Milan slipped to a frustrating 2-1 defeat to Genoa at an empty San Siro on Sunday afternoon, as a troubling week on and off the pitch comes to an end.
With the management spat continuing through to Sunday as former club chief Zvonimir Boban slammed the decision to axe him, as per La Gazzetta dello Sport, it didn’t get much better on the field.
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While Milan toiled in front of goal, Genoa were clinical with the two chances that they carved out in the first half, and the damage was done by the interval.
As we now risk slipping further adrift of fourth spot, it looks as though it could be a long end to the campaign as we await further changes in the summer.
Empty San Siro, lonely Gazidis
There were already difficult conditions before the game even started as the stadium was closed off to the public amid the coronavirus outbreak, while the management mess noted above ensured it was just CEO Ivan Gazidis in attendance, as seen in the image below.
That arguably made it tough for the players no matter how much they tried to block it out and focus on the game, and particularly late on as we were chasing the game, there were a few individuals who seemed to be struggling to keep up the tempo.
Unfortunately both issues seem set to rumble on in the coming weeks, and so it remains to be seen what kind of reaction Stefano Pioli can get out of the players next weekend.
Good week then, Ivan?! pic.twitter.com/71n3FwDFv7
— Milan Talk (@MilanTalk1) March 8, 2020
Theo Hernandez must defend better
For all the positives that Hernandez provides going forward, his defending simply wasn’t good enough on Sunday as both of Genoa’s goals came from our left flank.
Particularly for the first goal, the 22-year-old was far too passive and was shrugged off the ball with ease as he was left behind and the resulting cross was converted.
The rest of the backline deserves criticism too for not snuffing out the danger once those deliveries went into the box, but Hernandez’s defending was a key weakness this weekend and left us exposed.
Woeful finishing costs us
Milan had 13 shots, four of which were on target, while we had 55% of possession. Our build-up play was certainly easy on the eye at times, but with no clinical edge to convert those chances, we shot ourselves in the foot in the opening 45 minutes as the game should have been over.
There was a good tempo to our play and we created several good opportunities to score, but if you don’t put them in the back of the net, you leave yourself vulnerable to being turned over just as we were.
We’ve now scored just four goals in our last four games, while we’ve bagged 28 in 26 league games so far this season to give us the lowest tally of the top 13 sides in the standings. It’s simply not good enough.
Ibra not enough
While he’ll get plaudits for his goal and his desire to try and make something happen, there were a lot of negatives in Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s performance too.
His passes were often off target, he tried several speculative efforts at goal which were nowhere near and his demeanour on the pitch was questionable with plenty of arm waving, sharp staring and complaining.
The 38-year-old has proven his pedigree and he’s operated at a level above most during a successful career. However, this is a different time and a different scenario, and there is only so much he can do as we need to lean on him less so he doesn’t have to try those desperate attempts, while he needs to be better in key situations if he’s going to maintain his influence.
There was another big miss from him in the first half, and neither he nor the team as a whole can afford to see those go by without a goal.
Stick with Gabbia
He’ll be disappointed that he didn’t do better to prevent both goals, but the blame lies across the backline as they were poor goals to concede.
With our campaign seemingly slipping away as it’ll be difficult to close the gap on fourth place, the management and Pioli need to identify which players are going to be key in the long term and allow them to develop with experience and playing time this season.
The argument in favour of either Simon Kjaer or Mateo Musacchio starting ahead of Matteo Gabbia is surely a thin one, and so it would be good to see him remain in the line-up and continue to prove that he can produce at this level on a consistent basis.