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Bonucci, Montella underscore what went wrong for Milan vs Lazio

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Playing Lazio is never an easy task, but the new Milan squad was definitely expecting a lot better after two consecutive Serie A wins.

The match at the Stadio Olimpico was postponed for an hour due to heavy rain, but that didn’t seem to slow the Rossoneri down at first as they dominated the first twenty minutes.

From then on, however, Vincenzo Montella’s line-up mistakes began to become exposed. The midfield was incredibly flat and stale; they weren’t creating any chances and instead were relying on long balls hoping that Patrick Cutrone would work some of his magic. Cutrone had been in fantastic form but Lazio’s organized backline was never going to be beat that simply.

Riccardo Montolivo, which came to no surprise to the Rossoneri faithful, had another poor game. Putting his one goal aside, Montolivo was the main culprit for Milan’s attack inefficiencies. The former captain slowed down the pace going forward as he never seemed to know what he wanted to do with the ball at his feet. He paused every time he received the ball, and when he finally decided to do something he either passed it to the back or turned over possession.

Fabio Borini started on the left wing in front of Montolivo, and he also had a very poor game. Milan fans were understandably very upset with Montolivo and Borini starting after this summer’s spending spree, and them starting on the same side of the field made things a lot worse.

Lazio marked Suso on the right wing for the entire game, which basically forced Milan to create from the left side. This was Lazio’s game plan; the left flank was the obvious weak point for Milan today and it was exposed. Borini and Montolivo should be nothing more but depth options for midweek games versus easier Europa League opponents, but Montella inexplicably gave them the start versus a legitimate Serie A team.

Montella also kept over 80 million Euros worth of new signings on the bench. Hakan Çalhanoglu, Nikola Kalinić, and Andre Silvá were all big names brought in to reinvigorate the team, but Montella opted to start this match with them on the bench. After Ciro Immobile’s brace in the first half, many expected Montella to make changes at half time. He didn’t, and instead Lazio quickly made it 4-0 to start the second half. Milan scored a goal and kept the play more competitive once Çalhanoglu and Kalinć were finally introduced, but it was still far too late. Montella’s tactical decisions today were inexcusable.

It must also be noted that Milan’s defense played very poorly. Things were looking up when the team only conceded one goal in six competitive matches, but the back four was a mess today.

Davide Calabria got the start as right back due to Andrea Conti’s ankle injury, and it was quite clear that the Primavera product wasn’t ready. He couldn’t handle any of Lazio’s forwards in one-on-one situations, didn’t help offensively as his crosses were off, and he was at fault for leaving Immobile wide open for his second goal.

The three other big defensive acquisitions this summer in Leonardo Bonucci, Matteo Musacchio, and Ricardo Rodriguez weren’t far better than Calabria. All in all, they made too many errors such as doubling up on individual players (as they did on Marco Parolo allowing Immobile to secure a hat trick) and simply seemed disorganized during Lazio’s goals. This is likely just a bump in the road, however, as the back line is still creating chemistry and learning how to play together.

Lazio blew out Milan today in quite an odd match. Milan looked to be the better team early, but overtime Lazio discovered Montella’s tactical flaws and used them to their advantage. The Rossoneri have a lot to work on and little time to do so as they travel to Vienna to play Austria Wien in a Europa League fixture this coming Thursday.

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