Tag Archives: Milan

AC Milan 0-2 Juventus


Courtesy of Flickr/ All rights reserved by shakatak11

Despite being the inferior side for large portions of the match, Juventus’ clinical finishing proved decisive in their road victory at the San Siro.


Clarence Seedorf was forced to make a few changes to his starting XI that defeated Sampdoria last week. The Rossoneri were without the suspended Sulley Muntari and the injured Mario Balotelli, so Nigel de Jong and Andrea Poli slotted into midfield. Also, Christian Abbiati, Urby Emanuelson and Daniele Bonera featured in Seedorf’s back line.

Antonio Conte was without the suspended Arturo Vidal, while Giorgio Chiellini was sidelined due to injury. Claudio Marchisio and Martin Caceres slotted into Juventus’ rather predictable XI.

Great teams find ways to win even when they’re not playing particularly well, and ruthless finishing enabled Juventus to replicate this feat.

Milan’s approach without the ball

One of the peculiar feats regarding this year’s Milan side has been their tendency to perform against the top-sides, yet underachieve against lesser opposition. Despite the vast gap between both sides in the table, Milan was expected to raise their game at the San Siro, and their approach without the ball was pivotal towards their dominance for lengthy periods.

Seedorf instructed his men to press Juventus’ back line when they played out of the back. Giampaolo Pazzini, Kaka and Adel Taarabt pressed Juve’s back three, while Poli man-marked Andrea Pirlo. With Milan’s fullbacks quickly closing down Juve’s wingbacks, Conte’s men were unable to build attacks from midfield, and Milan were able to dominate possession.

Milan negated Juve’s midfield by stifling Pirlo, and ensuring that distribution from the back was limited – without Vidal’s energy in midfield, Juve struggled to compete in central areas.

Midfield battle

The biggest surprise was Juve’s poor display in midfield. The aforementioned absence of Vidal was clearly a massive loss, and with Pirlo shackled, Claudio Marchisio and Paul Pogba were expected to carry the weight. Pogba, however, was languid in midfield, thus producing arguably his worst performance this season, whereas Marchisio’s runs from midfield were promising – it was vital in the build up – but his overall impact was minimal.

In stark contrast, Milan physically imposed their authority in midfield. De Jong was fielded higher up the pitch, aiding Milan in retaining possession through pressing in Juventus’ third, whereas Riccardo Montolivo produced an extraordinary performance. He recovered the most balls in midfield (12), while his five interceptions and four tackles in midfield typified his overall impact.

Milan attacks

With Seedorf fielding Poli as his no.10, Milan’s creativity came from wide outlets. The movement from Milan’s wide men created space for Milan’s fullbacks to push into advanced positions, despite early pressure from Juve’s shuttlers. Ultimately, there were three elements to Milan attack.

  • Fullbacks push forward: Emanuelson and Ignazio Abate’s advanced positions posed a threat for a short period. Buffon comfortably saved Emanuelson’s shot from outside the box, and later on, Taarabt overloaded the right flank with Abate, but the Juventus goalkeeper easily coped with his cross. Emanuelson continued to push forward throughout the half, and his ball into the box evaded Pazzini, and fell to Poli, but the Milan striker skied his shot over the net.
  • Direct balls into Pazzini: Over the course of the first half, Juventus’ back three failed to cope with Pazzini’s movement. In the 8th min, Pazzini nodded down a long ball to Kaka, but his shot flashed wide of the net. Minutes later, Taarabt’s ball from the right flank were flicked on by Kaka towards Pazzini, but his header flew over the net. Towards the end of the half, the Italian did well to hold up the ball and turn on Andrea Barzagli, but Buffon comfortably held his tame effort.
  • Kaka direct runs: Pazzini was behind Kaka’s first legitimate goal-scoring opportunity, as he beat Leonardo Bonucci to a loose ball and drove towards goal, thus leading to Kaka forcing Buffon to make a key toe save, and his rebound was cleared off the line by Bonucci. The Brazilian tormented Juventus later in the half, when he drifted infield from the left flank, but his curling effort was pushed aside by Buffon, and Poli blasted the rebound over the net. Lastly, his direct running from the left created space for teammates as well, as he squared a pass to Montolivo, whose effort was also saved by Buffon.

Milan created an abundance of chances to take the lead, but a terrific showing from Buffon, along with woeful finishing prevented Seedorf’s men from taking the lead.

Juventus goals

While Milan struggled scoring goals, Juventus’ ruthless finishing signified the difference between both sides. Fernando Llorente’s opener stemmed from a simple long-ball that Adil Rami couldn’t clear, in which it fell into space that Marchisio ran into. The Italian located Tevez in the box, while Stephane Lichtsteiner’s forward run enabled him to latch onto the Argentine’s clever forward pass, and complete his cross for an unmarked Llorente to tap the ball into an open net.

Juventus found more space in midfield in the second half, and it was evident when Tevez received time to fire a venomous shot off the crossbar to secure three points. Tevez, in general, displayed his significance to the side – his creativity created Llorente’s opener, and his goal-scoring prowess led to his fantastic strike for Juve’s second.

In truth, he epitomizes a striker fit for Conte’s system. His willingness to press Taarabt in Milan’s third, thus creating a chance that Lichtsteiner shockingly missed, along with using his strength to easily brush aside Rami and force Abbiati to make a save illustrates what he offers Juventus. The Argentine’s remarkable goal was his 15th in 26 Serie A appearances, and it’s fair to say that not only was Tevez the best striker in the match, but he’s possibly the best in the league.


Usually matches between two top-sides – disregarding the Milan’s position in the table – are decided by the narrowest margins. Although, Milan produced a positive performance, their inability to beat an impressive Buffon haunted the Rossoneri.

The win puts Juventus in pole position to claim their third consecutive Scudetto, and this match indicated the significance of Llorente and Tevez’s arrival. The strike duo has formed an unparalleled partnership this season, as they combine superbly within the final third, while providing flexibility, consistent performances, and goals.

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Posted by on March 3, 2014 in Match Recaps, Published Work


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AC Milan 2-2 Roma


Milan came from behind twice to earn a draw against Roma.


Max Allegri made two changes to the side that drew Ajax in the Champions League, as Urby Emanuelson and Andrea Poli were included in the starting eleven.

Rudi Garcia also made two changes to the starting eleven that defeated Fiorentina last weekend. Michael Bradley replaced the suspended Miralem Pjanic, while Mattia Destro was selected over Alessandro Florenzi.

This was far from a tactical spectacle – Roma took the lead twice, but individual errors, and Allegri’s substitution’s earned Milan a valuable point.


Both sides approached the match in different manners when the opposition secured possession, which contributed to Roma’s early dominance. Milan replicated the approach used against Ajax in midweek – Mario Balotelli and Kaka closed down the Roma defenders, while Sulley Muntari and Riccardo Montolivo pushed out wide to press the fullbacks.


However, there was more emphasis on limiting Maicon’s freedom to push forward, as Muntari successfully nullified his attacking threat.

On the opposing end, Roma occasionally pressed high up the pitch in the early moments, but for the most part, they allowed Milan’s centre backs space to play out of the back.


Roma opted to press the midfield, and limit their impact on the match, thus leading to Allegri’s men conceding possession in the opening minutes.

Yet, there was a common feat in regards to the way both sides pressed.


Neither side focused on pressing the holding midfielder, thus handing Nigel De Jong and Daniele De Rossi the freedom to string passes together. This benefited Milan, as De Rossi struggled to grab a stranglehold of the match, whereas De Jong periodically dictated the tempo and triggered attacks. There was no surprise that both men were the most proficient passers in the match.


Based on Roma’s dominance in the opening period, there was no surprise that they took the lead. But, once again, we witness a goal created because half space was penetrated efficiently – similar to Walcott and Hazard’s goal this weekend.


The space behind Zapata is the half space Ljajic plays the ball into.

Dodo intercepted Mattia De Sciglio’s pass and surged forward, evading De Jong’s pass before playing the ball out wide to Adem Ljajic. Ljajic drifted centrally and played the ball into half space for Strootman to latch onto.


Strootman attacked the half space to receive the ball and delivered a cross into the six-yard box, and Destro tapped in Roma’s opener.


Roma admirably pressed Milan’s midfield in the first half, which led to their slow start, but as the half wore on, Allegri’s men located an additional route of attack.

One of the issues Roma endured in the first half was protection for Maicon. Occasionally, Bradley would tuck in and prevent Milan from overloading the right flank, but for the most part, Ljajic and Gervinho failed to track back.

Majority of Milan’s attacks in the first half were off swift transitions led by Kaka.


The Brazilian often drifted into key positions to receive the ball, and played quick passes to the left side of the pitch. This was down to Maicon’s narrow positioning, Roma’s lack of numbers at the back, and belief that Emanuelson could get the better of the Brazilian in 1v1 situations.


Emanuelson’s ambitious runs into Roma’s third pegged Maicon back, and his delivery from wide areas were somewhat threatening. Specifically, his ability to drift past Bradley and Maicon, forced Morgan De Sanctis to make a key save, which led to the corner that Roma conceded from.

Emanuelson’s threat down the left was significant in the first half, as majority of Milan’s attacking threat came through him.

Roma break down the left

Garcia’s men started the second half in fine fashion – they enjoyed their best moments in the opening 15 minutes of the half, but were unable to put the match out of reach. The recurring theme in those opening minutes was exploiting the space behind De Sciglio.

The Milan fullback lacked positional discipline for large portions of the match, and he was a liability from a defensive standpoint.

  • 48th min: Poli’s poor back heel falls to Bradley, who pushes forward and plays a long ball into the left channel for Destro to run onto. Destro holds off Zapata, turns him, and plays the ball to Bradley, who finds Maicon, but Zapata cleared his cross.


  • 49th min: Subsequently, Strootman picks up a loose ball and plays in Gervinho down the left flank, but Gabriel jumps off his line and commits a reckless challenge in the box, to earn Garcia’s men a penalty – which Strootman converted.


  • 54th min: Dodo dispossessed De Sciglio and played Gervinho forward into open space on the left flank. Gervinho drove at the Milan defence but his ball to Ljajic was intercepted.

Ljajic begins his run at half as Gervinho attacks the space behind De Sciglio.


This is the end of Ljajic’s run as Gervinho plays him in.

  • 58th min: Dodo intercepts Balotelli’s final ball, and plays a pass to Gervinho in acres of space on the left. The Ivorian attacks Zapata, and Ljajic makes a run behind him and receives a disguising pass. Ljajic plays the ball across the box to Gervinho, but Emanuelson makes a lovely tackle to prevent a shot.

Milan pushed higher up the pitch in the second half, but this provided Roma with space to penetrate on the counter, however Garcia’s men were poor in the final third.

Roma change

Garcia made a pivotal player swap in the 63rd minute by sacrificing Destro for Francesco Totti – who appeared for the first time since October. This change played a significant factor in Roma’s dominance, and it allowed Milan some breathing space.

It’s undeniable that Totti is arguably Roma’s best attacker, but Destro’s contribution to the match provided Roma with the platform to threaten Milan in wide areas. Destro’s physical presence occupied the two centrebacks, while Totti often drifted into midfield.

During the final half hour, Allegri’s fullbacks were cautious with their forward movement, and Milan’s centrebacks sat deep – so Totti’s movement didn’t drag Milan’s backline out of position. Suddenly there was no space for Roma to penetrate out wide, and their centre backs were rarely tested.


Allegri reacted quickly to Garcia’s decision to introduce Totti. Alessandro Matri replaced Poli, and Milan became 4-3-1-2 with Kaka roaming behind the two strikers.


Allegri goes 4-3-1-2 allowing Kaka freedom in the final third.

Now, Milan competed in midfield, and Balotelli had more freedom to drop deeper and link play. Prior to Matri’s inclusion, Balotelli struggled against the two Roma centrebacks, but Allegri’s switch allowed the Italian striker freedom in attack.

Roma’s midfielders became sloppy in possession, and lost control of the match, as Montolivo and Muntari constantly closed them down and broke into tackles.


Eventually, Milan gained control of the midfield, Balotelli became a more prominent figure, and Kaka roamed around the final third with a purpose.


The Brazilian was the most influential Milan player on the pitch. In the first half he was restricted to the left flank, but he drifted centrally to receive the ball and initiate quick counter attacks.

However, when Allegri went 4-3-1-2 he was given more freedom to express himself. The one key component to his success against Roma was his positional awareness. Kaka dropped deeper into midfield to help build attacks, located pockets of space effortlessly, and drifted from flank to flank to link play with the fullbacks.

Kaka was the lynchpin behind Milan’s best chances in the final 15 minutes of the match. His nonchalant run into the final third, led to Balotelli laying the ball off to Muntari, who dropped his shoulder, bet Dodo, and levelled the match. While, his incisive penetrating ball into Montolivo, led to Balotelli’s spurned opportunity in injury time.


This isn’t the Kaka the world grew to adore, but Allegri’s tactical change surely provided glimpses of his brilliance.


Roma have been brilliant over the course of the season, but their overachievement has led to a sense of complacency. By no means did they produce an outstanding performance, but they were the superior side for large portions of the match, and failed to take their chances – frankly, it’s been a recurring theme in their last five or six matches.

As for Milan, although they dropped points, this was still a positive result. They showcased their resilience, and Allegri’s changes ignited a late resurgence that should’ve led to three points. In hindsight, while Milan can use this as a confidence boost heading into the derby, Roma’s dropped points sees Juventus extend their lead at the top of the table to five points.

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Posted by on December 17, 2013 in Match Recaps, Published Work


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AC Milan 3-0 PSV


AC Milan advanced to the Champions League group stage with a convincing victory against a young PSV side.

Massimiliano Allegri made one change to his lineup that featured in the first leg, introducing Mattia De Sciglio at left back for Urby Emanuelson. Besides that, Allegri stuck with his traditional 4-3-3 that saw Mario Balotelli lead the line, alongside Kevin-Prince Boateng and Stephan El Shaarawy – while Riccardo Montolivo, Nigel de Jong and Sulley Muntari formed a midfield three.

Phillip Cocu made no changes to the side that earned a draw in last week’s first leg showdown. Tim Matavz led the line, with Memphis Depay and Park Ji-Sung on the flanks, while Adam Maher, Stijn Schaars and Georginio Wijnaldum formed a midfield three.

PSV started the match well, but Milan’s experience proved to be vital against a young side that lacked penetration.


Similar to the first leg, PSV’s energy and will to attack, allowed the Dutch side to start the match brightly. Cocu’s men had a fair amount of possession, but they looked dangerous when they didn’t have the ball. PSV pressed Milan higher up the pitch when the Italian side played the ball from the back, forcing them to concede possession or clear their lines. Considering Milan’s centre backs aren’t great on the ball, it was a logical plan – Cocu wanted his men to win the ball in Milan’s final third, but also keep the Italians away from their net. Milan were keen to get the ball wide, so Park and Depay closed down the Milan fullbacks, while Jetro Willems and Joshua Brenet got tight to the Milan wide men, further up the pitch.

Milan’s pressing was less rigorous, but it worked to fruition and led to Boateng’s opener, in the ninth minute. Opposed to pressing higher up the pitch, Milan worked hard to win the ball, when they conceded possession in their final third. They hounded PSV’s inexperienced side relentlessly, which made up for their lack of creativity, as they constantly won the ball in key areas.

Milan’s shape

Milan went through large portions of the match without the ball, but they were content without possession. They often dropped into a 4-5-1 with El Shaarawy and Boateng tucking infield – Milan covered spaces well as a unit, and nullified activity between the lines. Boateng and El Shaarawy worked hard tracking back to prevent potential overloads, while the midfield (de Jong and Montolivo) made a total of eight interceptions throughout the match.

For all the possession Cocu’s men had, they were often in deep positions. PSV’s wingers failed to find space between the lines when drifting centrally and they were unable to get in behind the Milan back line, due to the lack of penetration.

Milan’s shape defensively was superb – their midfield trio was compact and organized, which proved to be difficult for the young Dutch side to break down.

Midfield battle

One of the distinct elements in the match was the midfield battle, due to both sides playing identical systems. Milan thrived in this aspect due to their solid shape, leaving PSV’s midfield trio frustrated. Montolivo tracked Maher’s movement in advanced areas – more so to the left – Muntari was keen on lunging into tackles when Wijnaldum pushed forward, while De Jong stepped higher up the pitch to press Schaars. PSV’s midfield three offered no substantial threat in Milan’s final third, often taking shots from 25 yards out, due to their inability to play penetrating passes between the lines or get behind the Milan defence.

De Jong was one of the top players on the night – defensively he was superb, but his safe, reliable passing set the tempo for Milan’s attack. Despite the early pressure, Milan’s midfield was able to play passes freely into wide areas, and unlike the Dutch side, they played passes between the lines – Boateng received a pass between the lines from midfield, which led to his opener.

The match was relatively tight in the first half, but Milan’s dominance on both ends in midfield, merited their lead.


A constant theme in the first half was Milan’s aim to attack the right side. Depay wasn’t providing Willems protection, thus allowing Milan to create overlaps. Boateng drifted into central positions on numerous occasions, which allowed Abate to push forward and deliver crosses. Allegri’s intent to isolate Willems was evident, and Milan nearly took the lead when Montolivo attacked a large gap of space, due to Boateng’s movement, but the Italian midfielder fired is shot inches wide of the post.

Milan’s successful overlaps wasn’t decisive in the result, but it was one of the various outlets Allegri’s men used when going forward, getting them into dangerous positions in the final third.


Balotelli had himself arguably his breakout match in Europe, despite this only being a qualifier. The Italian striker displayed why many around the world are so fond of the abilities he possesses. Balotelli scored the second goal of the night, putting the tie out of reach, and although the significance of the goal was high, the Milan striker was imperious in other aspects.

One of the key traits in Balotelli’s game is his ability to turn on either foot when holding up the ball. This adds an unpredictable element to Balotelli’s game, leaving defenders questioning how to defend him, without committing a foul. The Milan striker used his brute strength to hold up the ball and bring his midfield towards him, as they sat relatively sat deep throughout the match – but his vision to link play with galloping wingers and fullbacks was exceptional. Albeit being booked for committing a cynical foul, Balotelli led the press well, and during the second half, he dropped deeper to help Milan sustain their shape.

We don’t get to see Balotelli play at this level often, but it’s evident that he’s capable of doing so, and these European nights may be beneficial to the Italian striker, who intends on being one of the best players in the world.

Second half

PSV started the second half in fine fashion, and nearly equalized when Depay delivered a cross to Wijnaldum, but Abbiati saved the Dutch midfielder’s shot from five yards out. Cocu made a tactical change introducing Florian Jozefzoon for Park, who in fairness had a quiet outing. Jozefzoon’s direct threat was what Cocu felt his side needed, and the Dutch attacker constantly tried to get the better of De Scigilo, but the Italian full back handled the situation superbly.

Abbiati had little work to do, compared to the first half, where he had to make a few key stops from distance. The second half lacked any significant themes – Milan sat deeper and deeper as the match wore on, keeping their 4-5-1 shape intact and PSV’s midfield didn’t provide creativity, penetration or the final ball needed to create clear-cut opportunities.


Milan’s defensive approach nullified PSV’s attack, whereas on the attacking end, their superiority in midfield, along with being clinical in front of goal, proved to be vital.

PSV’s young side held their own against Allegri’s men, but their main strength in midfield was cancelled out. Conceding goals in the opening nine minutes of each half, despite good starts, also didn’t play into their hands. Whether they can replicate last year’s success this season is indecisive, but this is a great lesson for the several young players in Cocu’s side who aim to move abroad in the near future.

Allegri’s men were a class above their Dutch opponents on the night – Balotelli’s mature display, the midfield trio’s ability to nullify and expose PSV, along with the standout outings from Abbiati and De Sciglio, all led to an impressive Milan performance. While they do enter the Champions League group stage, failure to strengthen the midfield and defence, could harm them later on in the tournament. In hindsight, their key men rose to the occasion, and will need to do so throughout the season, if they intend on challenging for trophies.

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Posted by on August 29, 2013 in Match Recaps, Published Work


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Inter Milan 1-1 AC Milan

Match in a sentence

AC Milan fail to increase the gap between themselves and city rivals Inter Milan, as Andrea Stramaccioni’s half time changes earned his side a valuable point in the Derby della Madonnina.


  • Stramaccioni fielded his side in a 4-4-2 with Antonio Cassano and Rodrigo Palacio leading the line. Fredy Guarin and Ricky Alvarez played on the flanks, while Esteban Cambiasso and Walter Gargano marshaled the midfield.
  • Fresh off their historic 2-0 win against Barcelona, Massimiliano Allegri opted to go with a 4-3-3. Mario Balotelli led the line with Stephane El Shaarawy and Kevin-Prince Boateng on the flanks. Allegri’s midfield three consisted of Riccardo Montolivo, Sulley Muntari and Antonio Nocerino.
  • Inter was looking to bounce back from a 4-1 drubbing by Fiorentina last week, but unfortunately for Stramaccioni’s men, the onslaught on Inter continued. Milan mirrored Fiorentina’s approach in attacking Inter by targeting Inter’s right hand side. El Shaarawy’s movement and diagonal runs dragged Yuto Nagatomo central, literally making him a third centreback. This was key because it allowed Montolivo and Muntari to play balls to the advancing Mattia De Sciglio. De Sciglio provided width to Milan’s play and created several chances, because Guarin was unable to track his runs.
  • Another narrative in the half was the space in between the lines. Inter’s midfield two in Cambiasso and Gargano were forced to pressure Milan’s midfield three, and with Inter’s backline failing to get forward, that left space for players like Balotelli to drop into. Inter was vulnerable to overloads not only on the left hand side, but also in the midfield. Boateng would occasionally drift into the midfield and in between the lines, which allowed Milan to take control of the game.
  • The space available in between the lines was key to Milan’s opening goal. Cristian Zapata dispossessed Cassano, and Boateng was able to pick up the ball in between the lines. Boateng then played in El Shaarawy, who precisely slotted his shot past a superb Handanovic.
  • Milan frankly should’ve been a few goals up, because they were by far the superior side. Unfortunately, the Rossonieri ran into a hot goalkeeper by the name of Samir Handanovic. Handanovic made three fantastic saves on Balotelli, to deny Milan the opportunity to increase their lead.
  • It was a disappointing half from Inter, and Stramaccioni’s only change was to go back to his initial setup, which meant Javier Zanetti and Nagatomo swapped flanks. The change nullified Milan’s main threat in the first half, which was De Sciglio’s width. It also allowed Nagatomo to get forward, and provide width.
  • In the 68th minute, Stramaccioni brought on Ezequiel Schelotto to play out wide and he pushed Guarin into the midfield. Three minutes later Stamaccioni was rewarded as Schelotto met Nagatomo’s cross, and Christian Abbiati could only watch it soar into the net. Prior to the goal Inter looked threatening as Guarin was drifting centrally, linking up with Cassano. Milan despite controlling possession was flat in the second half, as fatigue began to kick in.
  • Inter dropped into a 4-1-4-1 pushing Palacio out wide and introducing Zdravko Kuzmanovic to sit deep. Stramaccioni’s side attacked with caution as Milan continued to dictate the game in terms of possession. Both sides had chances to claim a winner late on, but were unsuccessful.
  • It was a game of two halves that saw Milan dominate a first half, where they frankly should’ve been up by a few goals. Stramaccioni’s side came out aggressive and motivated in the second half, and the Italian gaffer’s changes paid off to earn his side a valuable point. Handanovic’s saves proved to be vital, but Milan wasn’t clinical in front of goal and that gave Inter a lifeline.
  • Both sides seemed fatigued after midweek fixtures in Europe, but out of the two sides, Inter should be worried. The race for a Champions League spot might go down to the wire this season as the gap between 3rd-8th place is five points. Failure to stay consistent during this final stretch of the season will be crucial if these sides intend on playing in Europe’s elite competition next year.

Three Stars

1.    Samir Handanovic

2.    Stephane El Shaarawy

3.    Riccardo Montolivo

Honourable mention to Mattia De Sciglio

Tyrrell Meertins

Follow @TEEWHYox

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Posted by on February 24, 2013 in Match Recaps


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Fiorentina 4-1 Inter Milan

Match in a sentence

Stevan Jovetic and Adem Ljajic both shared two goals each, as Fiorentina blitzed Inter Milan at the Stadio Artemio Franchi and joined the race for the final Champions League spot.


  • Andrea Stramaccioni fielded his side in a 4-3-1-2 with Antonio Cassano and Rodrigo Palacio leading the line. Fredy Guarin played behind the strikers and Zdravko Kuzmanovic, Mateo Kovacic and Esteban Cambiasso played in midfield.
  • Vincenzo Montella opted to play in a 4-3-3 with Stevan Jovetic, Adem Ljajic and Juan Cuadrado as the front three. The midfield consisted of Alberto Aquilani, David Pizarro and Borja Valero.
  • This match was everything we expected it not to be; frankly it was men against boys from start to finish. Fiorentina took the game to Inter from the start, and they looked dangerous sending balls over the Inter Milan defence for Llajic and Jovetic to run onto.  Jovetic and Ljajic drifted to the left as it looked like they targeted Javier Zanetti, but they caused havoc all over the final third.
  • Inter sat deep in two banks of four, inviting the Fiorentina pressure, and looked to break on the counter. Coincidentally, whenever Inter got into Fiorentina’s half, Fiorentina mirrored Inter’s defensive approach. The difference was Fiorentina defended better than Inter for 90 minutes and the way both sides broke on the counter.
  • Inter lacked cohesion going forward and was unable to break as a unit.  The space between Guarin and the midfield three was too big (due to how deep they sat), and Guarin was unable to link up with Palacio or Cassano.
  • Fiorentina on the other hand broke quick in numbers whenever they won possession and always looked a threat going forward. The other difference was that when they lost possession, they were able to get numerous bodies back into position quickly. Inter left Palacio and Cassano high as it would create 2v2 or 2v3 chances on the break, but Montella’s men were aware of that and with help from Inter being unable to break quickly Palacio and Cassano had a quiet afternoon.
  • Fiorentina controlled possession throughout the game and it took only 13 minutes for the Viola to take the lead. Inter’s backline was unable to deal with a cross that Jovetic flicked on for the unmarked Ljajic, who headed the ball past Samir Handanovic.
  • Another key factor that separated these sides was how both sides pressed one another. Fiorentina pressed the Inter backline and midfield when they picked up the ball in their third of the pitch, whereas Inter decided to apply no pressure to Fiorentina in their third. Fiorentina’s pressure led to Jovetic’s fabulous second goal. Inter tried to play from the back and Aquilani ‘s pressure forced Inter to concede possession to Jovetic, and the Montenegrin striker rifled his shot past Handanovic.

  • Inter Milan chose not to press the Fiorentina players in their half of the field and it allowed Pizarro to dominate the game. The Chilean midfielder was able to drop deep and pick up the ball with no pressure applied, and he was allowed to string passes around the pitch at will. Pizarro conducted the game during his 69 minutes on the pitch, dominating the midfield area. Inter’s midfield was anonymous and the minimal times they had possession in Fiorentina’s half they moved the ball too slow and were unable to create any openings.
  • Inter was fortunate to be down two goals at the half as Handanovic made several vital saves, keeping the Nerazzuri in the match. Stramaccioni made a tactical change in the second half by bringing on Ricky Alvarez for Kovacic. Alvarez moved to the right flank and Guarin dropped to the midfield, as Inter became a 4-3-3.
  • The same narrative occurred in the second half as Fiorentina continued to push forward, but they defended with caution dropping Ljajic deeper when they didn’t have the ball, becoming a 4-5-1.  The second half also highlighted how fragile Juan Jesus and Andrea Ranocchia are as defenders.
  • Jovetic and Ljajic added to their tally in the opening 20 minutes of the second half and both goals were down to defensive errors. Inter were unable to clear their lines and an unmarked Jovetic was played in alone with Handanovic courtesy of a wonderful back heel pass from Aquilani. Jovetic calmly slotted his shot past the Inter goalkeeper to make it 3-0. Then Ljajic curled in a shot from outside the box, in which Ranocchia should’ve closed down the Serbian, but he allowed the Ljajic all the time in the world.
Aquilani's backheel pass to Jovetic GIF. Click it!

Aquilani’s backheel pass to Jovetic GIF. Click it!

  • Cassano scored a great goal towards the end of the game as a consolation, but that was arguably Inter’s worst game of the season. They were flat from the start, the midfield three lacked creativity and their defending as a team and individually was lethargic. With the loss, Inter are now in severe danger of going another season without Champions League football. After starting the season with 10 away wins in all competitions, the Nerazzuri are winless in their last nine. Inter will need a far better performance next Sunday as Stramaccioni’s men will need a result to stay in the hunt for third place, when they take on cross town rivals AC Milan.

  • It was a dominant performance tonight from the Viola and if there was any type of result needed to boost the teams confidence, then it was this one. They outclassed Inter for 90 minutes and now sit two points away from third, playing a game more than Lazio. Fiorentina showed tonight that they’re capable of contending for European football, and if they can build on this result, the thought of it wouldn’t be too farfetched.

Three Stars

1.    David Pizarro

2.    Stevan Jovetic

3.    Adem Ljajic

Tyrrell Meertins

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Posted by on February 17, 2013 in Match Recaps


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AC Milan 1-0 Juventus

Match in a sentence

A superb team performance, combined with a controversial penalty call, equaled a second Juventus loss this season against a side from Milan.


  • Massimiliano Allegri opted to line up in a 4-3-3 that saw Kevin Prince Boateng start in the middle with Robinho on the right and Stephan El Shaarawy on the left. The midfield three consisted of Nigel De Jong, Riccardo Montolivo and Antonio Nocerino.
  • Angelo Alessio stuck to a 3-5-2 that saw Mirko Vucinic and Fabio Quagliarella start upfront. Martin Caceres replaced Giorgio Chiellini who wasn’t fit and Mauricio Isla was preferred over Stephan Lichsteiner.
  • Juventus controlled possession from the start of the game, pegging back Milan into 4-3-1-2 with Boateng dropping deeper to help out in the midfield. Milan pressed well and Juventus lost possession several times and it allowed Milan to break. Like they did against Chelsea, whenever El Shaarawy and Robinho ran at the Juventus backline, they looked vulnerable.
  • Juventus found space on the right hand side through Isla, but the Chilean was extremely poor. His crosses weren’t good enough and Milan defender Kevin Constant made easy work of the limited amount of times Isla came forward.
  • Like last seasons 1-1 draw, there was controversy in this game and Isla was involved. Nocerino nodded Robinho’s cross into Isla’s ribs, but the referee pointed to the spot. Robinho placed his shot past Buffon and Milan took the lead.
  • After seeing the replay it was clear that the ball hit Isla’s ribs, but Isla does deserve blame for having his arms in the air while trying to block the shot.

  • In the second half, Simone Padoin replaced Isla, and he had more impact on the game. Padoin stretched the pitch and whipped in dangerous balls into the box. The problem was Juventus players were unable to get on the end of them.
  • Milan had a different approach to the second half as they transitioned into a 4-3-1-2. Boateng stayed deep and helped Montolivo and Co outnumber Juve in the middle, as Milan sat deeper and deeper as a team. They slowly became a 4-5-1 as El Shaarawy tracked back to help Constant and a tiring Robinho led the line.
  • A few changes were made towards the end of the game as Giampaolo Pazzini replaced Robinho for Milan. Paul Pogba and Sebastien Giovinco replaced Fabio Quagliarella and Kwado Asamoah. Pazzini led the line and didn’t offer much, but he held the ball up, which allowed Milan to mount a few counter attacks.
  • Juventus’ changes left them in a 2-6-2 for the final quarter of the match. Caceres provided the width on the left, Pogba was on the right with Padoin, Vidal sat deeper, and Pirlo and Marchisio were advanced. Juventus threw everything at Milan, but were unable to get a goal.
  • Many will blame their midweek fixture against Chelsea for Juventus’ sloppy and fatigued play, but that’s not the case. Juventus lacked creativity in the final third, where they struggle to score goals and create chances. Against Milan they simply weren’t good enough.
  • Milan replicated what their city rivals did earlier this month, as they put in a terrific performance. The midfield of Nocerino, Montolivo and De Jong nullified Marchisio, Pirlo and Vidal. Fullbacks Constant and Mattia De Sciglio did a great job on Juve’s wide men. Milan was organized, compact, and worthy winners on the night. The win caps off a great week as they also advanced into the knockout round of the Champions League. Will this be enough to save Allegri’s job? Possibly not, but it’s a start.

Three Stars

1. Riccardo Montolivo

2. Mattia De Sciglio

3. Kevin Constant


Tyrrell Meertins

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Posted by on November 27, 2012 in Match Recaps


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