Friday January 18 2013
Midfield misleading Milan

Milan’s struggles this season have been well documented, but underperforming individuals in midfield have masked a decent collective. Dylan Fahy writes.  

The frontrunners in Spain, Germany and England dominate the top three outfits with the highest pass accuracy in Europe’s best Leagues this season. However, behind respective League-leaders Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester United hover a struggling Milan. The Rossoneri have slumped to seventh in Serie A this term, but have sustained incredible passing exploits behind underperforming individuals.  

Massimiliano Allegri’s side have managed to maintain an 86.3 per cent passing accuracy, with the peninsula’s perceived imperious passers Juventus, Fiorentina and Lazio further behind. On top of their efficiency in distribution, the San Siro residents have the eighth highest average possession on the continent with 58.1 per cent – while only the Bianconeri can claim a higher medium among Italy clubs.

How have Milan stuttered to such an extent this season compared to the sides around them in these statistical tables then? The middle of the park has been a real sticking point for club, and a genuine lack of clinical assist providers has been evident. The exodus of players in the summer has greatly reduced their ability to create, and the remaining batch have simply not been able to live up to previous standards.    

Aside from being the Rossoneri’s top scorer, forward Stephan El Shaarawy has also been the team’s main provider domestically this season with three setups alongside Urby Emanuelson and Robinho. There are an additional four players on two assists, but of those there are two full-backs in Mattia De Sciglio and Ignazio Abate and two attackers in Bojan Krkic and Giampaolo Pazzini

Kevin-Prince Boateng, Antonio Nocerino and Riccardo Montolivo have amassed a single setup each in Serie A throughout the current campaign. The trio have been the spine of the starting lineup, and since Nigel De Jong ruptured his left Achilles tendon before the winter break and captain Massimo Ambrosini was recently dealt a month long layoff they have been practically irreplaceable.

Boateng has largely been employed as trequartista to limited success, and was one of the worst firing midfielders in Europe before finally scoring against Catania – later receiving a straight red card in the same game. Nocerino has lost the spark this campaign, after finishing the club’s second top scorer last term. His mistakes against Bologna, Lazio and Torino have all directly led to goals. Montolivo has been the brightest of the lot, and has showed unexpected leadership qualities, but has otherwise been blunt.

Milan’s headquarters on Via Turati has been rife with activity since the beginning of January. The arrival of Empoli youngster Riccardo Saponara at the end of the season looks to be an excellent move for the future. Speculation surrounding former playmaker Kaka in recent days does not fall in line with the new project, but there is no doubt that something has to be done to spark this team’s midfield to life.     

Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £9.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit:

Have your say...
Burlesconi and galliani are a joke to football. The defence is absolutely useless. I have no idea how long they can cope with such a shambles defence. The midfield is terrible. Pazzini and cash for cassano has to be a inside joke!! The only good players are ses, niang, de ceglio and montolivo. 4 good players in a team that was world class...this milans a joke. Lets hope the two big clowns of Milan leave before we become the Leeds united or Newcastle united of serie A.
on the 26th January, 2013 at 8:21am
lol, funny how a guy writing for such a prestigious side can't really comprehend such tactical issue. Not saying that it's completely all wrong, but assessing that the midfield is that poor is completely random as they actually did well in certain things. Lack of creative assist? yup, perhaps, but just like many already said, in a 4-3-3 formation, your wide attackers also have the responsibility in providing those final pass.
on the 22nd January, 2013 at 4:03pm
Kaka is over the hill and correct me if im wrong Cup tied so he cant play against Barca. As has been mentioned Milan's greatest problem is in the center of Defence Mexes, Yepes and Bonera are Joke footballers.
on the 22nd January, 2013 at 11:29am
The main reason for low assist stats for the midfielders is that the formation and style of the strikers does not lend itself to assists from central midfielders.
If a falcao or cavani was there who played through the centre on the shoulder of last defender looking to get in behind it would be different. But milan this season attack down the wings so its natural the wide attackers and full backs are providing the assists. Montolivo has done well, but boateng has been poor.
on the 20th January, 2013 at 8:00pm
all the criticism of milan during a transition season, and yet going into tonight's game they are now only 4 points behind Inter.
on the 20th January, 2013 at 7:26pm
Last season KPB and Noc punched well above their weight. Unfortunately they are just average players. Flam and Rob are useless. i have no faith in Allegri, he won the title in a season where 2nd place finished on 76 points. At that time Milan had a really good squad. Watching Milan, they dont seem to have a gameplan. They just turn up and sort of 'wing' it. Milan dont have a playmaker, so why does Allegri persist with that system? Hes flogging a dead horse. 442 will allow SES more of the ball
on the 20th January, 2013 at 1:59pm
milan have a bright future.. i like Allegri... baloteli and kaka.. a tight choice.. bt milan also need some besy defenders....
on the 20th January, 2013 at 10:38am
@Gary Cuthbert. making a comment like 'ambrosini was never a good player' will only get people here rightly laughing at you.
on the 20th January, 2013 at 2:44am
The problem is that there is not enough quality in the team , how on earth does Emanuelson even get on the bench as he cant pass , tackle and is a light weight. The biggest problem is there is no natural leader , Ambrosini was never a good player and now is slow , if we start at the back Abbiatti is inconsistant this year , the back four play as 4 strangers and no one takes charge .Into midfield van Bommel is a big miss , although he was never fast etc he was always in the right place and didnt
on the 20th January, 2013 at 12:26am
I hear that Milan are buying Baloteli that will be a disaster Kaka needs to go quick to Milan Don 't buy Baloteli. El Sharrawy is the Best player there.
on the 19th January, 2013 at 9:06pm
MIlan is doing fine!

I know they won't win any trophies this year but they are rebuilding and considering how poor they were at the start, (In my opinion only because the morale was low and the self belief was shattered due to all the greats leaving the club) I can honestly say this Milan squad other than a few players have incredible talent and need to have more self belief.

There is a reason why everyone (other than Roma) has struggled when they played Milan.

Including Juve!
on the 19th January, 2013 at 2:34pm
its all allegris mistakes but it can be solved before barcelona game montolivo should be the center midfielder as pirlo and should move the ball faster and milan should get ogbbonna nd kaka so the team has the chance to win barca and allegri had forgotten about muntari:abbiati abate mexes ogbbonna constant montolivo muntari[nocerino] kevin prince boateng kaka robinho elshaarawy forza milan
on the 19th January, 2013 at 12:03pm
It's a miracle that Milan are doing as well as they are this season. Lost too many quality players and got lucky with the SES sensation. Where would they be if that gamble hadn't have paid off? It is right that earnings are coming down in Italia so it's difficult not to sell and to buy. The thought of paying anyone millions a year is heinous but Kaka 6M is ridiculous.
Berlusconi's ownership means I cannot like Milan, but have a soft spot and would love to see them do one over tiki taka
on the 19th January, 2013 at 10:34am
Our squad is littered with average players that the coach even struggles to get them raising their pathetic game.
on the 19th January, 2013 at 8:25am
Odd statistics. I did think we had a decent amount of possession this season but we move the ball so slowly there's no way we can unlock defences. I really am not sure about Allegri. The starting formation against Sampdoria saw him change the CB pairing again and he seems determined to ruin Niang's career before it's even begun by playing him on the right?? El Shaarawy seemed exhausted against Sampdoria and I don't blame him.Nobody seems to know what Milan's starting line up is including Allegri
on the 19th January, 2013 at 12:12am
Oh Dear! Milan not only do they kaka they aslo need good number two striker, clearly Bojan & Pazini are not shining to sell Casanova was a big mistake, relying on Elsahrawy only that will cost Milan instead of balancing the books.

Forsa Milan!!
on the 18th January, 2013 at 10:08pm
you can pick out the failings of individual players, but at the end of the day football is a team game. as a team, Milan have scored more goals than Lazio and Inter who sit 3rd and 4th. But whilst those two have conceded 19 and 22 respectively, Milan have shipped 27 goals in 20 games. the midfield and attack are not up to start, but the centre of defence is nowhere near the standard expected of a Milan defence. too many mistakes defensively puts additional pressure on the midfield an attack.
on the 18th January, 2013 at 10:06pm
The veteran-exodus isn't complete - How Ambrosini was the one to remain, out of all the experienced layers that whose contracts were running out is a mystery to me. I understand the wish to keep one or two veterans (Yeps in addition) but it would have been better t slash completely, when there was already going to be a revolution. If anything Seedorf and Nesta should have been kept.
on the 18th January, 2013 at 9:13pm
This is a joke of a midfield and team. I hope they fix something before Barca get to hammer their guts.

They need to revamp the whole team, including its technical staff.
on the 18th January, 2013 at 8:41pm
Berlu & Galliani need to start making moves to improve this midfield. Kaka would be a welcome change to a creatively-challenged midfield. What they're lacking coming into the second half of the season, though is a starting CDM, which needs to be addressed immediately if we want to stand a chance against Barca in the CL.
on the 18th January, 2013 at 7:21pm
Milan needs 3 players: CenterBack, attacking Midfielder and centerforward! 3 good players! I think Bojan can play as attacking midfielder.
on the 18th January, 2013 at 7:21pm
We need a CDM badly. Our defense is highly vulnerable yet management is going after Kaka which is a pipe dream in all honesty. Even if he slashes his wages in half its still 6.5 mil a year making him a very expensive, 30 years old, and injury prone player.
on the 18th January, 2013 at 6:34pm
Wow that second paragraph is hard to believe! Just goes to show if your not creating much then all else is pretty much useless. We desperately need a spark in the midfield area and Kaka is the man to do just that.

The return of the prodigal son will be a huge morale boost for everyone at Milano especially the ones that look up to him i.e. SES, Monty, Sap etc. He brings quality, invaluable experience and love for the Red & Black cause! Forzaa Ricky!! Forza Milan!
on the 18th January, 2013 at 6:32pm

You know we've been doing better and better. I dont think CL spot is out of question for Milan. I'm pretty certain that this can be accomplished. SES has to maintain scoring.. and Max have to use Zapata and mexes together if tho i dont like neither of them its a a lot better then Bonera etc. Ambro plays just for the experience added to the team.


de sciglio, mexes, zapata, abate(constant)
Montelivo, De jong(when fit), noccerino, boateng, SES, Bojan
on the 18th January, 2013 at 6:15pm
They need defenders.. Ambrosini is not a quality player. His attemps at passing the ball are terrible. Milan are a better side when him and Bonera don't play.
on the 18th January, 2013 at 5:58pm
on the 18th January, 2013 at 5:56pm
An inspired and motivated Kaka has the potential to do wonders for the midfield in the assist department.

Unfortunately even if the rumored loan move does come true Milan will still have to have an incredible 2nd half of the season to catch the CL spots.
on the 18th January, 2013 at 5:55pm

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.