After the qualification to the next round of Europa League, Milan wanted to reinforce their leadership in Serie A. But Parma managed to block the Rossoneri with a 2-2 draw at the latter’s home with an incredible and lucky defensive proof.

Milan recovered the game in the last minutes of the match by avoiding the first loss of the season. Parma left San Siro with two draws, both of them 2-2 against the two Milano teams.

In this tactical analysis, I will focus on the tactics of this game. With the use of footage and data analysis, I will explain how Milan did not find the net and how Parma stang in the counterattacks.


Milan was set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Gianluigi Donnarumma started as a goalkeeper, Theo Hernández as a left-back and Davide Calabria on the other side. Matteo Gabbia and Alessio Romagnoli started as centre-backs to further harmony between this duo. Ismaël Bennacer was the playmaker with Kessié in the midfield. And former Bayer Leverkusen player Hakan Çalhanoğlu played as an offensive midfielder. Whereas Samu Castillejo started on the right flank and Brahim Díaz on the left-wing. Ante Rebić led the front line.

Serie A 2020/21: Milan vs Parma - tactical analysis tactics

Fabio Liverani chose the 4-3-3 formation. Luigi Sepe started in between the posts. The Italian manager put Bruno Alves and Yordan Osorio in the centerline. Simone Iacoponi as a right-back while Roberto Gagliolo on the other side. In midfield, the two central midfielders were Jasmin Kurtić and Hernani with Gastón Brugman as a defensive midfielder. Gervinho played on the left flank whereas Yann Karamoh on the right one. Andreas Cornelius was the striker.

Parma’s defensive structure

Liverani prepared the game considering Milan’s attacking force. His 4-3-3 is always a 4-5-1 formation due to the impossibility to maintain the possession of the ball. Only 38% in the first-half while 33% in the second-half testified the difficulties to advance with the ball with safety and tranquillity.

Serie A 2020/21: Milan vs Parma - tactical analysis tactics

We can see Parma’s shape in the image above. Cornelius was the only striker, appointed to sully the first Milan’s construction between Romagnoli and Pierre Kalulu. The Frenchman went on in place of the injured Gabbia after just five minutes.

Gervinho and Karamoh covered the width while Hernani and Kurtić went on the opposite double pivot. Brugman stayed on the offensive midfielder because Díaz and Çalhanoğlu often changed their positions.

But Milan managed to overtake the wall easily. The main problem was in the last 25 meters, because of bad luck or passing choices Milan shot 26 times, but only six of them were on target, 11 off target and nine times were blocked shots. Another curiosity was the fact that the Rossoneri hit the woodwork four times (three times from Çalhanoğlu).

Milan dominated the game

Milan had lots of chances to score. Parma’s defensive structure was solid but lucky. And the perception was that if Milan had raised the bets, they would have scored in every occasion.

One of the most used tools were the immediate research of the depth. Hernández or Çalhanoğlu tried the laser pass behind Osorio in order to create a 1vs1 situation and finish the action in the penalty area with Díaz, Castillejo, one of the two midfielders or Rebić himself who could shot from good positions.

Serie A 2020/21: Milan vs Parma - tactical analysis tactics

In the image above, we can see this situation. Parma’s defensive line was ready to cover the width and escape with the right timing. And it is necessary to underline the performance of the Venezuelan defender: four clearances, four blocked shots, two interceptions, 3/4 aerial duels won, 19/24 passes (79% of accuracy) and 2/5 long balls.

Milan found the goal in the 22nd minute, but then it was disallowed by the VAR. In the image below, we can see how Milan created a numerical superiority in the penalty area and how Hernández was a big contributor in Milan’s offensive game. Pioli can count on one of the best left-backs in the world right now. He is one of the most complete players in this position, and against Parma: two goals, one clearance, two interceptions, two blocked shots, two tackles, 6/10 ground duels won, 2/3 aerial duels won, 68/81 passes (84% of accuracy), two key passes, 5/6 long balls, one big chance created, 2/4 successful dribbles and two shots.

Serie A 2020/21: Milan vs Parma - tactical analysis tactics

Another key player for the Rossoneri was Çalhanoğlu. Pioli gave him the liberty in the last third of the pitch, and he managed to move easily between the lines. In the image below, we can see how Milan overtook Parma’s midfield. Díaz moved on the right bringing next to him Brugman while Castillejo moved near Rebić. In this way, the Turkish was the free man behind Hernani and Kurtić, who marked Kessié and Bennacer.

Serie A 2020/21: Milan vs Parma - tactical analysis tactics

Milan conceded the second goal in the first minutes of the second half. Pioli tried to shake the team by inserting Rafael Leão and Hauge in the place of Díaz and Castillejo. Milan’s setting was ultra-offensive. In the image below, we can see how the Rossoneri tried to recover the ball by activating an asphyxiating pressing. As a matter of fact, Parma always tried the long ball to Cornelius (and then Inglese) in order to avoid this pressing line.

Serie A 2020/21: Milan vs Parma - tactical analysis tactics

The analysis of the goals

Parma’s conversion rate was 100%. The two shots on target were the two goals. The first one came from a great 1vs1 situation of Gervinho against Kalulu on the left flank. The former Arsenal player invented a ground cross to Hernani who was free outside the penalty area. In this case, a good amount of responsibility can be appointed to Bennacer, who did not close the passing line.

Serie A 2020/21: Milan vs Parma - tactical analysis tactics

The second goal was a good action developed on the right side. The accordion’s movement between Karamoh and Hernani gave the Brazilian the possibility to attack the free space behind his teammate.

Serie A 2020/21: Milan vs Parma - tactical analysis tactics

Milan were not balanced, and Kurtić picked up the great cross. In this case, Calabria was late and did not manage to mark the opposition player.

Serie A 2020/21: Milan vs Parma - tactical analysis tactics

Milan found a deserved draw from Hernández. The first on a corner kick. Theo moved up Hernani and scored. In the image below, we can see the goal.

Serie A 2020/21: Milan vs Parma - tactical analysis tactics

While the second goal came from a great ground cross from Calabria. Rebić shot the ball but found the opposition of Sepe, and on the rebound, Theo scored.

Serie A 2020/21: Milan vs Parma - tactical analysis tactics


Milan wasted a good opportunity to maintain the distances from the pursuers, such as Juventus and Inter. The performance was really good, but bad luck won this game.

Parma gained a golden point against one of the most important teams in Serie A. Liverani must work heavily on the attacking solutions in the future.