Milan salvaged a 2-2 draw at SPAL on Wednesday night as they fought back to secure a share of the spoils, but the game could, and should, have been put to bed comfortably.
Off the back of consecutive wins in Serie A since the restart and with a crunch clash with Lazio coming up this weekend with Juventus and Napoli to follow, this was a crucial game in itself.
Unfortunately for the Rossoneri, we couldn’t secure all three points and given the opposition and the way in which the game played out, this will undoubtedly be seen as two points dropped in bitterly disappointing fashion.
Simply not good enough
SPAL were bottom of the table ahead of kick-off with 18 points from 28 games so far this season. They’d scored just 21 goals and had conceded 48. This game was there for the taking.
Unfortunately for us, we made a mess of it by conceding a sloppy early goal and then ultimately credit must be given to Sergio Floccari for his superb strike to double their lead.
From the minute that SPAL went down to 10 men though, Milan were on top and laying siege to their goal and yet we simply didn’t show enough quality in the final third to make it a comfortable win and given the points noted above, that was simply not good enough.
Wasteful attack costs us
29 attempts on goal, nine of which were on target, with 10 further shots blocked. 17 corners, 66 percent of possession and playing against 10 men for 51 minutes in the second half.
Wave after wave of attack and Milan still couldn’t put an average side to the sword, as it took a late own goal to secure a point.
From the countless efforts from distance to reverting to getting it out wide and lofting balls into the box late on, we didn’t show enough guile, intelligence and decisiveness in attack throughout the game and while fingers can be pointed at Stefano Pioli for this result as he’s the man in charge, this one is surely on the players as they lacked any sort of clinical edge to their play despite the numerous chances created.
Paqueta bright spot
While Lucas Paqueta can be criticised for the same issues as the rest of the side given he had multiple efforts on goal and couldn’t find the back of the net, this was a positive performance from the Brazilian on his return to the starting line-up.
He found pockets of space between the midfield and defence regularly, showed some flair and skill and was a constant threat. That said, he should have got on the scoresheet, and that remains his biggest downfall as he has to be more decisive.
Nevertheless, it was a good display and something he can now build on but ultimately if he doesn’t add that final piece in the final third, there is still going to be frustration aimed towards him.
Since the restart, Theo Hernandez has been worryingly quiet. He’s lacking the explosiveness down the left flank that made him such a pivotal part of our attack prior to the lockdown, and so he’s struggling to have the same level of influence in recent weeks.
It could be that he isn’t fully fit as it certainly looks that way when watching his performance, while he was taken off in the second half at a time when we were still chasing the game.
Given how influential he was previously, it’s hoped that he can rediscover that form in the coming weeks as a fully fit, firing on all cylinders Hernandez is a real problem for our opponents.
Saelemaekers better at right-back
After making a positive impact off the bench against Roma at the weekend, Alexis Saelemaekers repeated the trick in midweek as he put in another solid shift for the team.
His energy and desire were key down the right flank, although it could be argued that he is perhaps better suited to playing as a right-back rather than in a more advanced position.
The Belgian ace was off the mark with some of his crossing in the first half, but he looked more comfortable and impactful when bursting forward from right-back and it was his first-time delivery which ultimately led to forcing the own goal and securing a point for Milan.
Pushing Andrea Conti and Davide Calabria for a starting spot at right-back is surely the best way forward for him.