5 things we learned from Udinese 2-3 Milan

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Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images
Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images

Milan got their second win in a row, and third win in four games, as they narrowly beat Udinese by a scoreline of 3-2 at the Stadio Friuli.

The game looked to be over as goals from Mario Balotelli, Giacomo Bonaventura and Cristian Zapata had given the Rossoneri a 3-0 half-time lead, but the Bianconeri came storming back with Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu and Duvan Zapata making it 3-2.

Despite a nervous last few minutes, Milan held on, sparking jubilant scenes at the final whistle after an entertaining game.

So, what can we take from such a ‘tale of two halves’.

Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images

1. First half perfection

Determined to start on a positive, it is important to first of all recall how incredible the first 45 minutes were from a Milan perspective.

In particular the first ten minutes, which completely blew Udinese away and allowed the team to get out to a two goal lead in the early stages.

The team moved the ball with intent and purpose, were quick and disciplined off the ball, and everything just seemed to click. Of course when the second goal went in they attempted to take the sting out of the game, but the confidence was resonating during the first half.

Adding a third goal from Cristian Zapata before half time may not have been entirely beneficial, because at 2-0 there was the sense of an open game and the idea that the next goal was so important. The 3-0 scoreline did probably make the players assume the job was done, something Mihajlovic will have been trying to guard against.


Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images
Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images

2. Capitulation

Sadly, any team talk for Miha about ‘guarding against complacency’ or words to such effect clearly fell of deaf ears, as the team produced a second half performance that was polar opposite to that of the first 45.

Having looked so confident and at-ease, the team got very sloppy in defence and paid the full price as quick fire goals from Badu and Duvan Zapata gave Udinese renewed hope early in the second period.

For the first goal, Cristian Zapata should block Duvan Zapata’s steered ball across the area, but even still both Alex and Romagnoli were slow to react to the impending danger, and Badu produced a tidy finish.

The second goal from a defensive stand point is absolutely shocking due to the amount of individual errors involved. As the ball falls to Thereau (which shouldn’t have happened in the first place), he is allowed to beat two men – Montolivo and Romagnoli – to the byline and deliver a cross.

Alex is completely out of the game, C. Zapata and De Sciglio have both lost their man at the far post, and Duvan Zapata will never score an easier goal.

It was at that point that I believed the third goal was inevitable, but thankfully it never came. Some serious issues regarding defensive positioning, man-marking and closing down to be addressed though, as well as the apparent lack of focus we saw.


Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images
Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images

3. Balo is back

I have reserved firm judgement on Mario Balotelli until I have seen enough of him from which to make an assessment, and now I’m convinced he is back to his best.

The free kick he scored was a moment of individual genius, and everyone in the stadium could see the goal coming. Staring at the goal in the manner he did, you just knew something was going to happen, and it definitely did.

Aside from that though, his general play was fantastic and intelligent, especially in the first half.

He held the ball up well, picked the right passes, moved into dangerous pockets of space and was dynamic is his runs on the ball.

Its a sign of things to come hopefully, and I believe it is all down to his attitude in training to become better and gel with the group in the fastest possible time.

Luiz Adriano may be starting from the bench for quite some time yet, unless of course the decision is made to drop Honda and play Balo behind the strikers, which I don’t think would work for a number of reasons.

Still, we can enjoy his performances here and now, as an explosive player who at times is a joy to watch.


Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images

4. Second half highlighted flaws

Sorry to go back to the negatives again, however I feel it is important to keep some perspective in terms of how close Milan were to actually letting all the good work slip away.

I think the first mistake could be substituting Alex on for Davide Calabria. It was a change that on paper made sense, because of Alex’s physical presence which should have made him more suited to dealing with Duvan Zapata.

However, this meant moving Cristian Zapata to right back, which was just never going to work at all. I understand there was no full-back on the bench, but playing a centre back at right back who struggles on the ball is hardly a recipe for success.

Also, on several occasions Alex was beaten for pace to balls, was caught out of position or just looked generally at sea in what was a tough performance to watch. Surely Ely could have done a better job?

In addition, I feel that Honda was not taken out of the game quick enough. He was proving completely ineffectual (yet again) and was part of the reason Milan could not string two passes together in the second half. Players like Montolivo had nobody to aim for as the team lost all purpose.

Luiz Adriano should also have come on sooner to stretch the Udinese defence, allowing him to use his pace and eat up pockets of space, perhaps securing a killer fourth goal in the process.


Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images
Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images

5. A win is a win

When all is said and done, it is three more points in what is a marathon of a season.

Three wins out of five in the league is not a bad return considering the fixtures like Fiorentina and Inter away, plus tricky games in there such as Udinese and the two home games.

The most important thing for this team is confidence, and although the team may have looked bereft of it in the second half, the reactions at the end of the game show what a relief it is to have the winning feeling again.

The next three games however are the real test. Genoa away, Napoli at home and Torino away will put into question the team’s mental strength.

There are some creases to iron out without a doubt, but this team was never going to become world-beating overnight. It is all a process, and I believe Milan are well and truly on their way towards the goals for the season.


So, those are the five things I took from such a roller coaster match.

It was actually really entertaining and completely went against my personal prediction that it would be won by a solitary goal. Nevertheless, a 1-0 might have done better for my heart rate!

Roll on Genoa where the team will have to step up again to get any type of result.

Article by Oliver Fisher

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angry birds

What will happen if balo really back?
Liverpool will make us to buy with extra money..

rosso-138

no they wont… he was that good before, he simply isnt made for Rodgers Lpool or even PL… they dont want him… and their fans dont want him… and also we have Bacca and Adriano… so we are ahead in negogations… 10-15m or even loan until end of contract would be enough if Galliani pulls his magic…

Pa ibra

or even loan him untill end of his (3yrs or so) contract?lol you think the english are stupid. they’ll make galliani work or sell him elsewhere before his contract expires

Cowmagnet

They can’t just simply sell him to the highest bidder. That would also requires Mario’s consent. So, if Mario wants to be bought back by Milan, and Milan want him back, and Liverpool don’t want him, it’s in Liverpool’s best interest to allow it and take the money. Having a petulant Balotelli on your team has proven time and time again to be bad for business, so why would they deny him? If he does well and wants to come back for good, and Liverpool put up a fuss, all he has to do is put up a bigger fuss.… Read more »

Cowmagnet

And we all know Raiola likes transferring players around more than anything in the world.
If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s Mino getting a transfer to go through.

Amal

I too think that…balo didnt wanted to leave milan…

Manga la Figa

DeJong the new Gattuso, Monto the new Pirlo and Bona the new Seedorf and then you woke up

Manga la Figa

Looserpool wouldn’t want him back if their lives depended on it. Fester can buy him for 5mil. I’m willing to bet.

Duru Uche

Comment:its a shame that milan can not keep a clean sheet against a strugling team like udinese all the same forza milano

ACMilanSince 69

Yes. We have the third weakest defense in Serie A. 8 goals in 5 games. There is little excuse.

Pa ibra

I like this common mentality that whenever a goal is put in your net must be one of your defenders fault like no matter how the opponent pressured you the defenders must still find a way not to concede. this is harsh! !

ardi

Alex allmoust destroid the game…
bisde that it was a good game for everyone, de jong was cout a cople of times out of his position. were he was playing as a wing, but he run alot that good to se.
I belive bacca playd well even meny will not agree but his runs and movment on the atack made rum for oter players to score and shot on goal.

Sheva

This happens when we dont OFFLOAD pur deadwood. We keept bonera 5 years more than we needed and he caused us so many goals. I see the same with alex and honda. They should left long time ago, honda.. yes a big asian market for bringing in money. But on the pitch, i never seen anything good from honda in milan. Not even his goals been convincing- Honda is sipmly dont a CAM, hes too slow. Im starting to think there is something wrong with him, how can he in his age be so SLOW. I run backwards faster than… Read more »

RKaY

Honestly, I think Honda has had trouble settling in Italy since his arrival. If you have seen ac Milan’s Twitter or any behind the scenes pictures, at an event, or even on the train to a game or at a hotel, you notice the cliques that developed. You can see who’s close with who. For example, you notice de Jong and mexes always together, bacca and Zapata, the Italians of bonaventura monto poli and cerci together, Alex and ely the brazilians. Honda is always on his own or with a youngster, I don’t think he is close with anyone and… Read more »

Sheva

I also noticed that, he seems happier when he plays in Japan NT. But anyhow, honda is slow. Okay pirlo wasnt the fastest player but he didnt need to be fast because he was regista. but higher up in the pitch like a CAM, you need to run fast to move up the ball. Kaka, seedorf, rui costa were all fast, and speeded up our attacking. But honda, it takes 5 min for him to midfield to goalkeeper. and he lose he ball in between. Even if he scores goals from corner or score tap-in goals on the goaline, that… Read more »

Milanista121

Probably one of few comments you make a valid point. But tbh, Rui Costa wasn’t fast either. Honda, for being a technical player, his first touch lets him down far too many times, especially for a trequartista. Don’t know what it is, he has great technique in reality, but his first touch is so poor, so he has to make up for it and control the ball with one-two extra touches which is one reason that slows his and our play down. That was never the case with Rui Costa example, the ball was glued to his feet. I think… Read more »

ACMilanSince 69

Good observation. Sounds like Middle School.

Nicodab84

I dont care if he feels lonely (Honda), quality isnt there! He is not delivering. If Milan want to play this formation you cant have a player like Honda!

Manga la Figa

Nicely said RKaY. But one thing is that he’s never had a long stretch at CAM. Give him more games and see. He needs more time.

herry

” I run backwards faster than him”, that phrase made my day. LOL

GB

Balo is praised too much. Yes he played good – for himself, but he is not good fit for this team playing in this formation. This formation need two mobile attackers, Bacca´s game suffer if Balo is on, there is no speed or width in the attack and whole team´s pressing is much worse also. Milan always suck in defending in the second half, partly because Bonaventura is getting tired, that is why Poli always coming for Honda to take over Bonaventura´s defensive duties. Playing Balo who do much less dirty work then LA only increasing this problem. He may… Read more »

Manga la Figa

Did you not watch the game? Balo was pretty mobile the whole match

herry

Balo were passing the ball very well, he has such a long range of pass. I agree with the third point

Frank

Why do I keep getting this feeling that Bacca-Mario patnership might not work.

I only saw the second half of the game but going by Football-Italia’s match story,Bacca didn’t have a single shot on goal despite leading 3-0 at half time.

Strange if you ask me.

Milanista121

I think its because Luiz Adriano play in a more advanced role and runs so much more, keeps the opponents busy thus opens up space for Bacca. Balo on the other hand likes to play somewhere between trequartista and attack if you know what i mean, he likes to collect the ball and hold on to it, which makes Bacca have to run in a different way compared to when he plays with LA. I think Bacca and LA complements each other in a better way if you ask me, but the talent is greater with Balo and Bacca on… Read more »

Shams

Dejong needs to be replaced asap. Kucka in, also Bertolucci in for honda

angry birds

Kucka maybe good as de jong…
But berto? Did you see him better than honda..
Yes honda play bad but bertol also did it

LongLostMilanisti

or menez

nick

Balotelli is back after playing 3 games and scoring 1 goal from a free kick? Really? Let’s wait until the end of the season before we talk such nonesense.

When Balotelli scores from open play consistently and have atleast an average of 15-20 goals per season with 10-15 assist then we can talk about Balotelli.

Talking about him after 3 games and 1 goal from a free kick is ridiculous. I rather wait until the end of the season

John

GB made a good observation, Balotelli obviously played for Himself and not the team. He should learn how to run with the ball and pass. once the ball gets to Him all He does is slow play down and look for a foul, as far as am concerned Ballo is the mosty fowled player b/c He always looks for it. With Ballo on the team our attack may just have to rely on set piece nd individual brilliance dont expect much team work. Dont get me wrong Ballo is good but He seriously need to push attack and not look… Read more »

John

GB that was a beautiful observation. As a coach u will do great. Ballo should learn how to pass the ball and push attack and not looking for cheap fouls. With Ballo on the team I dont expect much team play rather we will just rely on set piece nd individual brilliance.

angry birds

For now our best formation. Keep monty and bona..
Then play de jong or kucka or both of them…

rosso-138

————- Lopez Calabria-Zapata-Roma-Antonelli – De Jong – Monty – Jack ———— Balo ——- Adriano – Bacca this is our strongest squad ATM (Calabria is in form and he in form is better than MDS and Abate)… Monty is showing some good moves (for the first time he came in Milan, im suprised)… De Jong is a must, we need one destroyer… Jack is again in form, he is amazing when in form… for the CAM i would try Balo, he showed he can play there, and I think he will supply attackers, and he will not be selfish like before… Read more »

dejan10

I was against Balotelli returning and Miha being hired but this win was the first time we’ve beaten Udinese away since the days of Allegri. Okay it had shades of Istanbul madness in the 2nd half but overall I’m feeling a lot more optimistic about this season than I was a few weeks ago. Just hope we can keep it up.

ozonelayer

Maybe Honda need to watch the match from the bench and come in and see what he can do

vince

Once everyone is healthy our strongest formation will be

De sciligo Zapata romagnoli Antonelli

Kucka monto bertolacci

Bona
Bacca balotelli

Mojdanis

no it won’t

rosso-138

kucka, berto to bench, de jong and adriano in… balo as CAM and Jack on the left… and currently Calabria instead of MDS

Ouch!

I prefer Kucka to NDJ because he offers something in both attacking play and also defensively he is great, NDJ is good defensively but offers very little going forward. Honda is not playing too well atm but that doesn’t mean he is a bad player, people are trying to make it out like he is the next muntari/bonera… wtf :/ probably shouldn’t start until he regains his form. As for Balo personally for me I found him frustrating to watch because every time he had the ball the next thing u saw was he is on the floor, resulting in… Read more »

ACMilanSince 69

Great informative article. Alex seems to be the major weakness. I guess Ely and his penchant for getting cards scared Miha from putting him in. Alex is too slow and not a great reader of the game.

David

If everyone was fit – my strongest 11 – 4-4-2-Diamond

Lopez
Calabria Zapata Romagnoli Antonelli
Montolivo
DeJong Bonaventura
Menez
Bacca Balotelli

DeJong needs to become a new Gattuso on the right side of the three man midfield, Monty a little deeper in the Pirlo role. Bonaventura new Seedorf.

Manga la Figa

DeJong the new Gattuso, Monto the new Pirlo and Bona the new Seedorf and then you woke up

angry birds

Inter won again simple win 1-0!!
They didn’t play well..

nana

I don’t get this ndj obsession. I was so frustrated even in his new role, never daring forward, ever giving short back passes, little intelligence, one dimensional, only defending.
If we want champs leaque, we have get players who can box the pitch and kicks has been the perfect example

manoj bisht

Guys can’t we buy sponara and baselli they got what we need they will solve our midfield problem

Frank

What’s our position in the table?I don’t rate Inter or Mancini’s team(s)high.He is never a top or quality coach.I’m not losing sleep over Inter’s form,it will take just a one game lose to crash their confidence.

Just the way I’m glad we didn’t end up with Martinez and Kondogbia.

Enough of the over priced and over bloated egos in Milan.

I believe in Miha.

Stef79

AC Milan is monitoring Hakan Calhanoglu’s situation, but Bayer Leverkusen value the player at €25 million, with his contract not due to expire until 2019.