AC Milan – SSC Napoli: Paquetá and Piatek leave good first impression at San Siro in goalless but entertaining draw (0-0)

In a very evenly matched first half, both Napoli and Milan failed to consistently disorder their opponent’s defense and create good chances. In the more dynamic second half, a more aggressive Napoli clearly dominated, until Milan unveiled their newest weapon: Krzysztof Piatek.

Tactical analysis by José Pérez.


AC Milan is in the middle of a highly competitive race for the fourth Champions League place, with strong competitors in AS Roma, SS Lazio and the surprising Atalanta Bergamo. Coach Gennaro Gattuso has built a strong defense, but his team has struggled in the offensive phases this season. Milan often experience difficulties to progress through midfield, stretch opposition defenses and create spaces for a declining Gonzalo Higuaín, who thus disappointed in his short spell at Milan.

An overworked Suso has been forced to create offense out of thin air, doing everything from ball progression, to creating chances (8 assists) to scoring (5 goals). To improve the offense, Milan has completed two big winter signings in striker Krzysztof Piatek and midfielder Lucas Paquetá.

On the other hand, Napoli have not been able to keep up with a near-flawless Juventus, but at least they are firmly the second-best team in Italy. Carlo Ancelotti quickly and efficiently transitioned Napoli into a 4-4-2 shape and a deeper defensive block.  A defensive block is the compact group of defenders that defends a particular zone, either their own half in a medium defensive block, or the zone around their own box in a deep defensive block. His Napoli might not be as spectacular as the one of prior coach Maurizio Sarri, but they . . .

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Jose Perez (27) writes and talks about anything football-related: players, tactics, analytics, the relationship between football and society. Whenever he is not working on high-power lasers, he tries to keep up with all big five European leagues, but focuses particularly on La Liga. Outside of Between the Posts, you can find him arguing with people and posting analyses on Twitter or answering questions on Quora. [ View all posts ]

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