Milan were somewhat embarrassingly held to a 1-1 draw by basement dwellers Hellas Verona on Sunday afternoon.
After a goalless first half, Carlos Bacca opened the scoring with a trademark piece of poaching. Milan couldn’t hold the lead as Nigel de Jong gave away a penalty and got sent off before Luca Toni despatched to make it 1-1.
No disrespect to Verona, but they are a team that the Rossoneri really should be beating if they have any hope of European qualification – especially at home.
So, that being said, what did we learn from another afternoon of disappointment.
Result and performance aside, Milan did enough to win this game but for some horrific officiating.
Paolo Valeri certainly didn’t have many supporters from Milan before the game, and he burned even more bridges with an absolutely disgusting display.
Carlos Bacca was twice wrongly flagged offside (which in fairness is the linesman’s fault) which led to two goals, thus making the actual scoreline 3-1.
Add to that a blatant push in the back on Giacomo Bonaventura which was waved away almost before the incident has happened.
For good measure, I have never seen a red card produced so quickly for something which a) was not a clear goalscoring opportunity and b) was not a last-man challenge.
Milan should have won the match despite this, but there is sometimes only so much you can do.
2. Pulling your weight
Unfortunately, it is yet another week where it is obvious who is not playing to their capability in this team.
Riccardo Montolivo was awful. So many misplaced passes – a lot of them where he wasn’t even looking – very little defensive contribution, looking lost for the majority of the game and failing to contribute anything to justify his position.
Ignazio Abate continues to give heart attacks on the right side and adds little to the game going forward, while M’Baye Niang somehow transformed to being a tad lazy as Milan offered little on the right.
Mattia De Sciglio is still struggling to find any kind of form whatsoever, which is obviously due to his confidence being completely shot. This re-affirms the idea that our ideal full-back partnership is Luca Antonelli and Davide Calabria.
Nigel de Jong made a judgement error that cost two points whether his red card was right or not. I wouldn’t expect him to return to the starting line-up any time soon.
I could pick out even more faults but I don’t want to bore everyone. Such a shame though, it really is.
3. Solitary bright sparks
Bonaventura is the best player on this team, without a doubt.
As if the fact was doubted before the recent stretch of games, he has confirmed its truth by putting together a string of very good performances when those around him have failed to do so.
Such a clever player who offers constant threat, runs box-to-box and gives one of the most complete skill sets of any winger in the league.
The step-over then dash to the byline he did in the first half was magical. It’s just sad that most of the time he has little to aim at and his teammates often aren’t on the same page.
Carlos Bacca also bagged another goal to do his confidence good, and Alessio Romagnoli and Alex looked very solid at the back, dealing with all the crosses allowed due to the ineptitude of the full-backs.
4. Glaring holes
With January fast approaching, we once again have arrived at the conclusion that the squad is nowhere near good enough for the top three.
If I was Galliani (thankfully I’m not) and had plenty of money at my disposal, I’d be looking at buying three key players.
Firstly, another central midfielder is absolutely crucial. Axel Witsel is the name that is favoured at the moment but I’m not entirely sure he is the answer. The answer lies in a player like Allan, yet of course our network completely passed up that opportunity and he is now dominating at another club.
In addition, a new right-back is needed. Davide Calabria cannot be rushed into a starting spot (I know I said he should start, but that is based on the current situation – ideally we give him more time to develop) and as such we should look for an experienced defender to solidify the back line and stop the silly goals.
Also, I’d be searching for a new right winger. Niang will be useful up front but he struggled on the wing on Sunday, while Alessio Cerci and Suso are seemingly surplus to requirements. Either a player with great pace is needed, or a very technical player who will always keep defenders guessing and give the front two something to go at.
I know there are more players needed ideally, which I may cover nearer the time, though for now I’m talking realistic targets position-wise to get the rebuild going again.
5. Missed opportunities
Heading into the run of games before Christmas, it would not be unreasonable to expect four wins from the Sampdoria, Carpi, Verona and Frosinone games to reignite the European push.
It started so well and yet again the wheels seem to have fallen off. Four dropped points against relegation threatened sides has left the team adrift of the top three.
Wins in the last two games would have put Milan one point behind Juventus and three points off third place. The chance has gone and we are left staring perilously upwards once again.
The optimists (which includes myself from time to time) will look ahead to the next game and the game after that, and how six points would put the Rossoneri back amongst it, but even I am finding it hard to look at it positively.
So, that is what I took from a poor game and another disappointing afternoon.
Milan are back in action on Thursday night when they play Sampdoria away in the Coppa Italia, a game I expect us to lose.
Article by Oliver Fisher