Vincenzo Montella’s Milan were a last minute penalty away from remaining undefeated in Serie A against reigning champions Juventus after producing a really impressive performance at Juventus Stadium. Here we take a look at the tactics he employed against Max Allegri’s men.
Montella lined Milan up in a 4-5-1 when defending and fluid 3-5-2/3-4-1-2 when in possession. The line up read: Donnarumma; Zapata-Paletta-Romagnoli-Di Sciglio; Ocampos-Pasalic-Sosa-Bertolacci-Deulofeu; Bacca. Juve continued in their 4-2-3-1 with Buffon; Barzagli-Bonucci-Chiellini-Asamoah; Khedira-Marchisio; Alves-Dybala-Pjaca; Higuain.
In the video you see Milan’s work in the defensive phase. Deulofeu and Ocampos track back to create a midfield five. Note the minimal space between the defensive and midfield lines. Really tight and compact as they steer Juve into the wide areas.
On occasions, Mario Pasalic would leave his midfield position to push up alongside Carlos Bacca to press, especially when Miralem Pjanic got the ball deep.
When going forward, Montella mostly changed Milan’s 4-5-1 defensive shape into a fluid 3-5-2 when attacking where the left sided winger, first Ocampos then Deulofeu, moving centrally just off Bacca while the right sided winger hugged the touchline. The left back Di Sciglio pushed on down the left into the space vacated by the central positioning of the winger. The right back Zapata stayed deep to create a back three with him to the right, Paletta in the centre and Romagnoli to the left. Sosa and Bertolacci balanced in midfield with Pasalic more free to move between the lines.
The formation is extremely flexible and constantly shift between 3-4-3, 3-5-2 and 3-3-4 based on the positioning of some of the players. The back three create a solid base to build from and the link up play between Deulofeu, Ocampos and Pasalic behind Bacca was extremely impressive at times. Juve found it hard to cope at times and Milan should have scored more than their solitary strike from Bacca.
Here we see the way Milan steer Juve to the wide area down the left, press intensely, win the ball and construct a terrific attack where the movement in possession is fantastic. Only the final pass from Pasalic let Milan down from scoring a truly fantastic goal.
The last minute penalty when the cross from Stephan Lichtsteiner appeared to hit Mattia Di Sciglio’s stomach rather than hand meant Paulo Dybala could seal a vital win for Juventus. Vincenzo Montella and AC Milan could still take plenty of encouragement from their performance and especially the display from new signings Gerard Deulofeu and Lucas Ocampos who looks really good additions to Montella’s expansive style of play. Montella are really impressing with his work concerning Milan’s style of play, but they are still only seventh in the league.
Fiorentina made it two clean sheets in two as Paulo Sousa’s men found a late winner from Nikola Kalinic to overcome Cagliari at the Artemio Franchi. It was certainly about time after a poor run of form for La Viola.
Inter were incredible at San Siro against Atalanta in an eagerly anticipated clash between the two black and blue European contenders from Lombardy. Mauro Icardi started the 7-1 rout with a quick first half hattrick, and Ever Banega didn’t want to be worse as he chipped in with a hattrick of his own as well as two assists. Roberto Gagliardini scored for the second week in a row with a superb strike from distance against his former club. It was a surprising capitulation from Atalanta, but what a performance from Inter. 7-1!
Lazio have one of the best tridente in Serie A, and they all scored against Torino. Ciro Immobile struck first but Maxi Lopez equalised for Toro. Felipe Anderson and Keita Baldé still won it for the home side with two late goals. Simone Inzaghi has now steered Lazio to fourth and they still have an outside chance of making the Champions League. Remarkable achievement.
Neighbours Roma keep winning at the top also, easily defeating Palermo in Sicily by three goals. Stephan El Shaarawy, Edin Dzeko and Bruno Peres got the goals as the relentless Romans march on behind Juventus.
The Zdenek Zeman revolution at Pescara didn’t last long. After the opening 5-0 win over Genoa they have now lost two in a row after Udinese comfortably won 3-1 at the Adriatico. Duvan Zapata, Jakub Janktu and Cyril Thereau got the goals for the visitors before Sulley Ali Muntari (remember him?) scored a consolation for Pescara.
The Lanterna-derby between Genoa and Sampdoria was, as always, a fantastic encounter decided by Luis Muriel’s late strike for Samp. Still, Andrea Mandorlini has started well at Genoa after changing Ivan Juric’ relentless 3-4-3 to a more controlled 3-5-2 with Giovanni Simeone joined by Mauricio Pinilla up front.
Napoli swiftly dispatched of Crotone at San Paolo after goals from Dries Mertens and a double from Lorenzo Insigne. Crotone were disappointed after two penalties and a sending off, and made a jab against Napoli on their official instagram.
Chievo crushed Empoli in the battle of 4-3-1-2 at the Bentegodi as goals from Roberto Inglese, Sergio Pellissier, Valter Birsa and Bostjan Cesar condemned the Tuscans to a heavy defeat in Verona. Chievo are once again safe and their consistent over-performance is beautiful, even though their football might not always be. All hail Rolando Maran at the Chievo bench.
Bologna made the short trip to Sassuolo in search of a vital victory to basically confirm their safety, and got it after Mattia Destro scored the only goal in the game. Bologna will therefore likely remain in the top flight and can start building a club for the higher section of the league with their new owner. Sassuolo are also safe but it remains to be seen if Eusebio Di Francesco sticks around next season. He’s been linked with everyone from Fiorentina, Roma, Napoli and even Juventus.
Player of the week
Ever Banega scored three and added two assists in a five star performance for Inter.
Coach of the week
It has to be Stefano Pioli after that emphatic win against Atalanta.
Goal of the week
Keita Baldé´s late strike for Lazio was special.