get them to the fitness they need to be at without too many more muscular injuries.

But in this abridged section today, I want to talk about a fundamental breakdown in the Milan strategy which was evident over and over again, and that was the lack of a defensive plan when clearing the ball.

First though, the statistics from Nigel De Jong was 12/13 with his long passes, mostly because he has to be a conservative passer. You don’t put a risk taker right in front of the back four, because if and when he loses the ball (which be sure De Jong does do), the opposition are in incredibly effective areas.

Abbiati was 6/16. Understandable in the end though, he’s the goalkeeper and goal kicks are counted as long passes. Don’t expect the last man back to have great accuracy here, not a concern of this piece, and goalkeeper stats won’t be included from here on; we’re only discussing the back four.

But it’s the back line that really is the problem, going a combined 13/34 (38%) on their long passes, with Ignazio Abate the worst offender, going 2/12 (17%). To highlight how poor this was, compare the back four’s numbers against the match vs. Parma (15/25, 60%) or against Lazio (13/29, 45%). Against Lazio, Bonera was painfully exposed at fullback and forced to clear his lines several times, but against Juventus, arguably there was no “focus” of the Juve attack, no clear weak link being exploited. There was general pressure, yes, but the amount of clearing.

The next thing to do is to evaluate where the cleared balls were going, and against Juventus, the answer was directly over the heads of the Milan side. My informal tally counted five clearances by the back line in the second half that were 20 yards away from any Redblack player. Others just were cleared down the channel by Abate, as he was struggling to contain Asamoah overlapping wide and creating width in the Juve attack which led to some rushed balls, but also just some inaccurate passing from a player never known for his ability to pick a pass.

Surely Inzaghi will notice and address this issue, as players have even confirmed it as a focus this season. The goal is more passing, more triangles and possessing the ball instead of booting it up. Saturday, Milan were put under pressure by Juventus, and their initial instincts took over the recent teachings and the clearances became desperation rather than targeted releases.


Random Thoughts:

It actually dawned on me this week that Menez is Milan’s best player. I don’t just mean over the last three games, but in general it looks as if the Frenchman is the most talented player on the roster. Couple things:

1. How have Milan fallen so far that this is the case (but we’ve been over this, so)

2. Arguably Taarabt was Milan’s best player over the 6 months he was here (very arguably)

3. It’s not been much time, and Menez’s issue has always been consistency – keeping up the form

4. De Jong isn’t having a good start to the season which is par the course after a long World Cup campaign (Holland played the maximum number of matches)

5. Come out of that shell some more Keisuke Honda, you’re developing into the player we expected. He had a poor showing against Juventus, a horror-show of passing but coming off the international break, understandable. He should retain his starting spot and return string against relegation-bound Empoli on Tuesday.



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.

4 Thoughts on “Milan v Juventus Post-Match Comments

  1. Hey Pete, nice and crisp article!!!
    I am not too concerned about the fact that Menez is the most talented player on our roster or even by the fact that he is inconsistent. The main problem is the number of mediocre players on our roster. In terms of skill, application and results Muntari, Mexes, Bonera, Zapata, Albertrazzi, Armero, Zaccardo, Essien are all at the same level. Although we have cleared out a lot of dead weight there are quite a few that remain.

    My main observations from the match were:

    1. Panic when pressed into decision making: The clearest example was the number of times the ball was played out of the defense to one of the full backs and we lost possesion on the next pass infield. Both Abate and DeSciglio were guilty of frittering away possession time and time again leading to us being pinned in our own half for most of the time

    2. Lack of mental fortitude: This comes back to the point of having players like Muntari, Zapata and Mexes as seniors on this roster. GIven that Monty is out injured, the onus falls on these guys to really take responsibilty and sometimes I feel that they are just too reckless to inspire any confidence from our younger players

    3. Desciglio is badly out of form too!!! :(

  2. RossoneriFido on September 23, 2014 at 2:46 AM said:

    Thanks Pete.
    Couldn’t agree more on everything.
    I hated the fact that we couldn’t cause Juve some trouble even though they had midweek obligations. I understand they are far better from us on every department but we played against them as if they were Bayern Munich or Barcelona… It’s unacceptable. I saw no plan whatsoever. I hope this never happens again.
    Regardless we need to learn from the mistakes and move on.
    Forza Milan

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