5 things we learned from Fiorentina 2-0 Milan

Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images
Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

The Serie A came back on Sunday night for Milanisti across the globe, and unfortunately it was anything but good news as the team was beaten 2-0 away by an impressive Fiorentina side.

It may only be the first game of the season, but every Milan supporter will be disappointed about the result without doubt. Marcos Alonso’s amazing free kick set the tone for the night, while Josip Ilicic added a second from the spot to compound the misery for Mihajlovic.

Still, what can we take from the game looking ahead to Empoli on Saturday evening?

Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images
Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

1. Mihajlovic got it wrong?

I saw a lot of social media posts after the game perhaps hinting that coach Mihajlovic got his selection wrong on Sunday, mainly in defence.

The craze in preseason was all about how well Rodrigo Ely had ‘adapted’ and how impressive he had been, almost as if the supporters weren’t expecting much from him.

As such, Miha repaid faith into his defender by starting him alongside the other new recruit Alessio Romagnoli, who had been equally impressive in preseason. However, it couldn’t have gone much worse for the pair of them.

Ely got two yellows and a subsequent red card inside the first 40 minutes for clumsy fouls in which his lack of pace was to blame, while Romagnoli gave away a penalty (albeit harsh) in the second half.

Unfortunately, this leads me to believe that selecting Ely was perhaps a questionable decision, and that perhaps Cristian Zapata with his experience and pace could have been better suited to the high pressure situation.

That may be overly critical, as Miha made a bold choice and one that everyone seemed happy with, but the question has to be asked.

Add to this the fact he chose to remove Honda for Zapata instead of Luiz Adriano, which would have created a far more balanced 4-3-1-1, and you can understand the questions being asked.

In truth though, it was a tough game for any manager to undertake in the first league match.


2. Missing: Milan midfield.

Yet again the majority of concern has to be directed at the midfield, as has been the area of question throughout the mercato and preseason.

Andrea Bertolacci has not started his Milan career well in my opinion, and although it will take time, he hasn’t looked close to a fraction of his €20 million price tag.

There was nobody in midfield who looked comfortable on the ball aside from perhaps Bonaventura, who returned to his more impressive self, but De Jong appeared to be a passenger in the game as he watched Fiorentina pass it around his team with ease and breach the defence at will.

There is now absolutely no question that Milan need a top quality midfielder who is comfortable in possession and will dictate key phases of the game. I personally am not sure that Soriano is the man for this, and Witsel may not be either, but we will see how the mercato develops.

Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images
Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

3. Valeri had a nightmare.

The referee Paolo Valeri really struggled in refereeing Sunday’s game, and killed the contest in many ways.

I cannot deny that Ely deserved his red card, however in the minutes leading up to both yellow cards there were several rash challenges and niggling ones all the same and Valeri didn’t keep the game under control in the slightest.

Compound this with the fact that Romagnoli appeared to make a fair challenge for the penalty incident, while denying Milan a stonewall spot kick at the other end, and you have reason to be annoyed at Valeri.

I am not one to blame the referee, especially not for the entire outcome of a match, but today he did get quite a few decisions wrong that influenced the outcome of the match, its as simple as that.

Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images
Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

4. Lack of width costing Milan?

One key tactical point I did notice from Sunday night’s game was just how narrow the side looked even leading up to the dismissal of Ely and the resulting shake-up.

Fiorentina were having such joy alongside the right side with Gilberto Jr. because he had simply a full-back to bomb at and a lot of space to operate.

On the other side, Milan lost the ball frequently in midfield, rarely found space, but created their best opportunities when cutting in from wide, whipping in some dangerous deliveries.

Times like this make me question the 4-3-1-2. The midfielders on the right and left side of the three have to be given license to roam and create almost a wide diamond, and while Bonaventura tried his best to cover ten positions at once, it was tough to see any intent from Bertolacci and De Jong.

Also, width needs to come from the full backs, who must overlap at the right opportunities, and with the central defensive partnership Milan had out there today it was easy to understand why De Sciglio and Antonelli somewhat retreated into their shell until the late stages.

By taking off the attacking midfielder after the red card, the link between the midfield (who were sitting deep and inviting pressure) and the forwards was completely lost, and there was no outlet to play through. This led to the midfield being completely bypassed in most cases, creating some ugly football.


5. It is only one game.

Things didn’t go Milan’s way today, without a doubt, and the team will have been expecting to get a result heading into this game.

However, credit must be given to Paulo Sousa and his Fiorentina team, who looked an impressive, well-organised, disciplined and creative opposition and a team who will be striving for Europe this season.

The moment that the fixtures came out I was worried about Milan’s chances of getting a positive outcome from this match because a packed out Artemio Franchi is a tough place to go, especially facing a team that has finished in 4th place the last three seasons.

It is not all doom and gloom, though, as the Rossoneri have a perfect opportunity to bounce back with a game at home against Empoli on Saturday night, one Mihajlovic will definitely be expecting to win.

That will be the perfect opportunity to get into the swing of things; a game that the team should in theory control from start to finish, getting confident in possession and giving the strikers more than just scraps to feed off.

With Napoli, Juventus and Genoa all also losing, it just goes to show you cannot take everything 100% seriously after the first game.

So, those are the five things I took from the opening game of the season.

Mentions must go to Diego Lopez, who had a great game and made two 1-on-1 saves that otherwise could have seen the scoreline be embarrassing, and to Nocerino, who looked actually half decent when he was introduced.

Things can only get better, right?

Article by Oliver Fisher

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Ely has to keep playing alongside romagnoli so that they can form good partnership; by the end of this season they will be great tigger and more confident. WE HAVE TO TRUST THEM!

As for the coach, let’s give him time, but I’m not expecting any miracles. I expect average performances. The truth is that we should’ve put our trust in Seedorf instead of inzaghi. By now we would be challenging for the UCL title. I hope Mr Bee gets rid of galliani, I have lost faith Berlusconi.


Paletta and Romagnoli much better. we need 2 midfielders, one creative like Soriano and one with strength like Witsel, Nainggolan, Gonalons… Balo would be good to add, i trust Miha and know he can tame him. Balo scored in every single game when he came to Milan. Bacca and Balo would form best attacking duo in Serie A. Adriano can’t be blamed but he acted kinda weird not going forward when Bacca would start an attack. Honda great several passes but i would prefer him to be sold to raise some cash for midfielder and play Bonaventura up front. Bertolacci… Read more »


zapata and Romangoli is the best defence we have


Midfield general is what we need, what do you guys think of Bender from Leverkusen?

Balotelli due for a medical tomorrow? If he is going to sign surely a medical is pointless as he was with us 12 months ago…unless is figures out what on earth goes on inside that head of his

ACMilanSince 69

Funny. But Balotelli is better than Bacca, Adriano, Matri, Menez, Niang or Cerci.


defenently not better than bacca and has bigger talent than adriano and is much better than the other 3


Once again excellent artical sir Oliver. It is only our first game people and as he stated napoli,juve and others didn’t have a good day either

We can only get better


Spot on, as always… Most important part – we need a midfielder (or 2-3) and Jack is good when he is played as LM, LW… and not CM… he is learned to play wide, this fomation is not for him… and if ANY team want to play 4312 they MUST have good and CONSISTENT CAM which we dont have… other news – Balotelli is back – so we have to deal with it and hope he keeps his mouth shut and starts making effort every second of a game… otherwise give him back to Lpool… (hate to admit it, but… Read more »


i agree


Keep playing Ely and Romagnoli until they get it right, but with better protection from the midfield. NDJ had an off day, Bertolacci & Jack were useless. Go sign a QUALITY mezz’ala for goodness sake!


Good article, agree with all of your points. Maybe in the long run a defeat here can be turned into a positive. Make people realise we are a work in progress and not to expect miracles just because we’ve spent money.

Sounds like Balotelli on loan is a done deal. Not my choice but while he wears the red and black, he’ll get my support.


If you look at Juve and generally all the top clubs they have really fortified their midflied. The game has evolved to a point that matches are won or lost in the mid. This is where we should be concentrating as well. Lucas Lieva is a quality mid and for sale for peanuts, Witsel is an upgrade and can slot in Pirlos role. Drexler is another quality mid. With exemption of Lucas the other two are not much more than Berto’s price. Kind of tells you how we got bent over that on. Roma was sure accommodating with Romagneli, stretching… Read more »


I couldn’t agree more with you on Zapata for Honda sub, it was 4-3-1-2 against 4-2-3-1 to begin with 4 mids against 5, what do you expect from subbing another one out? unless we have superman, he man, and maybe Optimus Prime our mids really didn’t stand a chance after Ely’s red, which was harsh to my opinion, i mean you couldn’t even call that a foul on the BPL. Most fans have this general idea that our mids were lacking, but in this case maybe it’s because the opposition mids stood out, they outnumbered ours 5 against 4 and… Read more »

Pa ibra

midfield has always been a problem for this team since after allegri let go of pirlo and start using destroyers like van bommel & de jong as registas. buy gundogan or illaramendi and play de jong on the sides. I don’t want to keep saying this after every poor showing from midfield.


I disagree with pairing Ely and Romagnoli right off the bat. You cannot experiment with unproven back line, especially at Milan when there are so many expectations. I agree that Ely and romagnoli will eventually develop into a beautiful partnership but Ely needs to be transitioned slowly into the line up, let him play against the weaker opponents and build confidence, throwing him in blind against fiorintina and other big clubs is exactly how you will kill his career. What on earth does Miha have against Paletta? Don’t get me wrong, Zapata looked good when he came in but everytime… Read more »

AC Milan Lover

Agree on Paletta … He has been solid …

angry birds

I agree, thats what i said before, ely-palleta romag-mexes, then after they ready we set ely-romag…


@oliver you must write a piece on dejong. I feel strongly that he is making our midfield really weak. I’m not sure if you have followed my comments on desiglio article. Just a observation that in the whole match only one player was man marked and that was dejong. Because he can’t play the ball forward

Manga la Figa

The issue is not deJong. Rino would have been lambasted too if all he had to work with was this midfield. Although Gattuso was a better passer, he was a destroyer as well. We need a solid mid that can hold the ball, have a fine range of passing and be good at shielding the back 4. This way NDJ and work his magic. Did anyone see the Man city game on Sunday? They were playing a high line when they were bringing up the ball and quickly giving it to Silva, who was all over the field. Mostly as… Read more »


its an absolute shame that ppl compare gattuso to dejong. i’m lucky enough to watch the ancelotti era on its prime. gattuso was so so under rated as passer because milan had players like pirlo,seedorf, kaka, ronaldinho etc. also gattuso was true box to box, kind of vidal now a days, playing on right cm. tactically gifted and can man mark a player out of a game. the only good thing about dejong is he is a very good tackler, but that’s it. side and backward pass, and sitting infront of defence, how hard that must be!!!!!!!!! yet again, i… Read more »


Milan needs creative players, enough with these lumberjack midfielders

Pa ibra

4312 requires two playmakers – an advance playmaker(trensquatista) and a deep lying playmaker(regista) because the formation is too defensive for just one playmaker unless for those small clubs who are only up for defending. people need to note that it’s mainly the responsibility of the regista and his mazzelas in starting the play and moving the ball forward to the AM.. otherwise the AM will sound useless which seems to be case with honda against strong opponents when de jong & co are struggling to get the ball to him. a regista’s offensive job is to start and dictate the… Read more »


this year milan will improve and I guarantee milan will b 14th in the table. milan r learning very fast 2 move backward. honda has no bone left I think from 1.5 year he is being slaughtered. milan has a very big scapegoat “MR KEISUKE HONDA”. Grt milan. good job.

ACMilanSince 69

Good article. Milan played decent until the red card. I wouldn’t panic and keep the same line up. Bacca and Adriano seemed lost up front. I don’t see Bacca as an improvement over Pazzini.


we need two quality midfielders. if we do then the team will be unstoppable
Forza milan


Milan has to stop giving de jong and honda this importance. Maybe they are serious but definitely lack quality.


And yet, mihajlovic said it isn’t compulsory we improve the quality of the midfield. I wonder wat this guy is smoking

P.S: the “only one game” excuse is only for a team that has a track record of playing well e.g juve, not milan. It was loud and clear against fiorentina that the issues of last season is still very much in existence.


wrong formation against fiorentina . Ely lost it very early . i said we should not expect much from this season , not much has changed in our team from a quality point of view . but forza milan , support this club no matter what !


I cannot help myself but to notice how some people here already judging some players because of performance in this game. First and most important Fiorentina will be tough team to beat this season on home pitch. Secondly i trust in Ely-Romagnoli project.This is their second game,first in Seria A they will be solid CB for Milan. Third thing is i really can’t believe that you guys already writing off Adriano and Bacca give them one supplier who is really supplier,not Honda and you will see wonders from these guys. In my opinion they would be more deadly with Balotelli… Read more »


Comment:one thing I noticed was that bona played too wide in midfield and I bet on u that 4312 requires a compact midfield. we nid our 3 mids to be very intelligent and dynamic and stay close to other. we had too much distance between them and the attack. and get dejong out of that cdm role. he is a ball winner, yes, but he kills our attack


If there’s one way to destroy a young players confidence, it’s have a mass of fans scream for them to be given up on after one game.
Should they always play together? Maybe not. Switch it up a bit and keep them working with the older guys.
Once we get an entire midfield that can keep possession long enough to give the defenders a second to breathe, they’ll be fine.


@Shams It’s an absolute shame that a fan like you comes on here and spits sh**t. De Jong has been our best player for the past two seasons. And that isn’t an opinion but a fact that 90 percent of Milan fans agree with, the remaining 10 percent is the category you fall in (Deluded fans). Or have you been living on Mars? De Jong’s work is DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER. I play in the same position only that I am very good with my passes, whether long range or short passes, but I am more appreciated for stopping attacks before it… Read more »


Here are the 5 things I have learned from Milan’s performance against Fiorentina: 1. Galliani must go – Plain and simple – buying Raiola players is not a transfer strategy 2. Milan will not return to a great club until Galliani leaves 3. Galliani is now officially the cancer of Milan 4. It’s Galliani fault why Milan is in a crisis 5. Nothing will change until Galliani gets sacked Galliani is a delusional man and so are the fans who think he is a good transfer guru It all comes down to Galliani fault. He needs to go before the… Read more »


i’m an ungrateful fan because i want the best for milan. every second comment you write is an ungrateful one then, because its usually full of hate and crying and winging. i’ve checked my data regarding dejong and not just one match. may b you forgot how we got to 3rd place after dejong injury. man utd kept calling, yes, in your dreams. and more to that, you have zero understanding of football. may b you should check who scored website before blabbing here. a hint: next to nothing key passes plus header winnings. dejong doesnt have quality to play… Read more »


Go jump off a cliff for all I care . I don’t base my arguments on peoples thoughts, so I have nothing doing on who scored to know about players performance and yes you are an ungrateful fan…! De Jong doesn’t deserve the rubbish coming from your brain. It’s very clear to me you don’t understand the meaning of DEFENSIVE MID FIELDER and yet you claim you know your football. I don’t just watch the game, I play the game…!


My question to u all.. Y do u think man city let de Jong leave yet they were targeting titles??? Y do u think they refused yaya toure to move to inter ??? Dejong is Milan’s real problem!! He doesn’t offer anything going forward!


Agree. Fans here are as confused as galliani. They dont realise when milan was at the top we played ATTACKING football with attacking players with creativity in midfield. Its like everybody here is a interista , they say POOLI what a hard working player, hes a starter!!! really? ok hard worker, but what does he do to link midfield to attack? They say boooonaventura!! Best player last season!! Really?? compared to who? Muntari? They saay de joooong what a beast! a monster!!! yes he is, but what about the LINK between midfield and attack? We are only talking about hard… Read more »


i mean what the actual f dude ? you them in one season eh ? those time are past .. UNDERSTAND that this team is for eurpe … and its only firt game

and gattosu used to sit along pirlo .. if miha do that may be we can havee creativity we lack so much


its quite clear, guys like Hasowayne and some cheap fans never watched the true milan era. therefore they love these so called beasts. what a joke!!!


I see what miha is trying to do but I simply believe that if he is going to find success that a diamond 442 would be the closest to his 4312 that he is trying to accomplish and see a good result, but I am only saying this based on the performance of one match I do not doubt his ability and I think that the squad is stll trying to figure out the formation. I believe that against empoli milan will gather more experience with the formation and become a little more comfortable.


What’s with the hate on De Jong. He is an amazing dm I would pull my hair out of he left. He was the best on our squad last year and yet you slander him? It’s fans like this that should just go back to bandwagoning real or barca.


For around 15 yrs I am fan of AC MILAN and I really cant see this Milan,I hope to watch a good game versus Empoli.
We need the soul of Milan with Great Maldini.


As I read you talked about Milan problems and I would mention some of them in my pint of view:
1.I think the team forgot our great players who can help Milan.
2.This is end of Galliani and we need someone new from our greats instead of him.
3.We really can’t take such a great player like Shevchenko, Kaka,…. and also we let some player like Pirlo go from the team!This is horrible!