Friday November 6 2020
Milan must reflect on defeat

After having their 24-match unbeaten run snapped and being dealt their worst home European defeat in club history, Matthew Santangelo believes Stefano Pioli and his Milan must reflect and show resolve.

Off the back of Zlatan Ibrahimović’s late-game heroics securing the 2-1 victory over Udinese last Sunday, Milan’s effort to extend their magical unbeaten run Thursday at home against came to a screeching halt in the UEFA Europa League as Lille throttled the Italians 0-3.

Stefano Pioli fielded a strong enough XI to certainly keep momentum atop Group H, once again using the opportunity to rotate without compromising on the goal of victory. Yet, it wasn’t   entirely the selection which did the Rossoneri in. Simply put, this beating on behalf of the  French side was somewhat inevitable to a degree, a culmination of what a condensed  schedule, Covid-19 and the natural exhaustion of playing three matches in a span of a week can bring to any squad.

Theo Hernandez, who had risen to the top last season as a phenomenal attacking left-back, lacked a step and that energy to burn bursting forward we have grown accustomed to seeing.

For captain Alessio Romagnoli, his recent return from injury has highlighted a distinct lack of fitness, something which has led to the Italian international unable to establish strong defensive positions and avoid the detrimental mistakes leading to goals.

Since 2020 began, Franck Kessie has certainly come to realize the potential Milan invested heavily, growing into a key man in the double pivot armoring the defense with Ismaël Bennacer. Though he is arguably the club’s reliable midfield as far as availability and putting in a full 90 each matchday, the Ivorian experienced noticeable struggles throughout the match to keep pace with Renato Sanches and Xeka who early and often showed a desire to elevate the tempo.

As a collective though, it was quite clear that the current Serie A leaders ran out of gas. Regardless, all credit must be given to Christophe Galtier and Les Dogues.

Energetic, lively in possession to bring the game to the home side and completed unfazed by Milan and their scorching run, Lille are positioned second in Ligue 1 for a reason.

Intransition,JonathanBambawasoftenquicktobreakforwardandbeattheheartofLille’s counter-attacking play, with Yusuf Yazici becoming the prime beneficiary by bagging an impressivehat-trick-becomingthefirstplayerinhistoryofmajorUEFAEuropeancompetition to score two away in a singlecampaign.

Lille rightfully earned the win in the “Elliott Derby,” as some are labeling it, but now this is a moment for reflection for Milan.

Prior to the defeat, Pioli’s side had not experienced defeat in 242 days, their last being the loss to Genoa prior to stoppage of the previous campaign. The importance of meeting the domestic objective of finishing top four exceeds what Milan set out to accomplish in European play, so obviously it is not all doom and gloom for the league leaders.

The response given on the weekend against a well-coached, structured and defensively- organized Verona will be vital to test the character, mentality and resolve of this Milan when humbled in defeat. From there, the international break can allow for a reset and recharging of the batteries before a pivotal fixture against Napoli - another measure of the strength of the red and black in the chase for a return to Europe’s mainstage.


Have your say...

Yeah, apologies for not making it clear, when I said mediocre it was referring to our form before the pandemic, which was pointed out correctly by Vero. It does seem like ages ago that we lost to Atalanta 0-5... hard to believe that it was during the same season that we started our impressive undefeated streak.
on the 10th November, 2020 at 11:20am
@Viktor: By "back to mediocre" Bunga probably means "does the loss burst the bubble" and cause us to fall back into our pre-pandemic form.

The Verona game is a perfect recovery game because we play a very good side with a good coach at home, but isn't quite a top of the table clash. So it's a big game, but very winnable.
on the 8th November, 2020 at 2:40pm
@Bunga2 "do we play like wounded animal or we are back into being mediocre?" We top of the league and lost once since march.. how is that mediocre...
on the 8th November, 2020 at 8:09am
First of all, we can't stay undefeated forever. I like the fact that Pioli kept insisting that the bad result will come, even when we're winning. Now that it's here, let's see how they react. Of course Pioli did well initially at Inter and Fiorentina (or was it Lazio?) before slumping on winless streak. So let's see how he does this time.

Ibra show the right attitude and anger. The next match vs Verona would be key, do we play like wounded animal or we are back into being mediocre?
on the 7th November, 2020 at 5:29pm
A bit disappointed with Tonali. Being an admirer of Gattuso, he needs to be much more aggressive. While I don't expect to have unlimited stamina as Gattuso, he should at least be more aggressive and that includes committing tactical fouls too.
on the 7th November, 2020 at 1:05pm
First loose since march, so need to panic.

Do not play Krunic that's is. Leave Castillejo out as much as possible as well.
on the 7th November, 2020 at 8:52am
Agree with Baggio and ACM1899. This was the right game for a loss. We're still well positioned in the EL and not losing points in Serie A. Lets see how they respond this weekend.
on the 7th November, 2020 at 1:04am
To me it seems troubling that they were honestly just outplayed badly. The players on the pitch can't be blamed if they were tired. It falls on the coach then to read the game and be able to make the right adjustments to prevent such a defeat and if he doesn't have the right players for substitutions or the right tactics to prevent such a loss then yes more questions need to be asked of Pioli and Milan mgmt if they really want to compete in compeitions beyond Serie A.
on the 6th November, 2020 at 9:07pm
All credit to Lille. At times it was like Superman x11 Vs 11 headless chickens! it was one of those nights for Milan. Awful. With no accuracy & a defence that was truly all over shop. Even when they did rally a bit they had no bite! Leao & Dalot couldn't hit a barn door! Kessie, Samu & Theo were out for an evening stroll & those first 2 goals were gifts. Once Lille's tails were up it could've been even worse. Kjaer, Bennacer & Hauge did at least try. It will be a valuable experience for them!
on the 6th November, 2020 at 8:51pm
This is Pioli's first real test in how he refocuses this young group. The beating should serve as a learning experience and luckily came at a non critical point in either campaign luckily. But Milan must regroup quickly and put in a better effort against Verona. There is no need for the Panic button yet. Ibra's anger should serve as additional motivation for the younger players. Exhaustion is a factor, but Milan had depth on the bench so there should be enough rested players. Gotta do better!
on the 6th November, 2020 at 6:31pm
I for one am happy about this defeat. It was the right game for it to happen (qualification still possible) & it will remind Milan of where/what level they are and still to achieve.

They weren't as abysmal as the score would suggest. But Lille, were simply on form. fast, strong and accurate in front of goal + confidence. Italians are not fast as well as strong. Italians teams seem to have slimmer players than the decades ago when Canavero, Baresi & Baggio had absolute tree trunks for legs
on the 6th November, 2020 at 6:31pm

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