The eleventh matchday in Serie A had a very interesting duel for tactical analysis. AC Milan and Lazio met in a match that had very attractive elements from the tactics and strategies of both coaches. Milan did not improve and continued to have many tactical and strategic problems. Lazio, for their part, worked to get a good result and achieved it.
This is why the following tactical analysis will show us how and why Milan weren’t able to beat Lazio. Milan’s tactics couldn’t surpass Lazio’s which proved to be superior and more intelligent, and the analysis left interesting things to delve into in the tie. For now, both teams live a very different present.
Milan continued to make changes in the starting lineup since the arrival of Stefano Pioli as their head coach. 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 under Pioli’s idea, depending on the context of the game. In addition, his team played around a central striker and two wingers. The roles of some players have changed since Pioli took charge of the team, which is why Milan have looked different in some tactics but still lack solidity.
Davide Calabria entered as a right-back in place of Leo Duarte who replaced Mateo Mussachio. Rade Krunić played as a midfielder with Lucas Paquetá. It is surprising that Franck Kessié has been left out of the starting line-up after being an undisputed starter with Pioli, but in this match, he was a substitute.
On the other hand, Simone Inzaghi also made several changes and brought in several players instead of others. Inzaghi still uses the 3-5-2 system, although in theory, it looks more like a 3-5-1-1. The distribution of the Lazio players is very clear under the command of Inzaghi.
Inzaghi made four changes to the squad from last game. Bastos came in as one of the three centre-backs in place of Patric. But the most curious thing about Inzaghi’s tactics were the changes in midfield. Manuel Lazzari replaced Adam Marusic as an exterior midfielder on the right. Lucas Leiva took Danilo Cataldi’s place as a defensive midfielder. Joaquín Correa also came in for Felipe Caicedo as a striker.
Milan’s tactical changes
Milan’s first idea in the match was to generate mistakes in Lazio’s game. For that, the two wingers, the forward, and some of the midfielders tried to form a kind of square. The purpose of this square or rhombus was to surround Lucas Leiva. That is to say, it was to not let the player think or make any plays, as he was the player of Lazio in charge of being the axis of the team directed by Inzaghi.
One of the new tactics that Milan showed in this match was the change of formation without possession of the ball. When Milan did not have the ball they changed their shape to a 5-3-2. Pioli’s idea with this was to occupy more space to the width of the pitch, as it was one of the strengths of Lazio. The player in charge of making the backline of five players was Rade Krunić, who was positioned in the middle of the centre-backs.
During several moments of the game, there was an exchange of positions and roles between Theo Hernández and Hakan Çalhanoğlu. While the Spaniard was several meters ahead to play as a winger, the Turk was several meters behind and occupied that position. In this way, Pioli wanted to take advantage of the speed of Hernández and also the pause of Çalhanoğlu in that sector of the pitch.
One of Pioli’s clear ideas in Milan has been to play with a very marked axis. In some matches, it has been Lucas Biglia while in others it has been Franck Kessié, and in this match it was Ismaël Bennacer. Regardless of the player, the function is the same: to be the link between the backline and the midfielders. For that, the player must have a lot of mobility to always generate lines of passes.
In addition to the above, Milan continued to exert the pressure like they have been doing for several matches. The idea is to mark one of the possible receivers of a pass, which forces the opposition to switch from playing with short passes to long passes instead, in order to jump the lines.
Lazio’s aggressive tactics
Lazio’s first element during this match was the pressure they handled. In this case, Lazio simply tried to cover Milan’s passing lines between the backline and the midfielders. This way Milan found a short circuit and it prevented them from having fluidity in the game.
What surprised Lazio the most was the aggressiveness they handled throughout the game. For example, Lazio’s wide midfielders acted as full-backs and wingers. It all depended on the timing and context of the game. During attacking phases, both were free to attack and formed a line of five players, which made it very difficult for Milan to defend.
In addition, Lazio’s numerical superiority was evident during many moments of the match. There were usually more Lazio players than Milan ones in every sector of the pitch. For example, the Milan midfielders always found themselves outnumbered, and that made the team look very erratic. This is another way of how Inzaghi had won the tactical battle against Pioli.
When Lazio didn’t have possession of the ball, the formation changed to a 5-3-2. The wide midfielders went back several meters to form a backline of five players. This made Lazio occupy the wide spaces of the pitch in a better way both in attack and defence. Lucas Leiva was also the only defensive midfielder, while at his sides were Sergej Milinković-Savić and Luis Alberto.
As mentioned earlier, Lazio’s wide midfielders played as full-backs and wingers. In this case, it was evident when both were deployed to attack. Inzaghi’s idea was that when Lazio had possession of the ball, both would go several meters forward. This also caused Lazio to attack with many players. For Milan, it was very difficult to mark them in the box.
This tactical analysis showed that Milan continues with the same problems in their tactics. 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 Juventus on the next Serie A fixture, which will be a really tough game. However, a good result against Juventus can be a decisive turning point for Milan’s season.
On the other hand, Lazio are having a very solid Serie A season. Inzaghi’s tactical ideas continue to surprise and have found solidity. Lazio are in the fifth position fighting to qualify to the Champions League next season. The best thing about Lazio and Inzaghi is the process that has been respected which will take several seasons to pay off. This has been the key so far in this Serie A. On the next matchday, Lazio will face Lecce at home.
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