In a game which included a truly bizarre own goal, one of the most cheeky goals you will ever witness, a goal from De Jong having run half the length of the pitch and another six goals, you might not think that tactics played a major part in Sunday evening’s match at the Tardini, however for the first 25 minutes in particular, they were crucial in setting the scene for an extremely eventful 90 minutes.
Both teams favoured a 4-3-3 formation, with one pivot/regista in midfield, however Milan utilised a false 9 to near perfection in the form of Jeremy Menez, the best player on the pitch, who was vital for the Rossoneri, both defensively and offensively.
Inzaghi’s side were happy to allow Parma to have possession amongst their back four, especially the two centre-backs, who had Lodi positioned just in front of them and Jorquera and Acquah making shuttle runs back and forth to try to receive the ball. In so doing, the Crociati found it difficult to build from the back, as Honda and Bonaventura occupied the full-backs, meaning that only the midfielders could receive a short pass, which was difficult in itself, due to the positioning of Menez, Muntari and Poli. This meant that Parma had to play a more direct style of football and with Cassano up front, this was not ideal.
On the one occasion when Milan lost their organisation in the first 45 minutes, they were made to pay, as Muntari left his man unmarked to pressurise the centre-back on the ball, allowing Parma to play through the centre, which subsequently led to the equaliser, after some intricate play from the Gialloblu. If there was ever any proof that you always need to stay alert and organised in Serie A, this is it!
Milan meanwhile, built from the back in a different way, with De Jong dropping into a back three, allowing the two full-backs to create width high up the pitch in the opposition half. Although this made it hard for Milan to use to the wings when building from defence, Honda, Menez and Bonaventura could come and receive the ball from deep, dragging Ristovski and De Ceglie – especially – out of position, consequently creating space in wide areas, where a lofted pass down the channels to either Abate or De Sciglio would allow the Diavoli to break into the final third.
This can be seen when Milan scored their second goal, as Menez came deep to receive from De Jong, allowing Honda to move into the space vacated by the Frenchman, dragging De Ceglie infield with him, which gave Abate the licence to make a run down the line, so that Menez could pick him out. This is without doubt one of the training ground moves Inzaghi referred to after the full time whistle.
The second half was less intriguing, in tactical terms, and was riddled with mistakes, moments of genius and hilarity, which led to the other five goals and game’s two red cards. There was hardly any tactical ingenuity in the second 45 minutes, but if excitement was what you were looking for, you certainly got it!