5 things we learned from the 2015 Audi Cup (Bayern Munich 3-0 and Tottenham 2-0)

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@acmilan.com
@acmilan.com

Milan hardly had an ideal Audi Cup 2015 campaign, losing 5-0 on aggregate over two games on two days and struggling to register a shot on goal.

It was a stark reminder of the sheer challenge that still faces the team, and it must also be noted that across the preseason campaign against decent opposition Milan have won just one game (the 1-0 victory against Inter) and lost the remaining four (Lyon, Madrid on penalties, Bayern and Tottenham), scoring just two goals and conceding seven.

So, just what exactly did we learn from the last two preseason games?

Photo by Alexandra Beier/Bongarts/Getty Images
Photo by Alexandra Beier/Bongarts/Getty Images

1. Midfield far from finished

In both games, there were worrying signs of a completely unfinished midfield, something which Milanisti had speculated about given the links with Witsel.

Against Bayern, Milan lined up with a midfield trio of De Jong, Bertolacci and Bonaventura. With the latter two seen as creative players who can feed the front three, it seemed like a nice balance in the midfield especially in terms of offensive production.

However, Milan were dominated in the game, and the midfield could not get hold of and keep the ball effectively at all.

Of course, Bayern are one of the elite sides in Europe, so keeping the ball is always going to be one of their strengths especially under a manager like Pep Guardiola. Yet, the problem cannot be ignored that Milan were completely overrun and dominated in the first half by what was a changed Bayern line-up and a Rossoneri team that was very close to, if not already, the first choice team.

It was clear to see that Milan still lack something in midfield just to seize the tempo of games and grasp a tighter control. As much as De Jong is seen as a defensive midfielder, he cannot contribute everything for the midfield in terms of marking, breaking up play, cutting out passing lanes etc.

For me, a player such as Witsel is sorely needed to restore balance in the midfield. Nigel De Jong needs help, and as speculated he may even be better in the Gattuso role anyway, so bringing in more quality would only help Milan find that perfect midfield.

Otherwise, it can be said that the management have completely overlooked the problem, and while it may take a while for players to gel together, the showing was hardly convincing at all.


Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images
Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images

2. Bertolacci yet to deliver

At the risk of sounding like I have written him off already, I still feel the need to point out that as of yet Bertolacci is yet to contribute much positivity into a game.

Perhaps he is feeling the pressure of a big price tag on his shoulders, but preseason should be a time where pressure does not prevail and new signings can play their natural game. This is especially true for creative players as it is a chance to express and demonstrate their capabilities without the high risk of normal matches.

For whatever reason, we have seen an out-of-sorts Bertolacci who has somewhat reverted back into a shell and played nervously. In a way, it may be good to get these performances out of the way, and he will only grow in confidence one assumes.

As a €20 million signings, Milanisti can only hope that this is the case. Milan went all out to secure Bertolacci with the view he will be a very important part of the team this season, so it would be nice to see that faith start being repaid.


@acmilan.com
@acmilan.com

3. Bacca still rusty?

Through preseason, Carlos Bacca has appeared slightly rusty to say the least when finishing his chances.

This isn’t a major worry, nor should it be for any fan, because Carlos Bacca is one of the best finishers in world football and once he finds his form he will be banging in goals in Serie A.

It is tough to deny though that had Carlos converted some of his chances in the preseason as a whole, Milan may have had slightly better results.

As Sinisa Mihajlovic stated, though, Bacca and Luiz Adriano have only been with the squad for a short period of time. He described the pair as being at “30-40%” and said they “can’t be judged” yet.

These are encouraging signs, and the way the Bacca has been positioning himself in the attacking third is exciting, plus his statistics speak volumes about his finishing, so he will come good no doubt.

The forward department is one area that is far from being signed and sealed, as Bacca and Adriano may not necessarily be deemed the best starting combination yet. It is likely that they will start together, however.


Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images
Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

4. Niang suffers big blow

More of a headline than something to take from the actual performances, but my heart really does ache for M’Baye Niang.

Niang, who was injured in the friendly against Bayern, suffered a broken metatarsal which is likely to keep him sidelined for between six weeks, with four weeks of rehabilitation to follow that.

It is so unfortunate for the young player who so many Milan supporters were hopeful could achieve big things in 2015-16. He may still go on to do well once he recovers, but Niang could have really done with a full preseason just to develop, learn and gel with the rest of the squad having been out on loan last season.

The result of this is that Sky Italia has been reporting Milan are now looking for another striker due to the injury to Niang, meaning he was clearly very important in their plans. This may just be the push to go all out for Zlatan (if not already), or perhaps there is someone else in mind.

It adds an extra layer of excitement to preseason and the mercato, but as I said, I am mostly filled with sadness for Niang who has no doubt been working very hard to come into contention.


CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images
CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images

5. Still many issues to be addressed

The overriding theme from the last two games sadly was how many issues Milan and Mihajlovic have to work on.

Having scored a grand total of zero goals, and conceding five, and generally being bullied in both matches for the most part, it was a case of back down to earth with a bang.

There are obvious areas to improve, such as the defence, which looks more like it is lacking a leader rather than someone like Romagnoli. Sadly, there aren’t many defenders in the world who I feel could come in and sort out the current crop, and the last two games have exposed the flaws after the clean sheets against Real Madrid and Inter.

The midfield, as mentioned, has somehow lacked creativity despite a vast number of creative players having featured. There is also a lack of composure and calm which has contributed to the ball-chasing we saw at times. This is a work in progress though, and I expect the team to look better as we head into the opening round.

As for the attacking midfield role which I discussed in depth, I believe Milan are further away from solving the problem than the start of preseason. Honda hasn’t performed, Bonaventura (although in midfield) has looked a shadow of his former self, and only really Suso has looked worthy of the role. Menez probably has the role tied down for now, and I look forward to seeing him back in action.


So, a rather somber edition this time, however it was much needed after the reaction to the win over Inter and the 0-0 against Real Madrid.

This team is far from complete yet, and the frailties shown are the exact reason Milan cannot compete at the very top of Serie A just yet. Call it an overreaction, but it is what we were all thinking at half-time in both games.

Hopefully next time the ‘5 things’ will be a little more positive.

Article by Oliver Fisher

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Udochukwu

we need at least 1 quality mezzala, without which…

danny

i would love to see ibra witsel and romagnoli till this mercato finishes and in january garay and another midfielder

danny

or even chalanoglu as teraquista guy can pass has powerful shot crazy good at free kicks

aizi

Great Article. You have identified the issues perfectly. There is definitely a psychological issue involved here, bertolachi doesn’t need to worry that much and just understand the current situation of milan and adapt accordingly. As far as bonaventura is concerned i think he is really not a great midfielder in the true sense. He is just better than what we have at the moment and hence automatically a starter. to date it is unclear to me what honda is adept at, whether its passing, dribbling or pace so its hard to judge him. Only thing that can be said is… Read more »

nick

Milan should use Niang as a midfield player. He is kinda like Desailly, Kondogbia and Alex Song. He is very athletic and he could give some much needed energy to the midfield and some help to De Jong.

He is definitely not a striker or cf. His finishing and positioning is very poor.

When Niang returns Mihajlovic should use him in a midfielder role just not AM or trequartista.

Witsel is a must buy for Milan. I would rather we keep Paletta than sign Romagnoli. I’ll take Maksimovic instead and send Alex back to Santos.

Sheva

Lmao niangs biggest problem is that he DOESNT pass the ball. Always when he gets the ball instead of making a pass that can open an attack he wants to show the entire world that he can dribble 5 men and ALWAYS loose the ball.

Niang as a playmaker you say? He would never pass the ball

gaushow

if he didnt pass the ball and scores 20 goals per season i would like him…

the biggest problem is that he cant score a single goal..

nick

I never said a playmaker. I guess people can’t read.

gaushow

please, stop worshiping niang… he is just a commom player

he is an forward that doenst score… i mean, he cant do the only thing he is hired to do.. and you want him to play in another position that he is probably even worse…

mobi

All Milan has is just a bunch of players; while the likes of Madrid, Bayern, Barca, PSG, have class. We need quality signings to improve the team. We did well against Madrid, and Inter, bcos of ancient rivalries, and always will, no matter the players we have. But, when we square up against other big guns, we will always be exposed, bcos we don’t have the players to do so. We need to let go of a lot of players, and bring in better quality, if we really want to go back to the glory days.

tony

Comment: pls buy good and better players if u want to get back to the top (top3)

sola

I just feel for those who don’t believe in this milan team, Wish they could automatically quit being milan fans when we exceed their expectations…that’s all I got to say…we’re certainly not yet a top top team buh we won’t be playing Bayern, madrid and spurs every weekend, it’s the like of hellas, Torino, samp, udinese and co…we won’t loose that game to fiorentina…see you when we exceed expectations

dejan10

I haven’t exactly written off Bertolacci either but it does amaze me how most people on this blog were happy we signed him. For 20 million… Like we’d have got to ANY of those CL finals during the 90s and 2000s with a midfield consisting of the likes of Bertolacci, Poli and Bonaventura.

will

We need a play maker we have no one honda lol dude has been here for how long he should be able to adapt by now winger cam stop with the excuses he ain’t cutting it mate n get over it he is done we need quality n that my friends is sniejder wijnaldum balhanda isco silva even nasri a cam lol would do better than Honda Julian draxler we need these types of players or Milan is going nowhere

ozonelayer

Niang is a great prospect for us in milan… I wish him quick recovery… Milan need to get rid of Matri, Noccerino and Alexx and let go for a decent striker and ibrahimovic is not the man we needed now….

acquaintance

Sell everyone, start from the beginning

Blanx_milanfan

There is no leader in the defence. I remember the nesta /silva partnership that won us the last title andeeds silva was stating how Nesta talked a lot during games telling him what to do….when to push forward and when to cover. That is what we lack. No one takes ownership. It’s as if they are afraid to tell each other what to do.

Fajrio

Absolutely agree with you bro..
nice article, at least Milan need 1 Defender, 1 Attacking Midfilder, 1 Striker with a good quality.
#FM 1899

Carlos_Bacca

we need a coutinho type player.. someone skillful, dribbles past opponents passes wonderfully and can take long range shots

Forza milan

Lumen

Oscar is my answer to the Trequartista role.

Lucas

Throw Ely in defense. Partner him with Romagnoli. Start Mauri. Sign Witsel.

And for crying out loud let’s put Mastour as the trequartista. I don’t care that he’s 17. He’s a f****** beast and better than what we have!!

rossonerisiamonoi

The most important thong we’ve learnt ?Things can’t happen over night , Milan is still a weak side , and the players we got won’t do much of a difference . We all know where we stand , and we all know where this team is heading next season ! those are the five things we have learnt from Audi cup .