Breaking down Milan’s defensive problems

30

FAN ARTICLE by Ashraf Siddiqui.

Milan have already let in 10 goals this season, which is nine more than what league leaders Roma conceded so it’s no surprise that the Rossoneri are just in the 12th place in Serie A. Ashraf Siddiqui looks at the goals conceded and analyzes.

Milan-Sampdoria: Probable formations
Video: Robinho against Bologna

Verona 2-1 Milan

Verona’s 1st goal: Milan defending a corner with Constant marking Luca Toni, who is tall and well known for his aerial prowess. Using Toni for dead ball situations is hardly a surprising and this should have been expected. This could have been countered by having a clear plan with Milan’s best header of the ball marking Toni, plus another player Milan player helping as well – the classic sandwich move. But, in this instance we see it was Constant alone against Toni. Shockingly, Milan had a number of spare players in the box who just stood by doing nothing. Outcome: Goal for Toni.

Verona’s first goal
Verona’s first goal

Verona’s 2nd goal: Open play with Jankovic with the ball at the edge of the box. As a defending side this was a nightmare – it had all the elements you could think of: central defender losing his man (Mexes chasing Romulo), overlapping runs untracked (Cacciatore), players out of position and just standing around and doing nothing to help defend (Montolivo, Nocerino, El Shaarawy). And amount of attacking/passing option Jankovic had at this point (4) is just shocking! He picked out Toni, who was odds on to beat Zapata, given that Zapata had his back turned to Toni and by the time Zapata turned to face Toni, it was too late.

Verona’s second goal
Verona’s second goal

Milan 3-1 Cagliari

Cagliari’s only goal: Sau gets a ball from a knockdown from a team mate who is able to succeed despite being sandwiched by Zapata and another player. The Milan players should have won the aerial battle then and there. And what was Zapata doing there in the first place? He was out of his position by miles!

So as Sau is attacking the Milan goal, we see Zapata rushing back and he does make up a lot of ground. Meanwhile, Mexes is backtracking and trying to stop Sau. Also, no sign of Abate, the right back given that the attack is coming from the right.Zapata continues his sprint back towards his goal, he does well and is on level with Sau. But, instead of trying to close down the space in front of Sau, Zapata inexplicably continues his run towards Milan goal. Sau, has enough space and time to shoot, Mexes tries a last ditch block but fails to get any contact with the ball. Zapata is now further behind Mexes and we see that Zapata’s head is in the trajectory of the ball as it moves towards the goal. Zapata then proceeds to duck to avoid contact with the ball and ball continues in its way and goes in.

We also see a couple of Cagliari players running towards the goal unchallenged, in the end they had no effect on the goal but had the shot been parried by the keeper these players could have easily scored from the rebound.

Cagliari’s goal
Cagliari’s goal
Cagliari’s goal
Cagliari’s goal
Cagliari’s goal

Torino 2-2 Milan

Torino’s 1st goal: Cerci’s cross finds D’Ambrosio sneaking in behind Zaccardo. D’Ambrosio has ‘all the time in the world’ to chest the ball down, take a few neat touches to turn Zaccardo inside out before shooting for the goal. And in the meanwhile, D’Ambrosio wasn’t closed down by any other Milan defenders, namely Zapata.

Torino’s first goal
Torino’s first goal
Torino’s first goal

Torino’s 2nd goal: In classic counter attack move, Cerci who is probably one of the fastest players in Serie A, if not the fastest was left unmarked with acres of space to run into. Very amateurish for Milan to leave the gates open like that and succumb to a goal like this.

Torino’s second goal
Torino’s second goal

Milan 1-2 Napoli

Napoli’s 1st goal: Napoli got this early free kick because of a unnecessary foul by Balotelli. The visitors said Grazie and took full advantage of a move that’s a training ground classic – hit and outswinger to the far post to one of your own players, who will then head the ball back across the goal for other players to attack on the near post. And it all went according to that script for Napoli.

Interesting to note that Insigne who didn’t really have any direct part in the move, made a counter run to Albiol’s run toward the far post. His job was probably to serve as some sort of decoy plus even receive the ball if Albiol headed the ball away from the byline. In the end Napoli was able to execute their training ground move without a hitch, first Abate fails to provide any real challenge to Albiol as he heads the ball back and then there were two Napoli players to attack the ball and there was no one marking them! Just criminal! And there were plenty of spare Milan players in the box (they outnumbered the attackers) but they were not doing anything to defend. Very very poor and unacceptable at this level of the game.

Napoli’s first goal
Napoli’s first goal
Napoli’s first goal

Napoli’s 2nd goal: This was all down to Higuain’s individual skill and effort. From a conventional angle it seemed like he had to pull off the move in a very tight space but this shot taken from the stands shows that he was given fair amount of space. But, credit to Higuian for making a goal out of thin air. What is very strange and worrying is Zapata seems to move away from attackers instead of closing down the space the attackers are running into – please note Sau’s (Cagliari’s) goal in Week2, Zapata did something similar. At this level you can’t afford to give world class players like Higuain even an inch of space, they will punish you. Just imagine what would happen against even faster (in terms of quick feet, not flat out sprinting) players like Messi, Ronaldo, Iniesta, etc?

Napoli’s second goal
Napoli’s second goal
Napoli’s second goal

Bologna 3-3 Milan

Bologna’s 1st goal: It all started with Milan’s midfield just napping. First, a Bologna player knocks down the ball without being challenged. The ball finds a teammate who also is unchallenged is able to flick the ball on to Laxalt who caught Abate napping. Abate is playing to close to his central defender and so not as tight on Laxalt as he could be. To make matters worse Laxalt is aware of the flick and is running full stretch to latch on to it, while Abate has his back turned to the Milan goal. So, by the time Abate turned and gave chase to Laxalt it was too late. And Laxalt is a quite fast player.
Bologna’s first goal
Bologna’s first goal
Bologna’s first goal

Bologna’s 2nd goal: Cross to the far post and the attacker heads it in….classic training ground move and it worked out perfectly for Bologna. Abate was poorly positioned and didn’t time his jump to meet the ball and wasn’t able to intercept the ball at all. And so Laxalt was able to head the ball into the goal. It seems like most Milan defenders are not very good at heading the ball. While it is much nicer to play with the ball on the ground, the reality is there will be aerial balls perhaps not so much in Serie A, but definitely in European matches. There is no hiding from it.

Bologna’s second goal
Bologna’s second goal

Bologna’s 3rd goal: Another classic training ground move. Attacker slips in between two central defenders with none picking him up and then he scores with a flicked header. Poor man marking costs Milan again. While it’s not always possible to stick to rigid man marking, there is no excuse for leaving an attacker unmarked in the box. There has to be some internal system/understanding between defenders as to what to do and they should be instinctive by now because they must have practiced this and every possible defensive eventuality. They must have. Right? If they can’t stop Cristaldo, what chance to they have against Ronaldo? He would eat this defence for breakfast any day!

Bologna’s third goal

Overall summary:

  1. Poor marking or more often no marking at all: Even if you are not the best header of the ball, just the fact that a defender is around the attacker will to certain extent throw the attacker off and sometimes that’s all it takes.
  2. Tracking back: Yes it’s tiring work but players chose to be midfielders and this how the modern game is. Everybody has to track back, especially midfielders. And not enough players are tracking back. Or they do come back but then just stand there watching…if they could come back this far, could they not just a bit more and just make it more difficult for attackers? There is no excuse for standing around, this is not a turn based game like chess!
  3. Not enough doubling up/helping out fellow defenders: Sandwiching Luca Toni would have been far more effective than just letting him go up against a lone defender or when D’Ambrosio was turning Zaccardo out, where was his back up? De Jong has been phenomenal this season so far, I would say he has just by himself prevented us from conceding another 10 extra goals. But, very few other players are showing that kind of resolve, commitment and work rate. Perhaps Poli to an extent. But, the rest, extremely poor. See how players like Vidal are all over the place, non-stop, that’s the standard our players have to reach if they want to win anything this season.
  4. Poor heading abilities: Yes doubling up can help but there will be instances where individuals will have to win aerial duels and at this point most Milan defenders perhaps barring Mexes are going to lose in aerial challenges against top strikers like Gomez, Lewandowski, Klose, Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic, Cavani, Falcao, Higuain, Benzema and the list goes on!
  5. Poor positioning and lack of plan/plan B: Often players are horribly out of position, Zapata stands out prominently. Abate has also been caught out of position. Furthermore, what is the plan to deal with overlapping runs, reverse passes and other attacking moves? Currently, Milan defenders seem to be caught out by training ground moves because they themselves haven’t practiced enough of their own training ground moves or may be not at all! The point of training and practicing things over and over again is that things become automatically ingrained in your head and you don’t have to spend time trying to recall things, at the moment that’s what it looks like Milan defenders are doing – trying to remember what they learned in football school when they were children!

30
Leave a Reply

avatar
25 Comment threads
5 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
28 Comment authors
kingsley ~ templerYKAyodaygeeacmilanthekidRnB Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
Notify of
Ouch!
Guest
Ouch!

Solution. Fire allegri!

yhTT
Guest
yhTT

You’re a better analyser than allegri.. why didnt allegri understand that we needed defenders and not Matri! ahhh god dammit! 12m!! just wasted…

phillmicester
Guest

so now i wonder if allegri even has a tatical plan

YK
Guest
YK

He does have a plan. Make whatever money he can from Milan and than after getting fired coach a serie C side.

Idmilanista
Guest
Idmilanista

He said it all.

flooresens
Guest
flooresens

Yo, the players & Allegri already know that.. that’s why we got so many injuries for trying it at practice sessions.

Goddamnit Max!! 12M for Matri… i don’t wanna see Milan getting relegated this season

One more thing: Why does almost all of our NEW PLAYERS always got INJURED before they play their first official match or regain their competitive fitness?

Something is rotting at Milanello.. smell it!

Cowmagnet
Guest
Cowmagnet

There may actually be something wrong. I’ve noticed this trend as well. It seems like it happens every season. We buy someone, they spend however long injured, finally play, suck. Also, Pato is claiming the Milan docs caused his frequent injuries. Maybe its not complete bull…who knows…

1five1
Guest

nah…just #blameallegri. Its easier dat way.

YASER7
Guest
YASER7

This IS allegri’s fault. He is supposed to do the training programs, including the defending practices.

charles
Guest
charles

Interesting!!!!

yhTT
Guest
yhTT

(Milan level players VS Non Milan level players)

Maldini, Nesta > zapata, urby, zacarrdo, bonera..
Ruud Gullit, Frank rijkaard > Noccerino, birsa, muntari..
shevchenko, inzaghi > Matri, pazzini, robinho..

God help us..

Dooba
Guest
Dooba

Stop living in the past, right we are only a shadow of what we used to be, but we are Milan, and this is how Milan is right now.

Boban4ever
Guest
Boban4ever

Historically one could argue that Milan had the best defense of all time in the late 80s/early 90s. Later on that legacy was carried by great defenders namely Nesta, Cafu, Stam, and Thiago Silva. To see this tragic defending is heart breaking. I said this before and I will repeat. You can’t teach Italians how to defend. They invented the art defending for the love of football. We need at least one Italian Center Back. This is like Brazil having a shortage of strikers. Just absurd. Allegri must take the blame. He is tactically shallow. I sincerely hope Capello returns… Read more »

kelvin
Guest
kelvin

Its kinda ironic how we’ve been suffering with aerial balls leading to goals and crosses etc yet they decided to buy a striker instead…because Allegri thinks the Zapata/Mexes pairing is the best in the league when evidently IT ISN’T!!!

dejan10
Guest
dejan10

I didn’t have time to go through all of our blunders… All I know is we only have ONE defender worthy of wearing the Milan shirt — DeSciglio.

Mainz
Guest

Allegri lovers in your face, try and defend him now

ChrisMilan
Guest

Looking at all the incidents, I was looking at Mexes when he had no one to mark. He should be the one not starring at the ball but to look around for danger that has not been spotted by his teammates and give them awareness through shouting. I remember when I played football, I had a great winning mentality because I really am addicted to the game. I want to win at all cost. I tell players they have an opponent running towards a blind spot behind them. I tell them play it simple when it’s needed etc. If you… Read more »

RnB
Guest
RnB

Chris, that’s an excellent point. Defending requires talent, training AND coordination/communication – and that requires players constantly talking to each other, especially in defence. Regardless of who the captain is, someone in defence has to take charge and constantly shout orders and warnings. That’s exactly how smaller teams with less talented defenders often put up a great fight because they have great team spirit and excellent communication.

babsorh45
Guest
babsorh45

Great analysis….I wish allegri can see this and make amendments #forzamilan

chris007
Guest
chris007

we have a big problem!!! period!!!

Some Guy
Guest
Some Guy

Wow, this really opened my eyes. I never thought that most of the goals were actually Zapata’s mistakes, I always thought he was the better of the two CBs. Plus, at least we are getting better. I see on Verona’s goal, there were many written things on the pic, and there were 3 or 4 players unmarked. We now have a clean sheet though, and hopefully that continues. FORZA MILAN!!

aquaintance
Guest
aquaintance

Milan is(was) known much for its success and great defending, but know it seem it’s the complete opposite.
I agree, Matri’s transfer money could of funded a fundamental defensive reinforcement.

YASER7
Guest
YASER7

What we need in addition to the training is a defense leader. Kind of what @ChrisMilan is talking about. Nesta was doing that and Maldini as well. Now, apparently we don’t have anyone doing this. De Sciglio is probably the best option for that but he is not going to win many aerial challenges.

udochukwu
Guest
udochukwu

only if allegri and tassotti will do their home work too.

Jibola
Guest
Jibola

I remember in an interview granted by thiago Sliva about Nesta, he said they didn’t get along at first because he thought Nesta was talking too much and called him “Radio”. But today he appreciates all the radio talk by Nesta during their time together because it is what made him the best defender in the world. Center backs are leaders and they dish out instructions when necessary, Mexes and De Jong are doing this, i saw a recent viral video where Mexes was motivating our players in the tunnel against PSV during the play offs. What i conclude from… Read more »

Emilo
Guest
Emilo

Milan need total overhauling of our defense, we don’t have defenders now. We miss De Sciglio in that defense

Marijo
Guest
Marijo

Mexes and De Sciglio are only good defenders in our team… Sad, but true.

And there is a general lack of good defenders in Europe. Shame we missed on Benatia

acmilanthekid
Guest
acmilanthekid

Ive been a long time Milan fan and it hurts my heart to see them defend against set plays. Every corner or free kick i see going in i get nervous bcuz i know its 80%-20% that the opposing team scores. Mexes – Zapata pairing is not the best, Zapata is too error prone and Mexes is not a leader, its sad but its the truth. We all know Max isn’t the most creative coach he has no ideas and no tactics,, its just positions on paper. As said previously 12 mil on Matri was a WASTE!!!!! we needed a… Read more »

Ayodaygee
Guest
Ayodaygee

I ve always looked at the pain Allegri as caused me and wept! The only thing that kips me going is d mere fact that I believe that those closer to d team like Galliani and Berlusconi should feel my pain x3. So am surprised why they can still breathe thru’ all of this mess Allegri has cause us. We attack enmass wiv no creativity. Roma gets goals scroed with a maximum of 4 players in game play or sometimes only 3 and not all their goals were thru’ d counter attack…pls check this fact out. I can bet with… Read more »

kingsley ~ templer
Guest

I just have one Question for us … Who are the Technical back-room staff of the Rossoneris? … Look at other clubs today and we see what assistance their former Legends bring those Clubs … are Milan Management trying to tell me with all the legends we had … the shell of our Technical deparment is still that shallow … (Somebody once made a joke of Milan with Zidane at Madrid) Milan is run by two people “Allegri on the picth” and “Uncle Fester in a Hotel Balcony”