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. Milan’s 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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