US Sassuolo – AC Milan: deadly counterattack of Milan proves too much for Sassuolo (1-4)

AC Milan’s fast attacks and individual quality in the final third gave them a much-needed win away from home against Sassuolo. The home team’s possession led to few chances while they were made to pay for their mistakes by a Higuaín-less Milan.

Sassuolo are currently the hot team in Italian football and came into this game as Serie A’s number three after a routine 2-0 victory midweeks over SPAL. Manager Roberto De Zerbi rested many of his key players in that game, but Federico Di Francesco, Domenico Berardi and Kevin-Prince Boateng all returned to the starting eleven today to face AC Milan.

Gennaro Gattuso was without his two most important summer signings. Gonzalo Higuaín was ruled out with a thigh strain and centre-back Mattia Caldara has a similar muscle problem. Higuaín’s understudy Cutrone also has fitness issues and started on the bench, only being used as a substitute in the last twenty minutes of the game.

Both managers opted for a 4-3-3 formation as usual. However, the tactical approach of the two sides was very different.

Positioning of both teams when Sassuolo had the ball.

Milan’s intense defense
AC Milan’s approach in defense is an embodiment of their manager’s own playing style: aggressive, intense and sometimes ill disciplined. Above everything else, their focus was on applying good pressure to the ball-carrier in almost every situation.

When Sassuolo were building up in their own third, Milan would not sit back and wait. Rather, they would defend high up the pitch, shifting zonally in their 4-3-3 shape and applying intense pressure to the player about to receive a pass while . . .

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Tristan Thomas (20) is a football coach and tactical analyst based near London, UK. He started his first online work during the 2014 World Cup and subsequently was a tactical author at He is a full-time academy coach and self-confessed student of the game who is passionate about player development as well as tactical analysis. [ View all posts ]


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