5 things we learned from Real Madrid 0-0 Milan

SHANGHAI, CHINA - JULY 30: Niang M'baye Hamady of AC Milan contests the ball against Casemiro (R) of Real Madrid during the International Champions Cup match between Real Madrid and AC Milan at Shanghai Stadium on July 30, 2015 in Shanghai, China.  (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
Niang M’baye contests the ball against Casemiro during the International Champions Cup match between Real Madrid and Milan at Shanghai Stadium on July 30, 2015 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Milan rounded off their brief International Champions Cup campaign with a loss on penalties against Real Madrid in Shanghai.

Madrid, as a result of their 10-9 victory on penalties, won the ICC despite the two sides being level at 0-0 after 90 minutes.

It was a solid display from the Rossoneri, especially the back line, and all-in-all it has to be said that the Champions Cup has been beneficial for the team and for Mihajlovic in terms of experimentation.

With that being said, here are five things that I took from the game:


1. Ely making serious claim for starting spot

As aforementioned, the whole Milan defensive unit could be very proud of their efforts during this game against a very talented Real Madrid line-up that saw the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Isco and James Rodriguez all feature.

One man who really stood out for Il Diavolo however was Rodrigo Ely, the central defender who Milan re-signed from Avellino having departed the club in 2014.

Without exaggerating, Ely stopped the powerful Real Madrid front three (most notably Gareth Bale) in the first half, showing superb composure and exceptional decision making to thwart some of the best footballers in the world currently.

Rodrigo is really pushing Sinisa Mihajlovic by producing such displays, and on the evidence he has shown us in the preseason so far it would be very difficult to leave him out of the defence altogether even with an addition.

Of course, the likes of Gabriel Paletta, Philippe Mexes, Alex (if not sold) and Cristian Zapata (same as Alex) will all have something to say about the issue.


2. Zapata providing selection headache?

The last point about centre-backs competing for a place in the line-up leads nicely on to Cristian Zapata.

A large portion of Milanisti have already lost patience with Zapata, as he seemingly has all the tools to be a superb defender, but for whatever reason cannot do this on a consistent basis.

There is the added frustration that for Colombia, Cristian seems to turn out wonderful performances against some of the most talented and skilful opponents, as demonstrated in the recent Copa America tournament.

In the game against Real Madrid, though, he looked back to his best, at least for 45 minutes. Sharp, agile, decisive; all the qualities we have come to expect of Zapata and which he hasn’t delivered for Milan consistently.

Nevertheless, while there is no talk of him moving on, it would be foolish to rule him out of the picture altogether, and displays like today will help his cause no end.


3. Cerci out of chances?

Another cause of frustration for Milan has been the complete no-show of Alessio Cerci since his loan arrival from Atletico Madrid.

At Torino, Cerci was comfortably one of the best players in the league, forming a dynamic duo with Ciro Immobile that took i Toro into the Europa League qualifying stage. He scored 21 goals for the Maroons before his big-money move to the Spanish capital, where he completely failed to make an impression, not scoring a single goal in his six appearances.

Milan was seen as a fresh start and a career reboot for him; a chance to regain some form and re-establish his true playing style. Things just haven’t gone well, however, and patience is wearing thin with the former-Fiorentina man.

Just before the match against Madrid, comments circulated online in which Cerci described himself as “second to none” when he “trains well” in an interview with Tuttosport.

Following those remarks up with another ‘headless chicken’ style performance was not the right thing to do, and it appears any potential for him to become a big impact player here at Milan has evaporated completely.

Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

4. Still decisions to be made at CAM

A very hotly discussed issue so far this offseason has been the position behind the two strikers and who should occupy it. I am currently working on a separate feature based on this competition, so I don’t want to go into too much detail with this point.

After this game, though, I feel it important to suggest that Mihajlovic will be no closer to solving the problem.

We saw a combination of Suso and Honda used in the game, with the Spaniard having the first half and the Japanese international the second. Neither really provided any real talking points and both struggled to get into the game at all, which as I mentioned doesn’t make things any clearer.

Of course, it has been mentioned that Jeremy Menez will occupy that position as a CF/CAM, but he has been injured and hasn’t partaken in any preseason action so far so judgement must be reserved on the Frenchman.

Also thrown in to the mix are Giacomo Bonaventura and to an extent perhaps Niang and Cerci (although both highly unlikely), plus any new additions (*cough* Zlatan *cough*), which promises to make things extra difficult for Sinisa.

Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

5. Options in midfield

Sort of similar to the last point, this is another selection dilemma for Mihajlovic with regards to what combination of midfield three he lines up with in the 4-3-1-2.

Before the first preseason games, the most logical partnership would be De Jong in the middle of Bertolacci and either Poli or Montolivo, and some may still feel that way.

One man who will be knocking on the door though would be Jose Mauri, who was hugely impressive today in the second half, providing an exuberance of youthfulness and enthusiasm that then resonated through the other ten players.

Jose has all the potential qualities to ideally slot into the left or right prong of a midfield three, despite being small in presence and stature, and there is no doubt he can grow into a wonderful player.

Perhaps the vast majority thought that at just 18 and with not a lot of match practice it would be too soon to thrust the youngster into the line-up, but Jose Mauri has answered those people with that display.

An honorable mention must go to Gianluigi Donnarumma, who at just 16 years of age played an outstanding role in the penalty shootout, rescuing the team from the jaws of defeat with a clutch save. The fact his penalty was saved should be completely erased from everybody’s memory.

Also, Luca Antonelli produced a very strong showing today, reaffirming why, in my opinion, he has one of the starting full-back spots already locked down.

So, those are the five lasting impressions I got from the match against Real Madrid. I can confirm that the ‘5 things’ series will continue throughout the remainder of preseason and into 2015-16, and I look forward to exchanging more opinions with viewers.

Article by Oliver Fisher

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Among the many things, i learned that niang has to stay with the club. He would be a great substitute for bacca or luiz adriano


Agree, De Sciglio, Ely, Niang, Suso, Calabria and Mauri are all young with extreme potential… I just hope we wont sell any of them… With De Jong, Bertolacci, Bonaventura, Poli and Mauri we are set for midfield trio.. Nocerino and Monty are just taking places from youth… Suso will be great, he needs to fit in, but im worried about honda, i know he is much better than this last performances, but how long does it take to get in form?? We need real CAM… With Romagnoli we are set for Defense this year… FB Abate, DeSc, Calabria and Antonelli,… Read more »

ACMilanSince 69

Shows we have decent players. The dilettante coaches Inzaghi and Seedorf were the problem.


Nicely put together but i really dont think Montolivo should play anymore for milan we have better midfielders so i dont think its really wise to start or even play him and dont give me the whole captain thing Montolivo is not a captain


Why does everybody say this about Montolivo. I think that when it comes to passing. He’s the only player in our team who can actually play decent long balls. If we play against teams and try to dominate possession. We are going to need Montolivo. He also has by far the most Serie A experience out of all our midfielders.


I totalt agree with you bro, the thing is though, that he has lost his touch…trust me i want him to get back to his best, as it would be like a new signing for us, but this was his case at Viola too…he was great, then he became captain and lost his touch.. He was young so i thought he couldnt deal with the pressure, then he came to Milan and had a fantastic first great season, he even performed better wen he was wearing the captains armband, i thought he had matured, as he had Aldo started to… Read more »


Thou I didn’t see the game but I believe milan had a great game nd .imo. I think ely should be amond the starting XI because the guy has been impressing thumbs up to miha for involving the right spirit into the group….FORZA MILAN per sampre


Nice article. De Sciglio was Impressive today!


It’s been confirmed: Monto/Poli spot is up for grabs. We need a quality mezz’ala ASAP. Ely was a beast, o say the least. And we finally played like MILAN!


What? Poli was great, he never gives the opponent room to breath..as soon as Monty came on instead of him the midfield opened up alot more For me De Jong and Poli are clear choices for midfield, only the 3rd spot remains up for grabs IMO.


Like when he hassled Ronaldo and, just when he was about to gain the ball, decided to pull him down thereby conceding a fk? That guy still thinks he’s an “up coming star”. On a lighter note we always tend to drop points any time Poli scores (just like Flamini)…hehehe!


Hahah, Ronaldo was pulling his shirt and Poli shouldve gotten the free kick, of course he gets annoyed by Ronaldos antics. Stop hating players just for their names etc, and look at the whole picture. No matter who comes on the pitch, no matter the name, i keep an open mind as i hope they will honor our shirt, and Poli always plays with his heart on his sleeve.

Ismaila Lere

I agree with you. I think Milan needs a top class CAM, probably Porto’s Torres would do in that position

Milan Fandango

Looks like things are looking up for us.
With young players like Ely, Mauri, Niang and Calabria showing promises, I think we should give them room to grow by letting go the likes of Zapata, Cerci, Nocerino, and Matri.
Can’t wait to see the recording tonight.
Forza Milan


totally agree with that, plus i don’t think fielding bacca and adriano at the same time would bring any good. they both have the same type as the target man, so playing another one like niang, menez, or cerci at one slot of the striker (as second striker) will be more reasonable.
Lopez; abate – zapata – ely – antonelli; poli/mauri – ndj – bertolacci; honda; cerci/menez/niang – bacca/adriano


Kind of embarrassing how much better Jose Mauri looks than Bertolacci. I’m trying not to be too hard on the guy but we spent 20m on him and recouped it by selling the fans favourite player. I’d have liked to see a midfield 3 of El Shaarawy De Jong and Jose Mauri but I never will now.


Elsharawy himself accepted monaco’s offer. Milan didnt want to sell him just thesame thing cristante did. Lets read articles very well before we criticise


Yes monto was the weak link. His passing wasn’t fantastic and he’s too slow to he a box to box midfielder. I dont understand why can’t we put bonaventura in right mid ahead of poli or monto. Bonaventura’s physique is about the same as bertolacci. Both have almost the same height n weight. Bona will do very well in right mid.


The match today, against one of the strongest sides in world’s football today, made me feel proud as a Milanisti. Our team played very well and very organized. Real wasn’t hardly a threat. I believe that Mihajlovic’s methods are coming off. Our Rossoneri looked determined and rigid. We’ve showed no fear and we’ve made some threatening movements while attacking. I believe that the season ahead will be a big surprise for the blacks and reds (and for everyone else) …


Comment: cerci need to leave the team


It’s obvious to me that Cerci and Montolivo must go. It would be nice to replace them with some new talent.

I would send Cerci to Torino for Maksimovic. No need to spend 30mil on Romagnoli.

Ely must be given a chance to start along side Paletta or Maksimovic if he arrives.

I still have mix feelings about De Scilgio. He is improving so hopefully Mihajlovic can get the best out of him.

Jose Mauri, Bonaventura, and Poli should start ahead of Montolivo. I really hope we can sell him though.

Some Guy

Maksimovic is not EU, so we cannot get him. I’d say for Glik instead.


We can get more non-EU players as long as they come from another Serie A teams – we cannot get more non-EU players from abroad.


the team should carry this performance into the season…i see milan almost winning the league if not winning it. The first few games will be decisive and from the way our boys played this match, we look set. Cerci should get his s**t together (he could be important going into the season). On the CAM, i think the mentioned players will grow as time goes on especially Suso. And our defence was on point today. So happy Ronaldo didn’t get the better of our defence. Forza Milan


Jose Mauri deserves big big credit!!! What do you think?


BS we didnt learn A THING. it seems that we never LEARN that we are lacking a playmaker, a true playmaker, a worldclass playmaker. we think bonaventura can take that role, we think boateng or urby can play trequartista. we think we have honda. What we are lacking is. providing our strikers with something to work on. Our midfield is lumberjack and we have no playmaker, how do we expect to score goals??? I dont think this milan mangement will ever realise we need a true playmaker, we are signing 3nd goalkeepers, we are changing coaches, we are talking about… Read more »


I know I’m beating a dead horse but it sure would have been nice to see El Shaarawy in trequartista


Its because bs n galiani want cam position fill by menez, with sub hinda suso..
So they let elsha go


I’ve sort of shared the same train of thought for quite some time. Never liked the introduction of 4-3-3 by Leonardo to begin with and I surely didn’t like Allegri placing Boateng as a trequartista, even when he bagged a couple of goals. People used to call me an idi*t. Sad to see Milan let go off Saponara as I really, really think we never gave him a real shot in his optimal role as a trequartista. Given the poor state Milan was left in and how the formation system was still in an cloud of uncertainty, it was harsh… Read more »


just only one problem facing Montolivo, his been used out of position,the most prefer post 4 him is the point De Jong is occupying,so mihaj should try him there,forza milaaaaaaaaaaan


Sheva you are right,we need players like Oscar,marco Reus,mario Goze or Fabrigas


People here dont get that, neighter does milan management.

They think legends like shevchenko, weah, inzaghi would have scored as much if they had poli and bonaventura behind them.

we went from having seedorf kaka rui costa pirlo to having…

Poli.. bonaventura.. and we wonder why our striker have problems scoring goals. But scoring goals doesnt matter right? All we need is a poli a worldclass hardworker, all we need is a bonaventura ..

we will keep wondering why we dont score goals and dont win games with players like those we have in midfield today


No you dont get it kid. Let me remind everyone making the case for buying playmakers, Real Madrid’s Ronaldo, Bale, Rodriguez, Kroos, Modric, Isco vs AC Milan 0-0. Seedorf and Pirlo were so-so before Ancelotti reinvented them, Kaka was supposed to be Rui Costa’s Deputy, and then out of nowhere he got the job. As fans we must stay grounded and humbled by the fact that we dont know sh*t about football. Lets just put our trust to someone who actually knows what he’s doing i.e. the coach i.e. Sinisa Mihajlovic.


Good luck luring those players to Milan in our current state buddy


Agree with the five points. Ely is impressive, although i want to see him play more not only 45 minutes, but all our centre backs are equally talented so i understand why we have to give them all 45 minutes each. And tbh, Paletta isnt given half the amount of credit that he should, trust me, its just because of his looks. If he looked like Matri and played like he did, you would all talk of him as the next Nesta. He has been an absolute rock since signing with us so far, but thats just my opinion. All… Read more »


Donnarunma was something else today. He realy proved his worth. I’m loving my new milan. Would like to see a defense of ely and romagnoli. Young,talented nd hungry


I don’t believe that we are missing some kind of player in a certain spot. What we need is unity and trust. We have lots of good players amongst our side. What we need is humility and determination. Real Madrid has some of the best players in the world in their midst, yet they didn’t manage to score …


i believe montolivo will come back , that is better for us forza ac milan


all the comments are about montolivo ok he’s not that good to be a starter so do most of our midfielders except for de jong and after watching the match i realized that we have maybe a bigger problem than defense which is the midfield we need a quality player there


The thing is, he is a starter. He has the quality, he has just lost everything after his first season. I hope he will come back, if we get him back the way he played in his first season, he will honestly be like a new signing for our midfield.


If Milan have any budget left we need to spend it on two quality players not on 5-6 but on two. Team looks pretty good like this.

We need to splash money on: CB to pair it with Ely,Paletta or Alex. And on CAM cause to be realistic Honda is good but only to play against small teams we need someone who can make big problems for opposition defence like Oscar,Gotze or De Bryne. If they do that and offload some more of players that we don’t need we are aiming easily title in Seria A.


Will really need quality playmaker


I learned a few things from this match. One being Bertolacci is showing signs he can become a great player, just needs to integrate into the team, I would really rate Mauri ahead of him just from todays game he looked comfortable and composed. I hate to say it so early, but he looked like a young Pirlo today. Rodrigo Ely is definitely making a case to be in the starting 11, i havent seen a kid his age that confident in a long time, same goes for Calabria. Antonelli was great today, probably the best defender on the pitch.… Read more »


Mauri reminds me of Veratti and I don’t see any reason why he can’t get to that level. I kind of hope he gets to start along side DeJong and Bertolacci perhaps. He’s not even 20 yet and has more than 30 Serie A games under his belt. He’s as “experienced” as they come at that age.

Milan have a nice crop of young players all of a sudden…


Yeah remember what I said about honda lol remember my words guys hondaq is not good enough u will all see that real soon. Don’t worry as u have witnessed a glimpse of it thank u n good night


Agree, i used to think that he was just slow. In reality he is just an average player to good maybe. I though we were set in the cam position and only a new CB and CM was needed. But now i think that may a new CM and CAM should be our priorities. Menez as CAM is not a good idea, but maybe better than Honda!


and two more things:

1) De Sciglio is back to his best. solid performance

2) Calabria is fantastic as well. very consistent


Milan had a good game. But today’s match with a big team like Madrid showed that we don’t have a holding mid-fielder who can distribute passes- a Veratti, or Pirlo, type of player. In the big games in Serie A, we are going to need that. The defenders kept passing the ball back to the goalie, which was very dangerous; especially, knowing that two of our first choice goalies can’t clear the ball very well.
Anyway, kudos to the team.


Mauri can be that guy.


I really thought you would say something about poli and monto’s shaky legs today.are those guys really professional players?


I honestly think Ely and calabria are getting better because the have experienced and older defenders like alex,zapata, palleta,Abate to learn from. Mauri, bertolacci, niang,suso all needs experienced and older players to learn from too and not montolivo or matri. I suggest we get Witsel and ibrahimovic and close out our transfer window .
Good game from them today tho


Ive seen this game for the 3rd time and i keep smiling bcos i see clear tactical improvements. Our set piece defending was absolutely spot on, our defensive phase was on point and offensive phase was almost perfect.

Im not happy bcos of just what ive seen but the improvement the comes after couple of more games, the Milan side will be so so solid.


Amazing game yesterday, Miha is working wonders. There is one thing that I’m not sure about, Adriano and Bacca’s partnership, there seemed to be a few times where they were occupying the same space and going for the same balls, there was another time Bacca should have passed to Adriano which he would have slotted in but Bacca just kept going and shot. I think the problem is that they are both playing as the same type of striker. I think Cerci would probably do far better as second striker to either one of these, feeding the balls into them,… Read more »


Good to hear the improvement….game not televised in South Africa .
Am I the only one not convinced by Poli …..performances last season don’t spark me at all !
Seems an out-of-sorts player to me.
Just my opinion.


Poli & Monto are indeed the two things wrong with our midfield. With Poli it’s run run run and achieve nothing. A good example was when he charged at Ronaldo. With Ronaldo already staggering he needed not to have pulled him to the ground thereby conceding a fk. He looses his head just when you think he’s done well to cover. With the lazy capitano… what more can I say???


To me, the star of the match and preseason so far has been Manager Mija. He has brought the right attitude, work ethic, fitness, and organization to our proud but recently fallen club. As painful as this is to say, because I loved Pippo the player, the team looked lost for too many long spells last season. The only good results came from the likes of great individual performances like Menez, and Bona… It is just preseason and much work still to be done. Trim some aging players, add a CB and I am very comfortable with the form of… Read more »


Props to Coach Miha for whipping these guys back into shape. Haven’t been this optimistic for a season in a minute. #ForzaRossoneri


Montolivo has good skill but no drive.

Bertolacci I believe is being wasted so deep in the midfield and should be the one to play behind the strikers and Bonaventura should take his spot in the midfield.

we seriously should add witsel but the team looks good otherwise.




just imagine how nice it would be to have isco behind bacca and ibra… i can only dream