Team news: Sassuolo were without Timo Letschert, Cristian Dell’Orco, Claud Adjapong, Edoardo Goldaniga, Alfred Duncan, Davide Frattesi and Domenico Berardi. Milan hda to do without Andrea Conti, Matteo Gabbia, Lucas Biglia, Giacomo Bonaventura and Niccolò Zanellato; Ricardo Rodriguez was originally in the squad but wasn’t even on the bench due to a mild muscle fatigue. Kickoff time for Matchday 12 was 20:45 CET / Italy time at Mapei Stadium – Città del Tricolore.

Goals: Romagnoli (40′), Suso (67′).

U.S. Sassuolo Calcio (4-3-3) – Cristian Bucchi
Andrea Consigli; Marcello Gazzola, Paolo Cannavaro, Francesco Acerbi, Federico Peluso; Simone Missiroli, Luca Mazzitelli, Francesco Cassata (55′ Alessandro Matri); Matteo Politano (83′ Rogério), Diego Falcinelli, Antonino Ragusa (70′ Nicholas Pierini).
Unused: Marson, Pegolo, Magnanelli, Biondini, Sensi, Scamacca, Lirola.

AC Milan (3-4-2-1) – Vincenzo Montella
Gianluigi Donnarumma; Cristian Zapata, Leonardo Bonucci, Alessio Romagnoli; Davide Calabria (13′ Ignazio Abate), Franck Kessié, Riccardo Montolivo, Fabio Borini (81′ Luca Antonelli); Suso, Hakan Çalhanoğlu (64′ Manuel Locatelli), Nikola Kalinić.
Unused: A. Donnarumma, Storari, Gomez, Paletta, Musacchio, Mauri, Cutrone, André Silva.

Referee: Antonio Damato.

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126 COMMENTS

  1. Clueless game still goes on. Am I the only one who saw a 3-6-1 formation? Playing with 2 trequartistas and 4 man’s midfield brings a lot of small spaces and disturbing positioning for the players. Reason why this formation doesn’t work.

    DONNARUMMA 7 – Decent performance. Finally sees the light to play the ball long instead of his 5 meter ball build-up play.

    ROMAGNOLI 6 – Thanks to his sloppy goal a higher rating. But very passive defending with the opponent in front of him. Doesn’t close in and let the opponent pass.

    BONUCCI 8 – Strong play, finally. Defended flawlessly.

    ZAPATA 6 – Played quite ok. Sometimes a bit unlucky but poor in build-up play.

    BORINI 6 – Although his work rate not good enough for Milan.

    MONTOLIVO 7 – Played quite ok, some good passes. But in anyway better than Biglia at this moment.

    KESSIE 7 – Played quite ok. Few ball losses but some very strong runs.

    ABATE 7 – Decent performance.

    CALHONOGLU 6 – In my opinion, this guy could play as a playmaker. Very good passing but underperformed due his position. Trequartista is not his position!!

    SUSO 7 – Poor first 60 minutes. Too much stalling of the game. Last 30 minutes were good. Needs to find the balance when to pass directly and when to dribble!! Scored from his familiar position, right winger. Montella did you saw this too?! I doubt it.

    KALINIC 5 – Poor performance. Poor ball handling.

    LOCATELLI 7 – Yesssssss. I saw Grinta!!!

    GENERAL – I would return to the 4-3-3 formation. So the midfielders have the space against and know what to do. With the wingers Milan is able to attack from the left and right with Suso on his best position. In matter of fact I would play like this:

    ————-Donnarumma————-

    Zapata – Bonucci – Musacchio – Romagnoli

    Kessie – Montolivo – Bonaventura

    Suso – Cutrone – Silva

    With this formation you build further on the basic structure of the previous seasons with Donnarumma, Romagnoli, Bonaventura, Suso and you can use Locatelli everywhere on the midfield.

    • Your ratings are too high. You are giving the same rating to man of the match Suso and Abate? Don’t give everyone 7!! Most of them should be between 4-6.

      • They have the same rating because Abate played the 70 minutes very decent. Suso played the first 60 minutes awful.

        Bonucci was man of the match in my opinion

    • 4 CBs? Now that’s interesting! Don’t hate the idea at all. But my midfield and attack formations would be a little different in that case. Something like this (4-1-3-2):

      Zapata – Bonucci – Musacchio – Romagnoli

      Kessié

      Suso – Çalhanoglu – Bonaventura

      Cutrone – Silva

      A strong defensive first line with Kessié in front, anchoring the midfield (without the need for him to go up front too much). Then a creative 3-men line to serve two talented strikers. Boy, sign me up for that. That’s the opposite of ‘total football’ and I love it! Going back to the origins… 5 players defending with little responsibility on offense; 5 men attacking with little responsibility defending.

      Obs.: just to be clear, “little responsibility” doens’t mean no responsibility 😉

      • Interesting, but what would you do with the rushes Kessie can give? In my eyes he is a strong and fast box-to-box player, not a playmaker.

        • I guess you’re right. I was thinking a Gattuso role for him there, but a playmaker with good defensive awareness and work rate (looking at you, Loca) would probably be the best option to that position. Kessie could sub in for any of the 5 guys ahead for a change in formation, when needed, to reinforce the D; and he’s versatile enough to sub in for any of the 5 behind too, I s’pose – could be a great bench player and spark plug.

    • “CALHONOGLU 6 – In my opinion, this guy could play as a playmaker. Very good passing but underperformed due his position. Trequartista is not his position!!”

      Xo where exactly is his position if not trequartista???

      • I think Calhonoglu is a more Defensive Midfielder than an attacking one. So I would test him out in a CM position.

        • You have no idea of Calhanoglu if you see him like a defensive midfielder. So much for “seeing details”

          • Because a lot of guys here complain about Montella playing players out of position, and you come with the genius solution to play Hakan, a trequartista, as a defensive mid? Why? He can slide tackle? Cutrone runs around a lot, should we perhaps try him in midfield in a Gattuso role?

          • Could be, but Cutrone is a real forward with a nose to score. Calhonoglu on the other hand, has very fast game transfers and very good passing and shots. He can act very fast and precise with his passing. So, this is a very important skill for a playmaker. And a playmaker is a position Milan really need. Montolivo and Biglia are not good enough anymore.
            Then, if you look at my first 11 proposal, you will find everyone in his position. Only Zapata should replace Conti as long as he is injured. Calhonoglu has the skills to be a playmaker. Take a look at Pirlo, was he a playmaker? No, he was an attacking midfielder / forward. But Ancelotti saw his skills. Comparison to Pirlo? No, Calhonoglu will never have that level, but for the time being I would test it out.

          • He might be on to something though. Hakan clearly was a better fit as a trequartista in Germany. But Italy is different. I can totally see him playing as a regista in Serie A. Not comparing the two, but Pirlo also started as a trequartista and was later moved back and went to become one of the best players in the world as a regista. Again, not comparing, but Hakan skillset is kinda similar to that of Pirlo. So that’s not a completely crazy idea. Might be worth a shot.

          • Why would you try it though, when we have Montolivo, Biglia and Locatelli all in the same position? Do you think he will do better than them? Pirlo is one of a kind, I also thought of him, but since I think the comparison is out of question I didnt think of mentioning them in the same breath.
            @Daniel Medeiros, so I guess Özil should be deployed as a regista once he was at madrid and now at arsenal, instead of trequartista right? Or is it only Italy that is different than the rest of the leagues? Of all the experiments we’ve experienced, the only ones that have worked in recent years are Abate turned into a right back and Borini as a wing back. Abate worked because of his work rate and him working with Tassotti and Nesta mentoring him, while Borini has his excellent physique helping him out. Do we know anything about Hakans positional sense? Do we have time to experience to try it out? No to both. Besides Pirlo had Gattuso/Ambrosini and Seedorf who ran around like crazy and helped him out.

          • ok, @Milanista121, read the parts that are convenient to you and ignore the rest. What I said is Hakan’s skill set is similar do Pirlo’s. I don’t think Özil’s is – even though I don’t think he’d do bad as a regista either, but that’s beside the point. Also, I agree we have Loca to play there too, but he’s way more versatile than Çalhanoglu and could play perfectly well the Seedorf role – both hard workers, with finesse and good passing and shooting – so yes, I would try that. Lastly, I’m not saying it’s definitly gonna work, just saying it COULD. I see a lot of talent in Hakan, but he’s obviously not working the way he’s being played. Why not try something different instead of just waste his talent in a role that’s not fitting him?

          • @milanista121, does Calhonoglu convince now? No he doesn’t. Only good trainers and football analysts like me and Daniel Medeiros see the potential of Calhonoglu on a different position. So yes, why shouldn’t Milan give it a try?! Ok, Maybe Montella doesn’t see the potential like we do.
            @Daniel Medeiros, nice to have a good football visionair at this blog

          • Answering both of you guys: So just because Hakan isn’t performing currently, trequartista suddenly isn’t his role? That’s basically what you’re saying. Bonucci COULD work as a regista as well, should we play him there just because he hasn’t performed as a centre back so far?
            And Mathijs, If you’re such a football visionaire I really wonder what you’re doing commenting on this blog and not coaching in the big league man. All hail Mathijs the great!!!!

          • @Mathijs Savicevic thank you, man! It surely is nice to talk new ideas with people who understand football and have some vision. On the other hand, I guess some people just refuse to think outside of the box even a little bit, it’s a shame…

  2. Despite winning away 0-2 I didn’t see anything special and if we play a well organized side they will surely beat us

  3. Good three points on tough stadium for us. Bonucci made my day with some of his moves.
    Even if we won this one I gotta say that Sassuolo was fairly awfull, like Chievo 10 days ago and Suso, well with him stoped we are fucked. Montella still doesn’t have a clue and it would be for the best if they replace him during this int break.

  4. Hm, thinking about the game made me realize that I didnt miss Ricardo Rodriguez one bit, which makes me think, was he really that much of an upgrade from previous defenders?

    • I was thinking recently, and he is a very slow fullback. We really lack pace this season. And partially why our buildup is so slow.

      Very few players to make surging runs at pace

      • Yeah thats why its a shame that Conti got injured, and Calabria keeps getting injured and Abate doesnt seem to have the coaches faith… And like you said, just look at our counter attack today, it was one specific time and we had Suso, Hakan and Kalinic running…not anyone of them could hurt their back line and they have slow defenders. Rodriguez is solid but he doesnt have what it takes to play as a wing back if you ask me. In a four man back line he can play like Kolarov, solid defending and when he moves up whip in wicked crosses.

    • Someone already predicted RicRod to be decent but not an upgrade – and then got banished and hated :p

      Vital 3 points, we need to play consistently.
      Romagnoli and Bonucci both were superb, Loca was awesome as usual, Free Kick Kid was useless as usual, we need Bona back desperately.
      Monto performed a lot better than ‘the best DM in the league’ lolBiglialol, that was awesome.
      Donna is the ONLY consistent player in the team and showing week in week out why he is the most valuable player we have.
      Kessie was decent, hope he gets his form back. Inconsistency seems to be everyone’s problem.
      And Suso is the only player who can do anything threatening. Let’s hope his release clause is not met by Real in winter.

      • RR is good, talented left foot also, I do see him as an improvement over de traitor and antonelli, he is not as fast as conti but he surely is nimble, and aquibiglia, that was the only buy I didn’t like, we have a mauri to develop, I think the managment thought about the usual injury of Montolivo, but when in form he is always a solid performer, im glad to see him starting, kessie hasn’t earn my trust, he needs to be more consistent

    • You will all think im crazy but in a lack of attacking fullbacks at the time I would try Kessie on one of the flanks. He is fast, strong and runs like crazy. Besides, he is not giving all of it in current position, and I would rather give chance to Loca.
      R.R. is just to slow to make a difference in our style of play. In Premier league they got the message, buy fast players and fine passers. That is the key of modern football.

    • I think RicRod is clearly an improvement over MDS, way better, and also better than Antonelli (which cannot play an entire season in his shape anyways).

      I agree RicRod is better as an LB than as a winger, but MDS would have been even more useless on the wing than he was on LB imo.

      He’s lack of speed is his main weakness, yes, but other that RicRod is almost perfect. I think we should question every other signing we made in the summer before we question him.

  5. Tbh borini has been playing well but Rodriguez is a fixed 11 he’s so calm and his set pieces are world class. Credit where its due. Bonucci finally put in a bonucci performance. Hopefully he’s back to be in st his best. Suso is so important to this team and and O think Silva needs his chance st a consecutive 90 mins. Kalinic isn’t doing it at the moment.. It wasn’t a great game by milan but an important one. Got the win and hopefully after this for the 400th time I say it we can build from it. Abate doesn’t look like himself

  6. @Milanista 121
    I am afraid you may be reading too much into this game if you think this game proves Rodriguez is not an upgrade. This is Sassuolo. A team that has not won a single home game all season and has scored only one goal at home all season. They also have the worst goal difference after Benevento and Genoa (that we ironically drew with).
    Had we started the season well, we would be playing Mauri, Cutrone, Gabbia in this match

    • Do you think Rodriguez has done anything out of the ordinary since he joined? He has been solid, nothing more or less, only extra thing he adds compared to old and current full backs is that he is dead ball specialist with a wicked left foot.

      That’s like when Sir Alex Ferguson hustled Liverpool into buying Charlie Adam saying his left foot alone is worth 20 million, but he didnt last very long. So far we have paid 20 million for dead ball specialist. 45 if you add Hakan into it, two players who dont offer a lot more than great crossing or free kicks.

      • Rodriguez compared the other lb we’ve had has done more than any could. Defend, put a decent cross into the box and score a goal. Don’t forget Rodriguez is still 24 and plays like a senior. His first two months have been great at milan and hopefully they get better.

        • I agree. LB or CB is not and issue at Milan. The main problem with this team is tactics and formation.

          Hakan Calhanoglu has not done well as a playmaker.

          Montella should play him out on the left wing. Or sell him and get either Di Maria or Pulissic for the left wing and Pastore for the trequartista role.

          We also need a good defensive midfielder like van Bommel to play infront of the defence. Tired of Montolivo and Biglia already.

          Bonucci needs to stop playing like a quarterback. Too many useless long balls.

          Honestly speaking, Milan desparately need a top striker who can deliver the goals.

          I wouldnt have a problem if we sell Andre Silva next summer and get Belotti or Aubameyang.

          Cutrone is young and doing well for his first season, Kallinc is an experience striker that will be useful.

          Andre Silva is still young, new to Serie A and needs more time to adapt.

          Juve have Higuain, Napoli have Mertens and Insigne, Inter have Icardi, Roma have Dzeko and Lazio have Immobile.

          Milan need Belotti or Aubameyang Plain and simple!

          • Nick, the 4 players you’re asking for Auba, Pastore, Pullisic/DeMaria, and a top experienced DM cost at least 250 mil. We won’t have that kind of cash next summer.

        • Guys, you missed my point, he has been one of the best performers out of our signings, yes, but that alone speaks for itself because I didnt miss him on the pitch yesterday, which makes me question the impact he has had on the team. You guys make fair points, although @Baresis Dream, MDS has played as a wing back several times for the national team, to great effect, remember last years Euros? He also had the pace. He looked disinterested though and Antonelli is injured a lot. However, we should’ve gone for Zappacosta or Darmian alongside Conti. Think they both would add more value on either flank they would play in.
          So far out of our signings, Musa has hands down been our best, Silva is seriously underplayed. Hard to judge Kalinic because he doesnt get a lot of service form a team that doesnt work like it should, Kessie is inconsistent, Biglia has been underperforming like crazy. Ric started great but has also had a dip, Conti injured, Bonucci hopefully, and I reaaaallly hope this is the case is finding his form and showing his mental strength after an abysmal start.
          We dont need strikers, we dont need midfielders, what we need is one, just one, world class playmaker, to connect midfield and attack, we have been missing one basically since Kaka left but had other players to make up for it, but since the senators left, we have been missing a true playmaker.

      • Milanista121, how can you say he’s been solid and then ask what upgrade did he bring? That’s exactly it my friend – MDS nor Antonelli (last couple of seasons) and especially not the Argentinian whose name I already forgot have been solid defensively through more than 2-3 consecutive matches.

        That’s the upgrade RicRod brings – solid defending. And as a bonus he’s a free kick specialist and can spread the game quite nicely in the build up.

        • Well, i feel we wasted money on Calhanoglu, Andre Silva, Biglia and Bonucci. Players that have underperformed or not yet lived up to the hype.

          Bonucci cost 42mil – Didnt need him, we already had Musacchio and Romagnoli.

          Calhanoglu cost 25mil. Major doubts around his ability to perform at a top club like Milan.

          Andre Silva cost 38mil – a major risk, even though the poor guy hasnt been given the chance to play. Dont know why.

          Biglia cost 17mil. Too slow. Milan need someone like Toni Kroos. This signing is a bust.

          Thats a total of 122mil.

          If your 250mil estimate is right for the 4 players i mentioned, which i highly doubt(no offense) since those fees have to be negotiated, then Milan would only need an additional 128mil to sign all the players i mentioned.

          Thats not at a lot for our chinese owners.

  7. One thing we always forget is the fact that this guys were just bought and team chemistry is not there. Again the tough matches we played destroyed our confidence and these boys still play out of we are Milan trying to revive the name and the confidence. Though montella has his fault too. But it’s only natural for coaches to experiment. Let me remind you great mind do things differently.
    Don’t you guys feel it is easy for him to play 4-3-3 or four man defence. But he saw something in the team and I belive he is trying to build them in that manner.
    I must tell you gradually the team is taking shape. Suso now plays in the middle. Out to the right. Makes it difficult for defenders to mark him. Check the game two man marking is what has been used for Suso. Against Juv too same thing. But I can see a Suso that will soon be the power house of any team cos he is now learning to play very well under pressure.
    Again Milan needs to find someone that will lift the pressure off this shoulders cos all teams know if you shut Suso down you have shut Milan down. So hakan has to step up real quick before bonaventura takes his form.
    Another thing romagnoli too is getting his form and making name with three man defence. Also yest day I saw a different bonucci. And mind you this has brought out the best from borini. And week in week out he is performing. He assisted the goal of Suso yest day. Also calabria is beginning to play more like conti which will make it difficult for conti to break into the starting 11 when he is back.
    Yesterday I saw a defence that is learning how to soak pressure and do some thing good on the counter. A win at their stadium yest day wasn’t a easy one. We all know that.
    Lastly individual error has been reduced now cos most games we lost has been caused by individual error. So it’s looking more like it. Just we need our midfielders to pick up form and feed the strikers properly. Not Suso doing the whole thing.
    Am not saying montella is a pro, but am only saying that there is some positive in the work he is doing.
    Lastly on Napoli match that is to come, I must tell you that those guys have lost the mentality of winning after mancity trashed them. It’s now we can capitalise on that. At least we should defeat one big team. I just pray we do so. We should just try to avoid defeat.
    Milan blood I can never wish them to lose even if the coach is a fool. Forza Milan!!!

  8. I welcome the victory as I support the club. We have a bigger problem at hand which is Montella and after this victory, the pressure for him to be replaced has decreased.

    Now we’ll go back to playing clueless football and lose/draw 2-3 matches then win one and he’ll tell us “The team has cohesion.” whereas we are playing predictable football “Pass-To-Suso” and hope for the best.

    Forza Milan from South Africa.

  9. Let’s hope he won’t want to leave for Real Madrid, as he said he wants to win with Milan.

    Biglia and Hakan will come around but I still want Loca to play more than he does as he performs most of the time he plays. Monto is slowly gaining confidence and I hope he will flourish like a wine (Be like Pirlo after he moved to Juve) as does most Italians. Calabria is just unlucky.

  10. Most fans here wanted Montolivo to go because of biglia now we can all see, we won with unconvincing performance, I was dosing even during the game, boring not even as last season game against same team, kali has to play for 90 minutes when it’s obvious he is not doing anything on the pitch, Montella is dulling, someone should save Milan from this coach.

  11. Some were also asking why we signed Conti and today we see why we miss him so much. Taking nothing away from borini. But when a player who’s been attacking all his life suddenly starts over Abate calabria and antonelli as a wing back you understand. Abate I like but maybe the coach doesn’t believe in his qualities. He hasn’t been himself. For calabria I feel sorry cause of his injuries and antonelli has also been injured a lot but hasn’t looked good while coming on. Rodriguez and Conti in this formation add guarantees and unfortunately Conti has a lengthy spell out. But when I look back over the years to see people like constant, de sciglio, taiwo etc. Rodriguez is finally something of class.

  12. After the Napoli game the pressure gone be much higher, I didn’t like what I saw , Milan won, the FIFA break save Montella for a moment but after the Napoli game we will see where Montella and the team stand.

  13. The regista is retiring. Oh Pirlo.

    One of my sweetest small sporting moments was in the 2007 semi final against Man United at the San Siro. Pirlo was overcrowded by like 3 United midfielders when I surrendered and thought he’s already lost the ball the meastro then went with his little ‘pretending to turn one side then suddenly pull to the opposite side’ technique to fake and send those poor United players to the wrong direction before switching the play to Jankulovski waaay to the other side of the pitch. That was magical and my amazed cousin -An English football fan watching with me was like “Wtf how did he see that guy(Janko)?” Lol I still use to remind him of that move.

    I find it hard to forgive Allegri and Galliani for how they foolishly managed to pull the worst transfer in history ever by letting him for free and to a direct rival were without Pirlos contributions Milan could have easily back to backed the scudetto. Despite what some Milan fans try to say about Pirlo he remains my biggest footballing icon after Maldini. Great career Andrea. The game will miss you.

    • It’s a sad day, he had a thing for embarrassing English players. He’s neither fast nor physically strong but is more intelligent with the ball at his fit. Something some fans don’t even know here exist all they want is speed.

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