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Wednesday February 27 2019
Coppa Italia dissatisfaction

You could say neither side, and yet possibly both, was satisfied with the Coppa Italia semi-final draw between Lazio and Milan, writes Sam Wilson.

Lazio and Milan played out their third consecutive goalless Coppa Italia semi-final match, so it all goes down to the second leg at San Siro, but who comes out of this feeling more positive about their chances? It’s hard to say.

The Biancocelesti went in during an injury crisis that almost has them use Lucas Leiva at centre-back. This would’ve meant either having the Brazilian one-on-one with on-form Krzysztof Piatek or the unthinkable scenario of Simone Inzaghi moving to four at the back. The Coach preferred to start Bastos on one leg, forgive Patric for last week’s substitution tantrum and hope for the best. Surprisingly, it worked like a dream.

Piatek had scored in every start for the Rossoneri, but was reduced to one shot on target, deflected wide by Bastos.

Lazio, from the very start of the game, played with a lot of aggression and intent, pressing Milan relentlessly. By attacking the game, rather than sitting back and letting them keep possession, Lazio gave their opponents less time to think and plan offensive moves, leading to a lot of rushed final ball attempts from the Diavolo. Piatek was therefore starved of service, Milan having to launch long balls down the field and playing aimless through passes because Inzaghi’s side were just not giving them the time they wanted on the ball.

In the second half, the service for Piatek was better, but aggressive defending and pressure from the likes of Bastos, who had a surprisingly good game, and Francesco Acerbi meant that the Pole’s chances were few and far between.

Lazio can thank good fortune in some regard, too. When Franck Kessie came off with a muscular injury in the first half, Hakan Calhanoglu came on. Kessie was looking like one of Milan’s best players and has been instrumental in the midfield under the side’s recent resurgence. Calhanoglu, however, seemed pre-occupied in his thoughts, his wife currently expecting to go into labour at any moment, the Turk misplacing passes throughout the match and not providing Piatek with the balls that he needed.

Lucas Paqueta, although he was Milan’s best player on the night and surprisingly impressive when tracking back to defend, was also being closed down promptly and it was this lack of time on the ball for Gattuso’s midfielders and wingers that ended up neutralising Piatek.

Lazio’s approach to the game from kick-off minimised the opportunities granted to Milan’s €35m signing, whilst good fortune and some unexpectedly stellar defending made matters even easier. Despite this, the semi-final is made up of two legs and, if Lazio really want to silence the critics, they will need to do the same at San Siro.

In Milan, the Rossoneri can be expected to have much more of the ball and, therefore, Inzaghi may have to find another approach to prevent Piatek from doing what he does best. That won’t include moving to four at the back, of course. Not on Inzaghi’s watch.

Ultimately, who is the more content from this 0-0 result? If Lazio were going to draw the home leg, keeping a clean sheet was the ideal scenario, yet once again they wasted so many scoring opportunities and after the Europa League exit to Sevilla it’s become more than merely frustrating. This cannot be just down to bad luck when the pattern keeps repeating itself.

Milan emerged from the Stadio Olimpico unbeaten, but without the possibility of a precious away goal and seeing their excellent recent form stunted. After moving so close to Inter in third place and with Roma still breathing down their necks, the draw of qualifying for the Champions League is far stronger than a second consecutive Coppa Italia Final.

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Have your say...
Milan will sell Piatek in the summer. it will take one big money offer and Milan will sell him.
Cutrone will get his time.
For the first time in a while I agree with something of that essay 'Maldini heir' has written in that Milan will use players they have invested money in to bring to the club.
Think the long and short of this is Milan need to stop buying players and utilise what we have but that is near impossible when a we are unable to hold quality players and resist a big offer.
on the 2nd March, 2019 at 4:20pm
As to sunk cost fallacy: This or something like this has been an AC Milan problem for 30 years. The academy has produced great players that were inexplicably let go only to become viable elsewhere. World class? Maybe not, but there hasn't been a product like that since Maldini. Gigio is possibly the next at that level. We'll know in the next couple of years. But what about "just" good starters/squad players? Astori (RIP), Locatelli, Aubameyang, to name a few. There are many others...
on the 1st March, 2019 at 2:42pm
@Maldini's Heir: Good post on Cutrone. I agree with you. However, whether Cutrone stays or goes is more dependant on Cutrone than Milan. He's still coming into games at the 70-75th minute. Paitek undoubtedly deserves to start. Yes, his X factor is way above that of Cutrone. But is 20-15 min p/game enough for Cutrone? 20 years ago players such as Massaro and Solksjaer were happy being super-subs. Not so now. Cutrone wants to start. He believes he's as good as Piatek. Eventually, he'll leave.
on the 1st March, 2019 at 2:36pm
@Maldini's Heir Im with you 100% percent on Cutrone. I have been worried about us not giving faith and pushing him away since the arrival of Kallinic
on the 1st March, 2019 at 7:42am
Solskjær at Milan or even Marco Simone or Massaro at Milan. But he can only do that if he remains our first choice sub. I do not want to hear about Milan signing another striker for another 5 years. We have two young strikers who can do the job. Can we please just focus on signing someone with a bit of pace on the LW and leave it at that. This squad is capable of winning titles. If it is left alone. Leonardo should take a holiday for a while. He can benefit from his own sunk cost fallacy.
on the 1st March, 2019 at 1:20am
in something the harder it becomes to abandon it. This is the reason why football clubs give fewer chances to a free asset i.e. a youth team player than an expensive flop. It's because Borini, Kalinic, Silva, Calhanoğlu etc cost money that they're given more chances than Cutrone. I am more than happy with the signing of Piątek but I just hope that Milan treat Cutrone fairly and don't force him out. From his perspective there's no reason why he can't have as good a career as someone like
on the 1st March, 2019 at 1:17am
third. In contrast Cutrone is not just about goals. He has 8 assists in his senior career (note he's scored 43 goals in 67 for the Milan primavera). He can play out on the left. it's not ideal but he works as hard as Borini and is probably more natural than Çalhanoğlu. So what gives? Oh yes, the double and triple standards. There is a phenomenon known as the sunk cost fallacy. It says that decisions are tainted by the emotional investments a person accumulates, and the more a person invests
on the 1st March, 2019 at 1:13am
we have a player who is simply not good enough for Serie A let alone Milan. I usually don't buy into the idea that this player is super world class and this player is the worst in history. Most of the players in Serie A are in the top 1% of footballers on the planet. But Borini is a player who is very close to not being in the 1%. Particularly where truly quality is really needed in the final third.Does anybody really believe Borini is going to do anything when the ball comes to him in the final
on the 1st March, 2019 at 1:08am
His goals to minutes ratio isn't too bad this season averaging a goal every 155 minutes which is better than 1:2 ratio (which across a season of 50 games would get him 25+ goals). The thing that grates the most is the double and triple standards applied to the likes of Çalhanoğlu and Borini. Neither have been as good as Cutrone this season or previous seasons but were still backed by the coach. The same happened last season when Kalinic was given chance after chance. In the case of Borini
on the 1st March, 2019 at 1:03am
Cutrone seems to be getting a little impatient. I don't blame him. He overcame three seperate barriers (Kalinic, Silva and Higuain) and Milan still didn't show faith in him. He seems to have met his match with Piątek. Nobody can dispute his signing given his goal record and he seems to really have the X factor that perhaps Cutrone is missing. Who knows? Maybe if Cutrone had started 19/19 Serie A games for Milan in the first 1/2 of the season AND been given service he would've hit similar numbers
on the 1st March, 2019 at 12:58am
I think it was a great game.
Milan were amazing from start to finish. Lazio were lucky that Milan didn't 'want' to win the game, because if they did want to win they would have easily won 3 maybe even 4-0!
Is that biased or am I dreaming like our dear friend Viktor?
on the 28th February, 2019 at 9:01pm
@viktor: I watched this game and agree with HK and the article. Lazio should have had at least one goal, maybe two. They were very wasteful. Milan could not do much going forward and obviously suffered with their high pressing. But you said, you can't win every game. Ideally it would have been nice to score, even in a 2-1 loss. Lazio is dangerous and a scoring draw, something that I think is very possible in the second leg, will see them through.
on the 28th February, 2019 at 4:43pm
@Microslav

Milan were satisfied with a draw considering how great they have been doing so far in 2019.

Its not fantasy football buddy, you have to approach games defensively sometimes.
on the 28th February, 2019 at 2:48pm
@HK

" Lazio created enough to win with a comfortable result".

Interesting as the game ended 0-0 and Lazio never really looked dangerous neither did Milan.. dominating the game throughout is exaggerating. But I guess we are all biased sometimes.
on the 28th February, 2019 at 2:47pm
I would not call this a fair result, Lazio deserved more given the chances and domination during the entire game.
However, if you dont score you cant win and I agree with the writer that Lazios inability to score is more than bad luck.
This text makes you think that Lazio spent 90 minutes closing down Milan. That could, I suppose, be one way to describe it. For me this was a game where Lazio created enough to win with a comfortable result.
on the 28th February, 2019 at 9:32am
What an awful game to watch!!!!!!

Milan had a shameful approach to this game not even trying to play football at all. Once in attack at the opponents penalty box they played the ball back to donnarumma instead of just trying to score. I‘m disgusted by this approach.

Lazio at least tried but were not good enough.

This game was all the worst about italian football all in one match.

Good advertisement for every other sport though. Even curling has more action....
on the 27th February, 2019 at 6:33pm
Fair result for both parties. Every thing to play for in the return leg. Forza Milan!!!
on the 27th February, 2019 at 11:06am

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