The eight-date of Serie A had a very interesting duel for tactical analysis. AC Milan and Lecce met in a match that left very attractive elements from the tactics and strategy of both coaches. It was also Milan’s first match under Stefano Pioli. That means that Milan had several changes in their tactics that are important to analyse. Lecce, for their part, worked the match to get a good result and achieved it. The match offered several important points not to overlook.

This is why the following tactical analysis will show us how and why Milan wasn’t able to beat Lecce. Mila tactics couldn’t surpass Lecce’s tactics, although Milan showed new and interesting things. The analysis left interesting things to delve into in the tie between Milan and Lecce. In addition, the tactical analysis will be based on the tactics of both teams and what the coaches’ proposals were. For now, both teams will try to get out of the lower positions of the table as the matches pass.

Lineups

Serie A 2019/20: Milan vs Lecce – tactical analysis tactics
Taken from Wyscout.

Milan’s first match under Stefano Pioli brought several changes in the starting line-up. Although the scheme remained the same, Pioli introduced some new names. Milan switched to a 4-1-4-1 system as a base, which became 4-2-3-1 at times or 4-3-3. Always depending on the context of the game. In addition, a central striker and two wingers. The roles of some players changed, which made Milan look different in tactics.

The first thing that gave us the tactical analysis was the changes made by Pioli. Andrea Conti entered as a right-back in place of Davide Calabria. Mateo Mussachio entered as a centre-back in place of Leo Duarte. Lucas Paquetá entered to play as interior midfielder with Franck Kessié. Hakan Çalhanoğlu played as a left-winger in the place of Giacomo Bonaventura. In addition, Rafael Leão played as the central striker in place of Krzysztof Piątek.

On the other hand, Fabio Liverani also made several changes and entered several players instead of others. The tactical analysis showed that the scheme remained the same and as the matches have gone by this has not changed. Liverani still uses the 4-3-3 system, although, in theory, it looks more like a 4-3-1-2. This is because Marco Mancuso plays quite freely in midfield. In addition, he is in charge of the ideas to generate attacks.

Liverani made four changes to the last game. Biagio Meccariello came in as right-back in place of Andrea Rispoli. But the most curious thing about Liverani’s tactics were the changes in midfield. Panagiotis Tachtsidis came in for Jacopo Petriccione as an interior midfielder. Andrea Tabanelli took Gianelli Imbula’s place as a defensive midfielder. Khouma El Babacar also came in for Andrea La Mantia as a striker.

Milan’s tactics under Pioli

The main characteristics observed in the first match led by Pioli were intensity and mobility. The tactics of the new coach showed that Milan is a team that can vary and has players able to do so.

When Milan had possession of the ball the idea was clear: to play from a succession of passes. The triangulations of players with different roles were evident. The first variant on tactics was Theo Hernandez’s movement. The Spanish player was moving forward to form a second line of four midfielders. This caused Kessié to retreat to play close to Lucas Biglia and form a 3-2-4-1 scheme.

Serie A 2019/20: Milan vs Lecce – tactical analysis tactics
Milan in several moments of the match played with a line of three players as centre-backs. The main move Pioli made in that sense was to give more freedom to Theo Hernández as left-back. Hernandez played practically winger. In addition, Kessié and Biglia played in the front row of midfielders. There we can see a 3-2-4-1 formation based on Pioli’s tactics.

Milan, moreover, changed quickly without possession of the ball. The transition from attack to defence was done effectively. In this sense, Theo returned to his full-back position and Kessié to his midfield position. Biglia was the only defensive midfielder and stood between the lines for cover.

Serie A 2019/20: Milan vs Lecce – tactical analysis tactics
Milan using a 4-1-4-1 line-up. The tactical analysis showed that Milan really used that system without the ball. With the possession of the ball, the mobility of the players made the system change constantly. The only one that does not appear in the image is Rafael Leão, who was the only frontman.

In addition, Pioli ordered several functions to Kessié, who will be an important player this season. The Ivorian was placed during several moments of the match in Theo’s natural position. In other words, Kessié occupied the full-back space for Theo to be free to go several metres ahead. Pioli’s idea of tactics was that his team would never lose amplitude.

Serie A 2019/20: Milan vs Lecce – tactical analysis tactics
Another important role was that of Kessié, who acted as defensive midfielder and left-back. In this case, we observed him positioned as left-back. The idea was that he would occupy that space so that Theo would have the freedom to attack and play several meters ahead.

When Milan had possession of the ball Kessié and Biglia were trying to generate pass options through the internal lanes. While Theo and Conti were on the same line as the two defensive midfielders to generate pass options in the outer lanes.

Serie A 2019/20: Milan vs Lecce – tactical analysis tactics
Another element of tactical analysis was Milan’s position on the pitch. Pioli’s idea was for the team to play more forward than in previous games. That’s why the full-backs went ahead to form a line with the defensive midfielders.

Milan changed in intensity at the moment of recovering the ball. That was something that was evidenced in these new tactics from Pioli. Milan pressure in a mixed way, because they pressed man for man as well as zonally. In the tactical analysis, we could see how some Milan players closed down the possible receiver of the ball. While other players pressed to cover a pass line.

Serie A 2019/20: Milan vs Lecce – tactical analysis tactics
Milan’s pressure was intense and dynamic. In this case, we observe how the Milan players are pressuring the Lecce players to make them uncomfortable when taking a pass or receiving a pass from a teammate.

Lecce’s rigid system

The team led by Liverani has tried to secure a system during Serie A 2019/20. Again Lecce played with their 4-3-3 system, which is already a registered trademark of this team. Although the idea is for Mancuso to play free, this becomes impossible due to conservative tactics. This means that the attacking midfielder in charge of generating goal opportunities must be more concerned about defending tactics.

Serie A 2019/20: Milan vs Lecce – tactical analysis tactics
The Lecce system was based on a 4-3-3 formation. We have seen this system in several previous tactical analyses, as Lecce has not changed since the inception of Series A. The main characteristic of Lecce is the rigidity with which it uses this system because it never changes depending on the context of the match.

One of the main features in Liverani’s tactics is the idea of Lecce playing in a compact way. In other words, not too much distance between the lines. This serves to generate numerical superiority and force the opposing team to meet a lot of players in front. Milan fell into that trap at times and couldn’t use the width of the pitch. The midfield was very dense, as the 10 Lecce players played at a very short distance between them.

Serie A 2019/20: Milan vs Lecce – tactical analysis tactics
Liverani bases his ideas and tactics on a compact team with short distances between lines. In this image, we can see how the whole Lecce team is piled up at a distance of no more than 40 metres.

In addition, Lecce always tried to surround possible pass receptors in the midfield. Milan’s interior and attacking midfielders found themselves in numerical inferiority during many game passages. Liverani’s tactics were clear: midfielders and strikers playing very close together.

Serie A 2019/20: Milan vs Lecce – tactical analysis tactics
The short distance between midfielders and forwards was key during several passages of the match. This resulted in a team of six players, who generated numerical superiority in midfield. They also caused Milan’s advances to crumble there.

Perhaps Lecce’s main problem was the generation of plays from the back of the pitch. For Lecce, it was very difficult to start their attack with passes from the centre-backs. Milan’s pressure on Lecce’s midfielders was very intense and staggered. In addition, it was difficult for Lecce to use the wings through the full-backs, as the team’s play was always using internal lanes.

Serie A 2019/20: Milan vs Lecce – tactical analysis tactics
Lecce tried to generate amplitude with the full-backs when he had possession of the ball. Being a team that is not used to using the width of the pitch this was risky. The distance between the centre-backs was very large and the ball losses there caused more danger than normal.

Unlike the pressure exerted by Milan, Lecce’s pressure was based on space. Previous tactical analyses also showed this way of pressing. Lecce doesn’t usually put pressure on the player who has the ball, but on the space. This type of pressing causes the Lecce players to block the passing lines to the player carrying the ball. That is to say, it practically forces the rival team to make passes towards the sides.

Serie A 2019/20: Milan vs Lecce – tactical analysis tactics
The tactical analysis also showed that Liverani’s order was to press into space. In this image, we can see the three strikers pressing to try to cover the possible passing lines towards the midfielders.

Conclusion

The tactical analysis showed that Milan changed some elements in their tactics under Pioli’s command. Despite playing well at times the team still looks very weak in some aspects. Pioli will have to work hard to make Milan look more solid in several of their tactical facets both defensive and offensive. Milan will play away to Roma on the next Serie A date, which will be a tough game. A good result against Roma can be a before and after for Milan.

On the other hand, Lecce still lacks many elements to compete in Serie A. The pace of Liverani’s side this season has been very poor so far. Although only nine games have gone by, Lecce is just one point away from the relegation zone. Liverani will need to start making some changes and show variations on tactics. This will be key to avoid so many problems at the end of the season. On the next matchday, Lecce will face Juventus at home.


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Juan Ricardo Arenas Amaya

Writer at Ronnie Dog Media
From Bucaramanga, Colombia. Fan of Atlético Bucaramanga. 26 years old. Football as a lifestyle.
Juan Ricardo Arenas Amaya