Milan fell to a 1-0 defeat to Juventus in their Supercoppa clash in Jeddah on Wednesday, with Cristiano Ronaldo’s header all that separated the two sides.
After a bright start, the Rossoneri gradually began to allow Juve to dictate proceedings, although we certainly had our chances to find a way through their backline before fading as the game went on.
From Patrick Cutrone’s effort which struck the crossbar to countless attempts from distance and late controversy over a failed penalty shout, it wasn’t meant to be for us as focus must now switch back to Serie A and the Coppa Italia immediately.
Nevertheless, there were key talking points from the clash, as detailed below:
1] Wasteful Milan must be more clinical
Especially against a side as good as Juventus, Milan have to be swift, decisive and clinical in their attacks to take advantage of any rare openings that present themselves.
Whether it was Franck Kessie’s ongoing failure to deliver the right pass in the final third, to Samu Castillejo and Hakan Calhanoglu’s frustrating shortcomings on the flanks, there was no real genuine threat as we tended to surrender possession too easily or fall flat in our attempts to find a breakthrough.
Although it would appear as though Krzysztof Piatek is set to arrive to replace Gonzalo Higuain, as suggested by Gianluca Di Marzio, signing an in-form striker to add firepower to the side isn’t going to solve the problem if he doesn’t get the necessary service. Suso’s presence was undoubtedly missed.
2] Decisions go against us
From Kessie’s sending off to Blaise Matuidi seemingly escaping a similar punishment, coupled with the controversy surrounding Emre Can’s late challenge on Andrea Conti in the box. Decisions didn’t go our way and debate will undoubtedly rage on over whether or not the wrong ones were made.
Admittedly, Kessie’s challenge was reckless and did appear dangerous, but for the penalty shout on Conti, it’s baffling how VAR didn’t play a fundamental role and why referee Luca Banti didn’t opt to take a second look at it through replays.
Naturally, Juve fans will argue that Can got the ball, but it has to be said that it was pretty clumsy and contact was made, so it seems as though we have every right to feel hard done by as it could have easily gone the other way.
You know what, I’ll even give the red card. Just watch Can in this clip though, he’s already fouled Conti before ball gets to him. I’m baffled. pic.twitter.com/3ErNbM98Lx
— Milan Talk (@MilanTalk1) January 16, 2019
3] Patrick Cutrone showed improvement
With Higuain expected to leave, Cutrone will have a major role to play between now and May regardless of whether or not Piatek or another striker arrives before the end of this month.
The 21-year-old has shown his quality in front of goal as he’s bagged nine goals in 23 appearances in all competitions so far this season while rarely being first choice up front.
Nevertheless, as he continues to mature and develop other areas of his game, his hold up play and ability to link things up as the sole frontman when in possession was very promising. Particularly considering his assignment of going up against Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci alone, the youngster continues to make positive strides.
4] Lucas Paqueta continues to settle well
Gennaro Gattuso has seemingly been left very impressed with how the Brazilian starlet has settled since arriving last week, handing him back-to-back starting berths against Sampdoria and Juventus.
While he is still clearly acclimatising and working on his chemistry with his teammates, Paqueta showed glimpses of his flair and creative quality in midweek, and he’s certainly moving in the right direction.
As he grows into his role and increasingly becomes a more influential figure, it’s hoped that he can become more decisive in the final third and start to chip in with assists and goals sooner rather than later.
Paqueta sending people to the stands pic.twitter.com/lO8Ae2QPIh
— ᴀ. ʜᴀᴡʀᴀᴍɪ (@hawrami23) January 16, 2019
5] Keep an eye on Ricardo Rodriguez
The Swiss international ticks a lot of the right boxes with his experience along with his defensive and attacking attributes.
However, if his performances are put under the microscope, it would surely uncover several flaws in his game including his positioning, general defending against pacy, tricky wingers and his lack of confidence and conviction when attacking.
Diego Laxalt hasn’t set the world alight when given an opportunity in the side, but he does offer urgency, direction and a sense of purpose about him when he does feature, and so it has to be questioned for how long Rodriguez will be assured of a starting spot.