After suffering a 5-1 defeat to Inter in the Derby della Madonnina on Saturday night, AC Milan’s Coach, Stefano Pioli, was confronted with questions about apologizing to the disappointed fans.
Inter had just accomplished a historic feat by securing their fifth consecutive victory over their city rivals this year, scoring 12 goals and conceding only one in the process.
With this derby win, Inter once again demonstrated their status as the frontrunners to clinch the Serie A title. Despite the departures of key players like Romelu Lukaku and Marcelo Brozovic, they continue to showcase their excellence. However, Pioli’s questionable tactical decisions and his team’s collapse in the final quarter of the match have invited significant criticism and emotional reactions.
Before this heavy derby loss, Milan had been exceeding expectations early in the season, silencing concerns about their summer overhaul. The decision to allow club legend Paolo Maldini to depart, followed by the sale of die-hard Milanista Sandro Tonali, raised doubts about whether the new owners, Red Bird, understood the club’s culture.
With the addition of ten new signings, Milan delighted fans with their dominant attacking style of play, which left observers wondering how Pioli integrated so many new faces so quickly. Former Chelsea players Christian Pulisic and Olivier Giroud immediately displayed their chemistry, creating and scoring goals together. Tijjani Reijnders’ dynamic runs into the box, coupled with Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s vision, energy, and work rate, instilled confidence in this new Milan.
The team was no longer overly reliant on individual brilliance, with options available all over the pitch, including on the bench.
However, defensive concerns persisted. While Milan won their first three games, conceding only two goals, the vulnerabilities in their defense were apparent. Fikayo Tomori’s absence due to suspension for the derby was a significant blow, and even in his presence, the defense looked shaky against stronger attacking opponents.
Inter’s physicality, tactical prowess, and midfield solidity neutralized Milan’s attacking threats and allowed them to capitalize on transitions effectively.
Milan’s 5-1 loss warrants criticism, but it shouldn’t be exaggerated. This is a team with ten new players who are still discovering their limitations and strengths. It’s only the fourth match of the season, and quick success should not be expected. Inter, with their experience and project continuity, remain favorites for the Serie A title and a formidable opponent for this evolving Milan.
Pioli remains confident in his team’s resilience, and while 2023 has been challenging in the derby fixtures, he has previously won two Serie A derbies in a row in 2022, a feat not achieved since Massimiliano Allegri in 2011. Milan faces Newcastle in the Champions League next and aims to redeem themselves. They retain their attacking prowess and will have Tomori back in defense, seeking a more balanced performance.
The club is quietly optimistic about their chances in what is currently labeled as the “group of death” in the Champions League. Winning the Champions League is a priority for financial reasons and reputation. Only Real Madrid has won more trophies in this competition than Milan, and they aspire to advance to the knockout stages to demonstrate their maturity and pedigree.