On match day 1, Milan visited the Stadio Artemio Franchi to take on Fiorentina. Siniša Mihajlović went with a 4-3-1-2 formation, the plan of attack assumed would take the field.
The formation looked as follows: D. Lopez; De Sciglio, Ely, Romagnoli, Antonelli; De Jong, Bertolacci, Bonaventura; Honda; L. Adriano, Bacca
It was imminent that the match would be a difficult one for the Rossoneri as La Viola have a quality side and would come out in front of their home crowd to prove a point in the very first fixture of the 2015-16 Serie A season. Paulo Sousa, in his league debut for the club since moving over from Basel, had his club readily prepared for any pressure Mihajlović threw his way.
Organized and collectively turning in a good performance, Fiorentina picked up a 2-0 result at home against Milan who played nearly 60 minutes with ten men once Rodrigo Ely picked up his second yellow card, resulting in a controversial sending off by referee Paolo Valeri. Marcos Alonso, after the former Avellino man committed the foul on the edge of the box, put home a beautiful free kick, passing by the outstretched Diego Lopez for the first goal. Josip Ilicic scored the second goal in the second half from the penalty spot after Alessio Romagnoli committed a foul in the box.
Many Milan supporters pointed the finger at the Italian official as the source of the poor result which while you could make a case for it, is inaccurate and unfair. Milan never got into their rhythm and creative chances to score never really arrived. If you weren’t able to watch the match live (for your sake, it was probably for the best), the match stats can summarize how the clubs played pretty well.
The newly appointed Milan manager spoke to the media after the tough defeat on the road. Mihajlović said, (via ItalianFootballDaily.com):
“I did not like the midfield. We haven’t done well there. We knew that Fiorentina played with great intensity. We weren’t surprised by that. There was no service to the forwards so I can’t really complain about them. We were unable to keep the ball and gave it away too quickly.”
Here are some of the match stats, courtesy of WhoScored.com:
Total Shots: Fiorentina 13, Milan 9
Shots on Target: Fiorentina 7, Milan 0
Pass Success: Fiorentina 85%, Milan 78%
Aerial Success: Fiorentina 38%, Milan 62%
Tackles: Fiorentina 18, Milan 13
Possession: Fiorentina 59%, Milan 41%
The numbers above give you a pretty good indication of how the match went, aside from the officiating which perhaps wasn’t the best.
For this article, we will break down Milan’s showing using the simple, brief phrase “The Good, Bad and Ugly,” but instead reverse it since we would like to end on a positive note. The Ugly, Bad and Good:
The Ugly: Andrea Bertolacci
One of the newest summer acquisitions failed to make a much needed impact on the match. Playing alongside De Jong and Bonaventura in the three-man midfield, the Italian failed to create chances and link up play with Honda and the attacking duo in Adriano and Bacca. He didn’t seem to click with the supporting cast around him but in his defense, many players left a lot to be desired. Regardless, the ex-Roma man did not play like a 20 million euro midfielder. It’s the first game so it’s unfair to criticize heavily considering the many new faces brought in this summer but Milan supporters expect more, especially from this area of the squad.
The Bad: Keisuke Honda
The Japanese international was thrusted into his traditional number 10 role. Honda, much like the rest of the squad, did little. Simply put. He did not fulfill the duties asked of the trequartista role which is to be the roaming, creative presence to get opportunities on net for his strikers. The former CSKA playmaker was replaced by Cristian Zapata in the 38th minute after Ely was sent off. The 29-year old wears the number 10 and will be given the chance to take the role by the reigns but he needs to play like a number ten moving forward.
The Good: Diego Lopez
Typically, a 2-0 defeat probably wouldn’t warrant anything of “good” quality but Diego Lopez was one of the lone bright spots in the result for Milan. The Spaniard bailed out his defense several times, preventing the match from becoming an opening day rout. Lopez, who was one of the best players the club fielded last year, seems to be in better position this season with a full season of Antonelli and the arrival of Romagnoli. Against Sousa’s Fiorentina, he kept the match somewhat in check given that he played on the road with his side down a man for an hour. Expect the former Real Madrid keeper to earn this title regularly throughout the season.
Next week, Mihajlović’s side will look to rebound from a tough season-opening defeat as they play hosts to Empoli who lost 3-1 to Chievo on Sunday.