Category Archives: Archived Post-match Comments

Reactions from previous matches

Torino v Milan Post-Match Comments [Dec 9 2012]

It needs to be said that this was Torino goalkeeper Jean-Francois Gillet’s worst match of the season. He conceded more than he had in any match, and will certainly feel he could have kept most of Milan’s attempts out today.

According to, Milan had 7 shots on target, and 4 of these ended up as goals. Gillet earned a 4.52 rating from, his lowest of the season by over a point.  He deflected El Shaarawy’s shot into the path of Nocerino. Later he spilled a straightforward cross to El Shaarawy. Had these two critical mistakes not been made, this may have been a very different encounter entirely. But as such, and as exemplified last week by Barrientos, one player can make the difference in a match, and Gillet’s poor play unfortunately doomed Torino. He also could probably have done more with Pazzini’s effort, although the primary blame for that goal has to fall on Salvatore Masiello after he neither defended nor stopped the ball going past him as Pazzini crashed his way into the 6 before finishing.

Screen Shot 2012 12 09 at 6.36.15 PM Torino v Milan Post Match Comments

Attack Directions, Torino left, Milan right

Torino attacked down the center, as they have all season. In fact, Torino attack down the center more than any other team in Serie A, with 36% of their attacks coming from the center of the pitch. Once they moved up the pitch though, they brought the ball out wide and preferred to swing the ball in from the flanks. For this reason, their wide midfielders were the most crucial players on the field, as they were tasked with tracking the Milan wing backs as well as creating space for Gazzi, Basha and Ogbonna to distribute the ball to. Santana and Cerci didn’t do a very good job doing this today on the whole, although Santana was making the right movement and pressuring properly to get the goal from Nocerino’s back-pass. Cerci was subbed at half for Valter Birsa who was much more effective than the man he replaced, touching the ball 10 times more in his 45′ shift than Cerci. Birsa also crossed the ball to Bianchi for the second goal, and looked dangerous on his wing, although the duo of Emanuelson and De Sciglio generally did a good job of keeping him contained. De Sciglio had less cover in the second half from Emanuelson (Allegri told him to push up more at halftime and thought he was too defensive), and this contributed to Birsa’s successes as well.

TorinoleftMilanRight hotspot Torino v Milan Post Match Comments

Hot Spots: Torino left, Milan right

Milan attacked using the flanks, and in particular, their left flank. The duo of Emanuelson and De Sciglio on the left is one that I have been looking forward to since Max played Emanuelson in front of Mesbah and Constant. De Sciglio is more competent than the other LB options going forward and was able to combine with Emanuelson up the flank in the final-third to cross in balls. Emanuelson found success with 1 of his 6 cross attempts while Mattia De Sciglio succeeded with 3 of 5.

Nigel De Jong’s season ended in the 21st minute after he tore his Achilles tendon. De Jong’s absence will be a blow for the Rossoneri, unless they adequately replace him. NdJ provided something that no other holding midfielder provides for Milan. This injury comes at a terrible time for De Jong as he had really just started establishing himself in the Milan midfield (in the opinion of Max Allegri). De Jong’s last match against Catania saw him complete 131 passes, something no Milan player has done this season (Second place is Montolivo’s 107 vs Sampdoria). While it may have been a one-off occasion, De Jong averaged the second-most passes per match  with 59.8 and was among the best passers in Serie A based on completion %.

De Jong cycled the ball as well as breaking up play, something Massimo Ambrosini has been able to do on occasion this season, but not with consistency as he averages 20 passes less per game than the Dutchman. Sulley Muntari doesn’t possess the passing chops to compare, although he offers more potential driving forward. Defensively, De Jong was also becoming accustomed to the positional differences of the Serie A, being bypassed with greater infrequency. Moretimes than not he steers the play wide to his fullbacks or channels the run into an on waiting central defender. Bakaye Traore doesn’t seem likely to feature for the Rossoneri again, while Mathieu Flamini has been ruled out because he’s “more of a trequartista than a defensive midfielder.

 Torino v Milan Post Match Comments

Pazzini scored his 6th goal, managing to score pedestrian goal after pedestrian goal. He’s yet to really gel into the side, perhaps as having a point of reference in the attack isn’t always the way to play, as Allegri has suggested. Pazzini usually offers little else besides his goals, as his hold-up play has been erratic in it’s application and execution, but today he hit more than he missed.

When all was said and done though, Milan ended with their first 3-game winstreak of the Serie A season. Furthermore, they have confirmed over the past month their ability to make the top 3 with the right types of signings in January. De Jong’s long-term rehabilitation should make this even more clear to the management, who already seem to have a plan in place. First will need to be the purge, which should see some of the fringe players leave (most likely as well as cult-hero Djamel Mesbah). Performances like this are why Allegri was held against the fire in the early-season. The team was capable of performances like this, it’s just unfortunate that it took traipsing through some atrocious formations (and 7 league matches) to get there.  De Jong’s injury will be what is remembered about this match, but the response to the injury will tell more about the future plans of the Rossoneri and their aspirations for this season.

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Reggina v Milan Post-Match Comments [Dec 13 2012]

Few Short Thoughts:

  • Why did Pazzini start? The system is already built to his strengths. The 4-3-3 that Milan uses focuses on crossing above all else. In fact, Milan as a whole have completed and attempted more crossing passes than any other side in the Champions League in the first phase. Pazzini has connected on zero of these balls with his head, which is his best weapon. Pazzini is a confidence striker, which may explain why he was fielded in this match. That being said, the fact that it took a match against an anemic Torino squad (in which he scored as a result of two individual errors on one play) to get this 2-game streak started. The upside is perhaps this will bring in a run of form. The downside is that we have to cater extra time that should have been used on other players (read: Niang) to get Pazzini firing on all cylinders.
  • I watched three players today. In most matches, if you want to really pay attention to a player, he requires much of your time, especially when the player doesn’t have the ball. When I see reports with 22 ratings of every player on the pitch, I wonder how it’s possible to REALLY pay attention to 22 players with the detail that you would want. For a cursory player ratings system in which nothing of real substance is learned – that’s fine. But if you want to get a good idea for how players are actually playing when they don’t have the ball (90% of the time) then you need to be focused on less players and not more.
  • Today I paid attention to Rodney Strasser’s debut, Rodrigo Ely on Reggina, and M’Baye Niang’s 4 minute duck being broken. Strasser impressed me significantly. His passing still requires an extra but of force and purpose, but that can be trained. His instinct for feeling pressure around him is excellent. He turned out of pressure multiple times, using his body well to shield and expose the first defender. A very promising debut from Strasser.
  • Ely had another story, as he probably doesn’t face the sort of defender that Giampolo Pazzini is too often. Ely was the CB who covered as opposed to stepping up, and his partner, Dario Bergamelli was frequently in charge of stepping out to deny Pazzini the ball when he dropped deep. Ely’s positioning after his partner stepped often left a lot to be desired, he was out of position on Niang’s goal (granted it was on the counter but his positioning was very poor), and he could have done better on Yepes goal, as he was one of two Reggina players who simply didn’t jump high enough to win the ball.
  • Finally, M’Baye Niang caught my eye. Not for his movement (which was Balotelli-esque in it’s sudden bursts of effort and apathy) which was alright, but requires work, but because of his confidence. Niang tried turns, whirls, nutmegs, and everything that you would expect a player used to getting his way with players his age would. Furthering this point, he needs to learn to direct his energy in a better manner, but considering that Niang hasn’t even played a full half of minutes (he’s at 43 minutes or so) he’s put one of his three shots in the back of the net. The finish on his goal was cool, slotted near-side and showed the touch of a much more mature player as he effortlessly directed Emanuelson’s through ball past an onrushing Facchin.

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Milan v Pescara Post-Match Comments [Dec 16 2012]

Some context:

Counting today’s loss Pescara have lost their last 6 away matches conceding 17 goals in that period. Pescara have never won at the San Siro in a top-flight match. Milan after today won their 4th consecutive league match – their longest streak of the season.


Milan were left-dependent in their build-up play again today, much like they did for most of last season.  This follows with their trend of playing more heavily on the left-flank than the right flank for home matches.

milpescaraattackside Milan v Pescara Post Match Comments

Attack Directions, Milan left, Pescara right

When playing away, Milan tend to use the right flank even more, which also corresponds with many of Emanuelson’s shifts to the right wing, where he will be tasked with crossing in balls and in charge of the buildup play.

Touches Home Milan v Pescara Post Match Comments

Milan Attack Buildup (Away)

Touches Away Milan v Pescara Post Match Comments

Milan Attack Buildup (Home)

Against Pescara, Milan put in a goal in the first minute, one created from balanced build-up play, smart moves in the final third, and incisive passing and movement. And then there were 44 minutes of terrible play to back that up. The first half ended as Pescara managed to kill the tempo of the match.

Partially as a response, Pescara attacked down their own left side, where Milan were paying less attention, especially positionally, as Pescara had most of their players on the left half of the field.

Screen Shot 2012 12 17 at 11.05.37 AM Milan v Pescara Post Match Comments

Milan v Pescara Positioning – Milan left, Pescara right

Overall, like the previous matches, individual errors decided the match. Two own goals from Pescara confirmed why they’re the at-large candidates for relegation. As positively as Milan played for stretches, they were just as poor for even more time. This is not quality opposition, and Milan benefit from a mediocre performance, and a large bit of luck. The streak of 4 wins is excellent though, and it’s up to B&G to top off this squad in January (which seems to be in the works) in order to get them competing for third place (6 points away).

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