Lessons learnt from pre-season!!

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Our beloved Ac Milan’s pre-season has come to an end rossoneri! The final results have not been so good but the tactical work behind has been hard, in fact we began to see the tactical asset of Giampaolo in our team in no more than two months of training and hard work, also there’s still work to be done in order to engage the last ones who have joined the group, such as Bennacer, Leão, Paquetà, Duarte and Kessié into this new tactical scheme.

The following article will recap all the pre-season friendlies with an analytical view.

The pre-season journey begins with first friendly match against Serie C team Novara where Marco Giampaolo’s tried line-up that he will continuosly use trought the preseason, the 4-3-1-2. During this match Giampaolo tried for the first time Suso as a trequartista and Castillejo as the second striker behind Piątek, also Theo Hernandez made his debut subbing Rodriguez and scoring with a beautiful shot from long distance.

The match however ended with a 1-1 draw. Besides the draw, the team started to adapt to this new system and the tactical view of Giampaolo, where the ball possessiong and game dominance is vital.

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Marco Giampaolo and Paolo Maldini. Credits to acmilan.

Further, the first round of the International Champions Cup take off in Kansas City (USA) against Bayern, where Giampaolo tried this time Theo Hernandez as the starter RB biglia as the CDM, Çalhanoglu and Borini as CM, Daniel Madini made his debut as the CAM and in the attack the Piątek and Castillejo couple.

The Rossoneri, who appeared in the field without defense (and also lost Theo Hernández due to injury), however, despite the 1-0 lost the team did not disfigure, showing that they had already assimilated some scheme and movement of the new coach Marco Giampaolo.

Bayern Monaco Milan ICC 2019 Coman Calabria
Coman and Calabria during the friendly match. Credits to acmilan.

Moreover, the second friendly match of the ICC takes place at the Gillette Stadium in Massachussets (USA) where Milan lost against Benfica 1-0, also the notice of Cutrone’s departure to Wolves took place. The following are the considerations of the match:

  • Giampaolo tried the following line-up that will become the most used due to best physical condition of the players: (4-3-1-2): G. Donnarumma; Davide Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodríguez; Borini, Biglia, Hakan Çalhanoğlu; Suso; Samu Castillejo, Piątek.
  • Borini as CM fits well in Giampaolo’s system, also Giampaolo’s hand in Milan’s movements on the pitch can be seen already.
  • The team applies, follows the lines of the technician, shows to be available and ready to learn more. The players are dedicated to sacrifice and Milan, it must be said, plays an enjoyable kick. Especially in the offensive phase. With a full staff at full capacity, and new purchases added to the group, further improvements can be seen. Too bad for the end result.
Massaro, Rui Costa and Baresi during Milan Benfica friendly match. Credits to acmilan.

Then Milan faced Manchester United at the ‘Principality Stadium’ in Cardiff (Wales) in the last match of the ICC. Milan draw 2-2 and then lost in penalties but word defeat is harsh on Milan considering that there were more positive takeaways than negative. The lineup was the same used in the previous match and Rafel Leão was already training with team.

However, this Milan gradually begins to take shape. On the pitch, the team interprets the 4-3-1-2 in a more than dignified manner. And it should be considered how Borini and Castillejo, for example, play out of role. Suso scored a beautiful goal and he seems comfortable as the trequartista.

Conti played good subbing Calabria, with hunger and desire. This team grows almost always with the passing of the minutes, to play to the full with the returning Franck Kessié and Lucas Paquetà. One thing is certain: the Devil plays soccer. For more detailed analysis we invite you to read Chris Penn’s column!

Ac Milan’s players after the clash with Man United. Credits to acmilan.

Further, Bennacer, Leo Duarte and Rafael Leão are announced, Paquetà and Kessié already started training with the team and adapting to the new tactics.

Additionally, another friendly match is programmed for the 10th of August, in which Milan played against Feronikeli (team from Kosovo), in the city of Pristina where a lot of Milan fans welcomed the players in a warm way! Milan managed to win 2-0 and the considerations of the match are the following:

  • Milan played as usual, but this time Gabbia started over Musacchio, Krunic over Borini, André Silva over Piątek.
  • Rafael Leão subbed Castillejo and imposes himself with his body, starts with the ball and looks for space to shoot. At ease and soon starred with an assist for Borini. Physical power.
  • Borini subbed a sufficient Krunic, he scores the second goal of the Rossoneri. Precious in the defensive phase also the usual passion and desire.
  • Bonaventura, Paquetà and Conti entered the match with grit, quality and desire, with Conti hitting the crossbar in an occasion.
  • Suso feels at ease in the role of trequartista. The offensive game of Milan passes by him, inspired and of quality. Just like Mr. Giampaolo asks. Another goal on free kick, perfect. Quality, hits and play. Nothing is missing.
  • Marco Giampaolo tried two teams, with excellent answers. Orderly defensive phase, pressing everyone and offensive courage. The team turns with quality, racing and determination. The Rossoneri fight on every ball, without forgetting the sacrifice and redress phase. Precise ideas, his boys follow him and it shows.
AC Milan’s players after the match against Feronikeli. Credits to acmilan.

Finally, Milan played its last pre-season match against Serie C team Cesena, with where we saw Milan struggling due to the good Cesena dephensive phase. These are the considerations of the last game before the season begins:

  • Giampaolo used what could be the team that will face Udinese on the first day of Serie A. The 4-3-1-2 with: G. Donnarumma; Davide Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodríguez; Borini, Biglia, Çalhanoğlu; Suso; Samu Castillejo, Piątek.
  • Suso struggled this time remaining trapped by Cesena’s defense.
  • Leo Duarte made his debut subbing Musacchio, he played decently.
  • Kessié had his first minutes of play against the team that launched him among the professionals. He did it very well alongside Paquetà who also entered the match with grit and freshness.
  • Piątek’s summer ends with zero goals despite playing all the matches. Nothing to say if he should break out on Sunday against Udinese, otherwise the figure will become as worrying as his performance.
  • A disappointing 0-0 for Milan and its fans: the impression is that it will serve to push the accelerator to start with a bang on sunday against Udinese.
Piątek struggling against Cesena defense. Credits to acmilan.

Furthermore, the following are my final considerations of the pre-season:

  • We need players like Bennacer, Paquetà and Kessié for the midfield and Leão for the attack to fit and adapt to Giampaolo’s scheme, in order to give us a more creative and rapid way of interpret matches.
  • I consider that André Silva is not being useful to Giampaolo’s scheme, and players like Mariano or Correa can add the spark that we need for the attack.
  • Ricardo Rodriguez needs to push more in the attack, as Theo Hernandez will be back in a month approximately, we will need him to defend less and attack more. Also with Strinic and Laxalt on the way out, let’s see what is going to happen in that role.
  • The defensive repart with Musacchio, Calabria, Conti and Romagnoli responded good in this pre-season. With the inserting of Leo Duarte and the return from the injuried Caldara we should be affixed so.
  • Further I consider that players like Çalhanoglu and Castillejo need to work more to interpret better the Giampaolo scheme, they have not being enough sufficient in my opinion.
  • Suso is adapting well and showing good things as the trequartista, even if he struggled against Cesena I believe that he can finally find that persistence he needs in this new position.
  • Piątek needs to adapt better to this scheme, maybe Castillejo is not the right partner for him, let’s see if Leão will adapt as the second striker or something in the market will be done. However he needs to score to get rid of this negative pre-season streak.

In conclusion, the team needs to continue working hard physically and tactically, it is not easy to adapt quickly to a new game system, so there is still work to be done. The sensations are good, this is a new Milan which wants to show a more purposeful play, ball possession and attack, to make us enjoy the style of play and to get positive results. As our coach said in the last press conference “We play an ambitious football, it takes time and patience”.

Forza Milan!

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