RSS

Tag Archives: San Siro

Roma combine defensive organization and quick transitions to defeat Inter Milan

Image

Over the past few weeks, Rudi Garcia’s fantastic start as Roma manager has been overlooked, laughed about, or simply ignored. Unlike last season, when Zdenek Zeman’s tenure was highly anticipated, Garcia’s was closely critiqued – at some points harshly ridiculed. But as we embark upon the second international break of the season, Garcia’s men has silenced more critics, and remain undefeated at the top of the table.

 Image

This weekend it was Walter Mazzarri’s Inter Milan that provided another obstacle for Roma to overcome. The Giallorossi produced a mature performance at the San Siro, combining defensive organization with quick transitions on the counter, to keep their unbeaten record intact. And it was their two-standout performers this season – Gervinho and Totti – that were brilliant on the night.

Francesco Totti continues to look ageless in Roma’s 4-3-3, which arguably is a 4-6-0 due to the Italian’s tactical intelligence. Totti is not your typical conventional striker – he drops deeper into midfield searching for space to receive the ball, allowing his wingers to attack the space behind him. Nonetheless, it was Totti who led the cavalry to three points with a first half brace.

However, Roma’s goals stemmed from Garcia’s initial game plan – defend deep and get the ball to their wide players . The Giallorossi pounced on Andrea Ranocchia’s failed clearance, and Alessandro Florenzi played a pass to Gervinho, who laid the ball off for Totti to thump a fabulous strike past Samir Handanovic. Totti added to his tally from the spot 20 minutes later, courtesy of Gervinho’s direct threat from wide areas, which led to Alvaro Pereira fouling the Ivorian in the box.

Florenzi put the match out of reach in the 43rd minute, which showcased a brilliant counter-attack straight off the training ground. Totti cleared his lines, playing a ball towards the advancing Kevin Strootman, who drove through the heart of the Nerazzuri midfield – the Dutch midfielder slid the ball into Florenzi, who hammered a one-time shot into the far corner.

For all of Roma’s attacking threat on the counter, their defensive work was equally impressive. Inter was allowed to dictate possession as Roma dropped into their shape, but Mazzarri’s men were unable to get behind the Giallorossi backline. The midfield trio of Daniele De Rossi, Strootman and Miralem Pjanic did a great job in minimizing space between the lines, while maintaining a compact shape ahead of the back four. Inter relied on width from their wingbacks, but Florenzi and Gervinho worked diligently to nullify Pereira and Yuto Nagatomo’s threat from wide areas.

As Inter Milan pushed forward looking to find a goal, Gervinho became Roma’s biggest threat going forward. The Ivorian was the main outlet going forward confidently skipping past defenders, as he was a nuisance from wide areas – which was a rarity in his overall game during his time at Arsenal. Gervinho and Totti completed the most passes in the attacking third of any player in a Roma shirt, as Garcia’s men stifled Inter’s attack, an targeted the space available on the counter.

Roma produced another terrific performance against an Inter Milan side that were on a great run of form, prior to the result. Last season the Giallorossi were abysmal at the back, and would’ve struggled to maintain a three-goal lead, but Garcia’s men – who have only conceded one goal thus far – continue to be magnificent defensively. It’s uncertain as to whether Roma will be able to sustain such brilliance for the duration of the season, but it’s refreshing to hear the Giallorossi mentioned in the title conversation.

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Match Recaps, Published Work

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

AC Milan 1-1 Napoli

Two first half goals in the span of four minutes, saw Napoli share a point with 10-man Milan, as they remain four points clear of the Rossonieri for second place.

Image

Walter Mazzarri made one change to his side that defeated Genoa last weekend. Juan Zuniga replaced Pablo Armero as a wingback in Mazzarri’s 3-5-2. Edinson Cavani and Goran Pandev played as strikers while Marek Hamsik, Valon Behrami, Blerim Dzemaili and Christian Maggio made up the midfield five.

Image

Massimiliano Allegri made three changes to the side that gave up a two-goal lead against Fiorentina last week. Milan played in their traditional 4-3-3, which saw Giampaolo Pazzini replace the suspended Mario Balotelli, Robinho started over Stephan El Shaarawy and Kevin Constant was chosen over Mattia De Sciglio. The main headline going into this match was whether El Shaarawy was fit or if Allegri didn’t want to risk him getting booked, in which he’d be suspended for next week’s clash against Juventus.

Shape

Milan had the ball for majority of the first half, and this forced Napoli to drop into a 5-3-2. Mazzarri’s men stood off and allowed Milan to dictate the match, and sacrificed the wings, so that Milan wouldn’t find space in between the lines. Ignazio Abate was a key outlet throughout the game, as he often got forward, and delivered a few crosses into the box. Boateng drifting centrally, also played a factor, and the Ghanaian midfielder had a few chances to put the Rossonieri ahead in the opening minutes, but was denied by Morgan De Sanctis.

When Milan didn’t have the ball, they’d press the Napoli midfield, and drop into a 4-5-1. The wingers occasionally tracked back to help their defenders, but Boateng did a poor job with his defensive duties, which led to Napoli’s equalizer.

Image

Hamsik and Zuniga combine as Boateng fails to trackback

Boateng came off injured in the 37th minute, and M’Baye Niang’s introduction balanced their 4-5-1 as he tracked phenomenally. Niang’s introduction halted the impact Zuniga and Hamsik were having on the left flank.

Image

Hamsik and Zuniga fail to combine once Niang replaces Boateng

Flamini vs Hamsik

This was the main battle in the first half, which like the score line, ended in a draw. Both men had great opening halves, and they were both involved in the only goals of the match. Flamini made forward runs occasionally, which eventually led to his goal, when he ran past Hamsik and fired a loose ball past De Sanctis. With Flamini moving forward, Hamsik had to be disciplined, and he was pegged back, which affected Napoli’s counter attack if it didn’t initially go through the Slovakian midfielder.

Due to Boateng staying higher up the pitch, Hamsik was able to connect with Zuniga and push forward up the field. There was no surprise that Hamsik was involved with the goal, Zuniga and Hamsik combined yet again as Hamsik ran past Flamini and the Slovakian midfielder played in Pandev who equalized from six yards out. Hamsik and Flamini played decisive roles in the goals, but faded away in the second half.

Image

Flamini/Hamsik’s passes

Image

Hamsik and Flamini ineffective once Napoli equalized

Montolivo

The Italian has been the focal point of Milan’s midfield since arriving at the club, playing as a regista. Montolivo has made an impact in this hardworking Milan midfield, and usually when Montolivo has a good game, the Rossonieri win. Montolivo enjoyed the opening 30 minutes of the match, as Napoli insisted on allowing the midfielder time on the ball.

Montolivo connected with Abate, as the Italian fullback was his main outlet, and this resulted in several crosses played in.

Image

Once Napoli fell behind, Mazzarri encouraged Pandev and a few of his teammates, to get closer to Montolivo. The closer they got to the Italian midfielder the less of an impact he had, and to no surprise, Montolivo completed more passes in his opening 30 minutes, compared to the entire match.

Image

Montolivo’s impact on the match prior/after Milan’s goal

Second half

There was no tactical adjustments at half-time and the game proceeded in the same pattern. Both sides sat off and allowed the centre backs to spread passes across the pitch, as midfielders were being pressed. Milan had most of the possession, but was unable to create legitimate goal-scoring opportunities.

Milan was unable to provide penetrating passes or spark any creativity in the final third, and Napoli was happy to soak up pressure, and break on the counter. Both sides struggled in front of goal and it was down to the lack of service to the strikers.

Image

Pazzini failed to get a shot on target, while Abbiati grabbed Cavani’s one chance. Cavani and Pazzini were isolated, as both sides struggled to create a link between the midfield and strikers.

Image

Substitutions

Mazzarri made straight swaps by introducing Lorenzo Insigne for Pandev and Armero for Hamsik. Armero nearly earned Napoli three points, but his injury time shot was saved by Abbiati, while Insigne did a better job linking with the midfield and Cavani.

The match turned on its head in the 72nd minute, when Flamini was sent off for a dangerous challenge on Zuniga. El Shaarawy replaced Robinho, while Emanuele Calaio replaced Maggio. Mazzarri introduced another striker, while Allegri brought on El Shaarawy, who’s capable of tracking back and defending, as well as breaking on the counter.

Milan’s final change was another player swap, as De Sciglio came on for Constant. The changes didn’t have any significance to the match, nor were their any changes of shape. Napoli pressed efficiently when Milan were down to 10 men, forcing them to concede possession easily, but Mazzarri’s men failed to take the lead. Calaio also came close to winning the game in injury time, but his header flew wide of the net.

Conclusion

Two moments of brilliance keep Napoli four points ahead of Milan for the final automatic Champions League spot. It was a dull encounter, which saw both sides create few chances, but leaves Mazzarri the happier of managers.

With Juventus away next week, Milan will be looking to stay on pace with Napoli, as Fiorentina is lurking over their shoulder.

Three Stars

  1. Ignazio Abate
  2. Juan Zuniga
  3. Paolo Cannavaro

Tyrrell Meertins

Follow @TEEWHYox

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 15, 2013 in Match Recaps

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Analysis

  • 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

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 24, 2013 in Match Recaps

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Analysis

  • 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

Follow @TEEWHYox

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 27, 2012 in Match Recaps

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,