AC Milan- Match Report vs Bologna 21/09/20

In their opening game Milan put in a promising display and secured a 2-0 victory over Bologna. Both sides deployed 4-2-3-1 formations although for much of the game Bologna appeared more like a 4-5-1. Bologna started the brightest, pressing quickly from kick off, but this was as good as it got for them as Milan began to control the game. The industrious work of Kessie and Bennacer allowed Milan to dominate the midfield and dictate the game. They made great use of their full backs, having them push high and link up with the wingers to create overloads in wide areas.

The second half was more of the same as Milan continued to pin Bologna in their own half. Following their second goal Milan lowered the tempo, looking to see out the game comfortably. However, Bologna began to threaten late on, as they threw on attacking substitutes, with only the crossbar and a fine Donnarumma save prevented them from scoring. In the end Milan cruised to the win as a late red card killed Bologna’s momentum.

Ratings:

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, re-watch
  • D – Below average in this match

Davide Calabria

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Italian
  • Age: 23
  • Date of Birth: 06/12/1996
  • Current Club: AC Milan
  • Career: AC Milan
  • Position: Right Back
  • Preferred foot: Right

Calabria played as Milan’s right back and put in a very assured performance. Defensively he was rock solid in 1v1’s and won his battles with the Musa Barrow, who began to play centrally in an attempt to find more success. He is a tenacious defender who is quick into the tackle, rarely allowing his opponent time to or space to turn. In total he made six tackles and won possession in four of these, which was the most of any player on the day.

He’s only 5’9 and does lack a physical presence and with a rather average build he is fairly ineffective aerially. Despite this, he was keen to be involved in the physical side of the game. He competed well in twelve duels, winning eight, while he seemed to enjoy the defensive side of the game.

In possession he was equally impressive. As Milan encouraged their full backs to advance he was constantly looking to move forward and move infield. His interplay with the wingers and central midfielders was effective, with his pace allowing him to penetrate the spaces out wide. He is a technically proficient player who’s passing and touches were both strong. His passes tended to be shorter but many were in tight spaces or intricate one-twos, which caused issues for Bolgona. In all, he finished with a very good 92% pass accuracy.

In the final third he was dangerous on multiple occasions and he was unlucky not to get an assist after playing it through to Saelemaekers, who squandered a great chance from ten yards. Overall, he put in a complete performance today, looking adept both offensively and defensively. Should he consistently perform like this he could be in for a big season.

Calabria’s whoscored touch map shows how he was active both defensivly and offensivly. While illustrating how he likes to come infield.

Rating – A1

Franck Kessie

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Ivorian
  • Age: 23
  • Date of Birth: 19/12/1996
  • Current Club: AC Milan
  • Career: Atalanta, Cesena (L), AC Milan (L), AC Milan
  • Position: Centre Midfield
  • Secondary Position: Defensive Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Kessie partnered Bennacer in a double pivot today and their partnership compliments each other well. At 6ft and with a strong frame he is a physically imposing midfielder. This combined with a high work rate, meant he was very capable at breaking up Bologna attacks and regaining possession. In addition, he was active in Milan’s press, regularly advancing on the Bolgona’s midfielders who were looking to receive the ball as they attempted to play out from the back.

He looked dominant aerially, winning all his aerial duels without looking challenged. Similarly, he is strong on the ground winning, 3/4 of duels while also making three interceptions inside 77 minutes. However, Kessie is not just a destructive midfielder. Technically he has good footwork and close control, which he demonstrated with his two dribbles in tight situations. His passing is also strong, ending with 92% accuracy, although his range was rarely tested this game as Milan consistently looked to play short.

The only downsides to Kessie’s game revolve around his sub-standard pace. This can hinder his ability to be as active or get back into position if caught out further forward. As the second half went on he did begin to look slightly leggy but this may be down to early season rustiness. Moreover, he is not the best ball carrier, due to his pace, which can slow down attacks. Despite these issues Kessie was still key to Milan’s dominance and alongside Bennacer these issues are masked.

Rating – A2

Ismael Bennacer

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Algerian
  • Age: 22
  • Date of Birth: 01/12/1997
  • Current Club: AC Milan
  • Career: Arles, Arsenal (Y), Tours (L), Empoli, AC Milan
  • Position: Centre Midfield
  • Secondary Position: Defensive Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Left

Bennacer played alongside Kessie today and was dominant in the midfield. Similarly, to Kessie he has a great work rate and engine meaning he covered considerable ground for Milan. He has greater pace than Kessie and being just 5’8 is more agile. Technically, he is highly skilled, maintaining good control of the ball with lots of little touches. Along with this, he is confident using both feet meaning he can turn and change direction quickly.

Bennacer is also an adept ball carrier, which is no surprise given his pace and close control. His passing is also strong but, as with Kessie, they were mainly shorter today with Milan looked to control the game and retain possession. Furthermore, he is strong positionally, regularly finding space to provide an easy option for his teammates. Consequently, he was able dictate the game and finished the game with the most touches, 76, and passes, 56, at an accuracy of 92%. His tactical awareness is evident as he was often seen slotting in at full back when they joined the attack.

Additionally, Bennacer is active in the dirtier side of the game. He presses quickly and is strong in the tackle, making two today. His tenacity was on show as he got to a loose ball first and won the penalty which resulted in their second goal. He was aggressive in midfield, contesting ten duels, winning a decent six, and was hard working until being substituted in the 86th. Aerially, he was a bit reliant on Kessie but this was not an overbearing issue and on the whole Bennacer put in a great performance.

Bennacer’s whoscored heatmap displays how he was active across most of the pitch

Rating – A1

Theo Hernandez

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: French
  • Age: 22
  • Date of Birth: 06/10/97
  • Current Club: AC Milan
  • Career: Atletico Madrid, Alaves (L), Real Madrid, Real Sociedad (L), AC Milan
  • Position: Left Back
  • Preferred foot: Left

Theo Hernandez operated from left back today and provided some real attacking impetus for his side. He is a forward thinking full back and so was looking to advance at every opportunity. He was rarely static after releasing the ball, showing good movement, and played some neat one-twos with Rebic; who he linked up with well all game.

On the ball he is a slick player who clearly has high technical ability. His passes were hit with pace and accuracy, while his longer passes into the channels caused some danger. His passing ability was epitomised for his assist in which he whipped a great cross in for Ibrahimovic to connect with and guide home for the opener.

He posses excellent pace which he utilised when making bursting runs forward or driving forward with the ball himself. At 6ft tall he is a fairly tall full back, but he is not massively built out. Consequently, he retains his speed and agility however, he did look slightly weak in challenges. He appeared less committed to the defensive side than the offensive and only won three of the eight duels he contested. Furthermore, he had a tendency to go ground easily, looking for a free-kick, which could leave his side exposed if one was not given.

Even though defending is his weaker aspect he did put a decent performance in today. Although, he was never overly tested and against high quality opponents or more adventurous teams he may struggle more. Aerially he has no real issues, with his height being an advantage. Yet, he is hesitant to tackle and so can be passed around with relative ease at times. From the whole game he had no tackles, blocks or interception which does highlight how he does less defensively. But, Milan did not come under much pressure today and so he had less chances to complete these actions.

Rating – A2

Hernandez’s whoscored touch map is not too dissimilar to Calabria’s and demonstrates how forward thinking he is

Matteo Gabbia

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Italian
  • Age: 20
  • Date of Birth: 21/10/1999
  • Current Club: AC Milan
  • Career: AC Milan, Lucchese (L)
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Preferred foot: Right

The young centre back partnered Kjaer in central defence today and put in a decent, if unremarkable, display. During the first half Gabbia tended to drop back and act as cover for his fellow centre back and so was far less active. Although, he did receive a lot of the ball and completed the second most passes in the game with 52. However, he was rarely under pressure when in possession. While most of his passes were simple and conservative ones played deep inside his own half, albeit with good accuracy.

At only 6ft Gabbia is on the small side for a centre back, but in the first half he still competed well aerially, winning two duels. Furthermore, he is a committed defender who was not afraid to put his body on the line for the team. He blocked the most shots, with four, looking fearless in this aspect.

In the second half he did begin to play more aggressive and was seen stepping up to nick the ball on a few occasions. But, there were times this was less successful and he was drawn out of the defensive line which left Milan exposed. In addition, on the rare occasion a Bologna attacker ran at Gabbia he did look somewhat uncomfortable and off balance. He seemed slow to turn and was slow to change his body position when the attackers changed direction or pace.

Clearly, Gabbia is far from the finished article. Today he was decent but his defensive capabilities may be put to the test more against tougher opposition, who may expose his frailties.

Rating – B1

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