Milan were unable to see off Verona on Sunday as we frustratingly dropped points after being held to a 1-1 draw at San Siro.
The Rossoneri fell behind after Davide Faraoni gave the visitors the lead after 13 minutes, and while Hakan Calhanoglu drew us level before half-time, we couldn’t go on to find a winner.
That was despite Sofyan Amrabat being sent off with over 20 minutes to go, and to add further insult to injury, both Roma and Atalanta dropped points this weekend too as we failed to take advantage to close the gap to fourth place.
Unacceptable slow start
In both halves Milan started poorly. We were flat, lacklustre and lifeless for the most part in the opening 20 minutes or so and that is simply unacceptable regardless of the opposition.
Stefano Pioli should be sending the players out with the bit between their teeth to set the tempo and standard early, to not give sides like Verona the opportunity to settle into the game, cause us problems and put themselves in a position to defend something.
Milan didn’t learn their lesson from the first half which was the most baffling thing, as it took a sending off and a late push before we looked capable of building sustained pressure.
Lack of quality exposed?
While the squad and coach have been praised in recent weeks during our winning run, this level of performance and result will only raise question marks again over the quality in this side.
The midfield was overrun, the front two didn’t offer enough in the final third to cause Verona problems and the full-backs looked vulnerable defensively, and ultimately we got what we deserved in terms of dropping points.
Verona may be just two points behind us in the Serie A standings, but the level of quality we expect from the players wasn’t there and it was a much more even game that it arguably should have been, especially at home.
Bennacer crucial in midfield
Ismael Bennacer was absent through suspension this weekend, and as expected, we missed his presence in the heart of the side significantly.
From his tenacity and work rate off the ball to win the midfield battle to his driving runs forward and ability to move our play up the field quickly with sharp, accurate passes is fundamental, and this game arguably proved it.
Milan shouldn’t have to rely on certain individuals to perform as others must step up, but the midfield was a real problem on Sunday and that can be put down to lacking Bennacer’s quality in that department.
No Ibra, no party
Similarly to Bennacer, this game showed us that we miss Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s presence, leadership and influence in the final third when he’s not involved.
Rafael Leao and Ante Rebic played as if they were strangers for the most part, but in fairness given the lack of time they may have had ahead of this game to work on their understanding and chemistry, it was to be expected.
Nevertheless, more was expected from that duo in this game. Leao continues to offer just bursts of quality with no consistency which isn’t enough, and so it’s clear yet worrying that Ibrahimovic is vital to us not only in terms of what he brings to the team but his influence on others.
To make this result all the more frustrating, it came after Roma slipped up at Sassuolo on Saturday night while Atalanta were held at home by Genoa.
We only have to look back to last season to know just how costly these type of results can be in our pursuit of fourth place, and yet we’re still falling into the same traps and coming unstuck in the same situations.
Pioli must find the solutions with this squad quickly as we simply can’t afford these setbacks moving forward, while we must now step up through the gears for the Derby della Madonnina next Sunday night as if we perform like this again, it’s difficult to see us taking anything from the game.