Whether a full blown crisis or not the season is likely at a crossroads. Winless in four games in all competitions with zero goals from open play is not what many expected just weeks ago. There has been a downturn in form and points picked up in the last month or two but the regression has accelerated and Milan have ceded first place to an in form Inter.
Romagnoli’s sometimes shocking and often poor defending has led to questions not often asked about captains. The armband has of course made the issue more sensitive. His lack of pace and stand offish ‘marking’ has been deeply exposed and it is not only against physical and big attackers like Romelu Lukaku either. The rest of the defensive line have of course regressed as well as has the shape of the team when the opposition brings the ball to Milan. Kessie has been overused and while still standing tall can not be not tired. Bennacer’s injuries haven’t helped and without him something is lost in the good use of the ball when Milan regains possession. Leao and Rebic have been nominally useless versus recent opposition, opposition that has included beatable teams like Red Star Belgrade. Tonali is hard to make a judgement on, the young Italian seems to be progressing but doesn’t seem to be comfortable in a double pivot with sometimes dual offensive and defensive roles.
So what can be done besides motivation to get a much talked about response? Pioli claims the issue is tactical and not physical exhaustion but the coach hasn’t done enough to tweak or adjust. In fact a case can be made that Pioli is exhibiting a, common in coaches, stubborn trait. One such change would be dropping the captain the captain in favour of Tomori, these calls may or may not be heeded for this match at Roma but the other 10 players must step up as well. Leao more active on the pitch, Rebic better control of the ball, Hakan more intelligent ball choices are just three seemingly obvious other improvements that must occur.
Elsewhere on the pitch Ibra hasn’t had much to work with and hasn’t seen that much of the ball but his concentration must remain on the task at hand. Theo has been getting many minutes and has lost a step or two of his now famous electric pace. If the left back finds it again Milan’s chances of retaining a near top spot will be that much better.
Roma sit five points behind Milan and have an injury list that includes Edin Dzeko. The capital team have fared better than Milan recently but are not a model of consistency.
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