Coming into this game AC Milan had lost 2 out of their last 3 home games, this was a must win game for The Rossoneri if they wanted to keep pace with their arch city rivals Inter who were leading Serie A by 4 points. Injuries to the defence meant 3rd and 4th choice Centre Backs Kululu and Gabbia started. AC Milan lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation and pressed high from that start as Pioli’s team normally do. This forced AS Roma in to a number of mistakes which led to Milan being 2-0 up after only 17 minutes. Tammy Abraham pulled one back for AS Roma 5 minutes before the interval. Despite Roma’s fight back, red cards to Karsdrop and Mancini proved vital and the The Rossoneri ran out deserved 3-1 winners to move within a point of Inter Milan.
- 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
- Nationality: Italian
- Age: 21
- Date of Birth: 08/05/2000
- Current Club: AC Milan
- Career: Brescia
- Position: Central Midfield
- Preferred foot: Right
Sandro Tonali has been a mainstay for AC Milan this season playing every one of AC Milan’s 20 league games to date, before the game people might have perceived this to be Tonali’s toughest game of the season, due to Kessie and Bennacur’s absences Rade Krunic partnered Sandro in a double pivot with who he has only played with a handful of times this season. Furthermore, Tonali was also asked to protect 3rd and 4th choice Centre Backs Kululu and Gabbia. Despite all of this Sandro Tonali was excellent vs AS Roma he showed a leader’s performance, a captain’s performance some might say. Showing real maturity throughout the game, Sandro really helped break AS Roma’s quick transitions on a number of occasions, with his energy and his work rate.
Physically Sandro Tonali showed a different side to his game as previously seen by many Serie A fans, he was aggressive in the tackle and dominated AS Roma’s midfielders, winning 5 out of his 6 duels. One of Tonali’s most impressive attributes in this game was his ability to track runners and anticipate danger. His discipline in and out of possession was excellent, knowing when to press high and when to cut passing lines was vital to AC Milan’s success in this game.
On the ball, Sandro Tonali was the calmest man on the field, excellent at receiving the ball under pressure and playing vertical passes to progress AC Milan up the pitch. In my opinion one of Sandro Tonali’s underrated strengths is his dribbling and his ball-carrying ability, this is an area of his game in which I think he could do more. Tonali’s exceptional first touch and passing ability allow him to switch the play quickly, which proves very effective in the way that AC Milan plays which allows them to counter quickly.
An obvious tactic from AS Roma in the first half was to stop the ball from being played into Tonali from either goalkeeper or the two centre backs. Impressively Sandro realised this pretty quickly and his clever movement dragged Abraham and Zaniolo out of position to allow the Centre Backs to progress the ball more vertically to the attacking players in the final 3rd. A weakness in his game is definitely aerially both in the attacking and the defensive phase of play.
Rating – A1
A flawless performance from Tonali vs AS Roma, excellent in both phases of play. Showed real maturity despite only being 21 years of age, and showed the composure and experience to really help a depleted Milan team get the 3 points. More dominant performances like this will surely catch the eye of some of Europe’s biggest teams.
- Nationality: French
- Age: 21
- Date of Birth: 05/06/2000
- Current Club: AC Milan
- Career: Lyon
- Position: Centre Back/Right Back
- Preferred foot: Right
Arriving from Lyon in the summer of 2020 you would be forgiven for not having heard of Pierre Kalulu, failing to play a single game for Lyon’s first team a few eye brows were raised when he joined The Rossoneri on a free transfer. Being without Kjaer, Tomori and Romagnoli, AC Milan fielded Kalulu and Gabbia at the heart of the defence with Pierre playing on the right side of the central pairing.
One of Pierre Kalulu’s strengths is his versatility, joining the club as a right-back he has already played Centre Back and Left Back during his relatively short time with the club. Physically Pierre is impressive, strong and aggressive it is easy to see why the AC Milan faithful have already taken to him. Without a doubt, his biggest asset is his pace, allowing AC Milan to carry on playing their high defensive line with the absence of Tomori. On a number of occasions, Pierre’s pace was utilised to recover the ball and stop Tammy Abraham from being through 1 on 1 with the Goalkeeper.
Defensively 1v1 Kalulu was excellent, due to his pace and his positioning when defending 1v1 he often showed opponents out wide and blocked crosses. Technically Pierre is more than comfortable in possession, often receiving the ball off Centre Back partner Gabbia. Granted AS Roma didn’t press that high up regularly to cause him many problems, but from what I saw he is more than happy to play out from the back.
Losing both of his aerial duels, heading is definitely a part of his game that he could improve, being 5”10 up against a tall striker like Abraham caused Pierre some problems. You can certainly see Kalulu’s inexperience and rawness in his play with his over-eagerness to engage in play and step out to win the ball sometimes causing Milan problems, knowing when is the right time to do this will come with more game time, I’m sure of it.
Rating – A2
Overall, another impressive performance from Kalulu, who is certainly improving with every game that he plays. Impressive scouting from Milan seems to have paid off again, with more game time and if they can decide on his best position Milan could certainly have another gem on their hands.