Week 15: Milan - Napoli (Sunday, December 14th 20:45 CET)
At last we won against one of better teams in Serie A.

Napoli were far from their best attacking-wise, but as far as the defense and even midfield are concerned, this is the best they've got. I'm glad because I was sure at the start of the season, and I'm sure now, that we are a third place team without a doubt.

I don't like to say 'I told you', but this is a part of my post of a thread from almost two months ago:

(09-23-2014, 02:06 PM)Revolver Wrote: Napoli is stronger than Fiorentina IMO, but let's face it, are Albiol or Britos better than, say Zapata? It's a close call. And they are Napoli's best defenders. OK, Hamsik is better than Honda, Higuain is much better than anything that we can provide, Inler is better all around midfielder than any of our midfielders. But, IMO Milan has at least a match for Napoli team, on paper. And in reality, they were expelled from CL quals by Athletic Bilbao! Enough said.

Really, we are putting too much against this squad. Many people here are reacting like this is a Serie A of 10-15 years ago. We see Abate, and think "God, this guy is soo bad". And he is bad really. But the same that "bad" Abate is a starter in NT, and a player like Maggio (among best players in Napoli for years) is the second fiddle.
I'm sure that now, when we've got rid most of worn-out players, and players that were making bad atmosphere on and off the field, we have a squad that can fight with likes of Napoli, Fiorentina, Inter, etc.

The way I see it after last night's game, I ever overestimated Napoli. Big Grin Their defense is even worse. I don't know where they've found this Koulibaly, but last night even Albiol looked at least as bad as Bonera.

As far as our team is concerned, I like how Mexes and Rami worked together in the last couple of games. Mexes has his moments, he seems slower than ever, but hell the guy hardly put together 5 games in a row in years. Diego Lopez was great, and based on the season as a whole, I think he's the best purchase we made in years. Great keeper. Armero wasn't bad. It's obvious that he needs games, he lacks confidence when he has the ball, and he's not nowhere near as quick as he is naturally. His cross for the goal was great. It's good to have a side back that can cross with his left foot. Midfield was very good.
Attack also looked good, but I'm afraid that this system still doesn't get the best of attacking players. If there was Genoa instead of Napoli, or any other team that came to San Siro to defend their goal, we would struggle. Honda looks worse and worse on the side, and we still have issues to use the gaps in the middle that we create with our width. Only for the second goal we witnessed our two midfielders in the box, and that was only for the cross. I think both Boneventura and Honda would feel better if they would play a bit more in the middle, something like Boateng and Robinho played in first two seasons under Allegri. That way they could defend on the sides, but they could attack more centrally, because at the current system they are tied to the sides to much.
(12-15-2014, 02:19 AM)reza Wrote: The win says as much about us than it says about Napoli. However we rate the game today we must remember that we are tied with Napoli now. What I am saying is that the way Bonaventura was marked for the second goal was Bonera quality so based on this game at least we really didn't beat a better team.

Well yes, but we should remember that Napoli have beaten Roma this season, and came away with a point against Inter at the San Siro too. They tend to play their best football against the big clubs, and they are also a team that we have struggled against in recent seasons. It's true they weren't great yesterday, but Milan did look solid. If we had played like we did against Genoa, we would have lost.
It was a good performance, at times excellent, but I also temper that with the fact that Napoli appear to be going through a difficult period and looked really disappointing. To quickly go into their performance, I thought it was really disappointing how little they pressed, particularly as playing with 4-2-3-1 they should have been able to press high up the pitch. They simply didn't pick up the Milan midfield and Jorginho and David Lopez were awful. However, it was just them, as Callejon and especially Mertens who should have been running rings around Bonera were pathetic. As far as defending goes, they simply didn't defend at times, like the Bonaventura goal where he literally ran straight into the box and wasn't picked up once.

As for Milan, the game was good. The 4-3-2-1 worked well, with Poli and Montolivo putting in very disciplined performances and pulling wide to press when necessary. Honda was less good in both phases of the game, not pressing too well and always collecting the ball facing his own defence. Not to say he was bad, he had some really good moments, but overall, I'd consider SES for the system as he can offer more dynamism and runs behind the opposing defence.

Overall the side played a high line for periods and it was during this time that Napoli looked overwhelmed. Both nefremo and I have commented for weeks that this side plays too deep and so it was pleasing to see the team pressing higher and winning the ball quicker. That said, at periods, mostly at the end of each half, the side did drop deep and Napoli did create chances. I don't think this side can defend deep, as it just doesn't cope with pressure well.

The key was really Montolivo and Bonaventura for me though. Montolivo offered real quality from midfield which helped dominate the pitch, while Bonaventura's movement was exceptional. They completely changed the dynamic of the game and it's something Inzaghi should continue to develop.

Inzaghi himself deserves credit for his approach this match, even if his comments post match about Mexes being an emblem of Milan and him essentially copying the system from the game last season leaving me disappointed.


Lopez - Really good game, with no mistakes and some great saves.
Bonera - Pretty solid, which is a rarity. He wasn't challenged much though.
Mexes - His best game this year and very dominant performance.
Rami - The best defender on the pitch until injury. Hopefully it's nothing serious.
Armero - Some really nervous moments and questionable decision making interspersed with better moments. Still not good enough imo.
Poli - Very disciplined and at times showed really great quality, but at others was slack or tried too much. Should have scored in the second half.
De Jong - His positioning is still questionable imo, but he had a decent game.
Montolivo - A great performance in midfield, he dominated the game and showed what's been missed in his absence.
Honda - A mixed game, where at times he was good at holding the ball, but at others less so. Never really did much to hurt Napoli though.
Bonaventura - Probably my man of the match, with great movement and quality on the ball. Deserved goal too.
Menez - Some great individual skill allowed the side to unlock and open up the game. Interlinked with teammates well at times, though he will continue to do great one week and terrible the next.
Great game for the most part.

Let's see if we can keep it up....or if Roma will slap us around.

Agree with Dev completely.
Thanks Warro Smile
Good post Dev...sums up the game perfectly.

I criticized Inzaghi last week, but to give credit where credit is due - he did well today. I do think tha Honda should be dropped perhaps for a game and I like your idea of using SES there. I have always thought that he is best as a support striker that can exchange flanks and sides and not be stuck on the left side the entire game. He is too predictable that way, and although he helps the fullback tremendously, this actually hampers his game. One of his biggest qualities are his runs off the ball and those are really limited if he is stuck on the left. Having freedom to be central and make those runs off of Menez and Bonaventura in this formation for example will make him unpredictable and dangerous.

Menez had a good game, but like you said...the real test for him will be next week. Can he string 2 good performances in a row or is he going to keep being inconsistent going from good one week too terrible the next.

Rami will be a big loss. I hope Zapata can step in and not mess up again.
Playing on the left side for ELS limits him to cutting in and shooting which also becomes very predictable, because lets face it whipping it crosses and making runs hugging the out line to get in the box arent easy for him on the left side being a right footed player. I think Elsha will be able to provide a lot more assists and take more shots on goal by playing on the right. We should try it out
Thanks nefremo.

Regarding SES, it really dependson him imo. He's got the qualities to really help this attack improve, more than Honda in many ways imo Honda won't be around for a while in the next couple of months, so he should surely have his chance.