It’s been a tough week for the Rossoneri as supporters question what’s missing from AC Milan on the pitch.
In the game against Newcastle United, the Rossoneri came away with what feels like empty-handed, while the Magpies preserved a clean sheet and took a valuable point back to Tyneside. After being humiliated 5-1 in the Milan derby at the weekend, AC Milan’s first UEFA Champions League encounter in 2023-24 might be summed up in an often-used statement, “All that was lacking was a goal.”
From a purely results-based perspective, this was not the best way to kick off what promises to be a very challenging group. Especially as Paris Saint-Germain have already established themselves as early frontrunners with their 2-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund.
AC Milan came close but were missing something
Coach Stefano Pioli may draw a lot of encouragement from this performance and use it as a springboard for future success. The problem is that there are certain areas of improvement that need attention.
The 5-1 loss to Inter last weekend shook the 2021-22 Serie A winners to their core for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it seemed to highlight the defense’s unpredictability, which had been suspect following last year and this summer’s exhibition games.
Against the Nerazzurri, who repeatedly exposed a transitioning Milan, the team looked like amateurs for the entire length of the match. Additionally, every time Simone Inzaghi’s players advanced, they seemed to have a good chance of scoring.
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Missing from AC Milan: Addressing attacking woes
AC Milan needs to address a star who has so much untapped potential: Rafael Leão. With the weight of expectation on his shoulders as AC Milan’s finest player and one of the few true game-changers, he must not disappoint.
He was Pioli’s best bet to secure all three points in the first half against Newcastle. The Portuguese is still in his early 20s and has steadily improved statistically over the last several seasons. However, his mistakes and subsequent shifts in body language are often quite telling.
The 24-year-old winger must become aware of his newfound leadership responsibilities and the weight placed on him to make game-changing plays.
In addition, we can’t talk about the offensive struggles of the Red and Blacks this season without bringing up Olivier Giroud.
With four goals in five games in all competitions, the stats show that he is the team’s leading scorer so far. But the worrying stat is that only one of those goals was scored during regular play and the rest were the result of penalties. The veteran’s knowledge and normal clinical finishing may be useful, but he can’t be overused this term as well.
Important lesson to learn
After the disappointing outcome of the Derby della Madonnina, it was crucial to see Pioli’s squad dominate and generate several scoring opportunities against Newcastle.
The obvious dominance shown on the field made victory the only proper outcome. The Rossoneri were lacking one key ingredient, though, and that was a goal.
UEFA Champions League play necessitates capitalizing on opportunities, scoring goals, and allowing the other teams in your group to play catch-up. Instead, AC Milan may have an uphill battle after just four or five games.
Photo: IMAGO & Beautiful Sports
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