AC Milan extended their good run of form by earning a hard-fought comeback victory against a combative Hellas Verona, a 3-2 win which marked a new record for the club, as the Rossoneri had never managed to earn 22 points from their first eight Serie A games in the three-points-for-a-win era.
The Diavolo have put on display a wide array of skills during this process, such as character, quality and, most importantly, resilience.
When the referee blew the half-time whistle, with the Gialloblu 2-0 up, many may have thought that a turnaround would be an impossible task, especially for a side that had several key pieces missing in Mike Maignan, Theo Hernandez, and Brahim Diaz.
PIOLI’S TACTICAL TWEAKS CHANGED THE GAME FOR AC MILAN
From the opening minutes, it became evident that Verona’s gameplan was essentially based on aggression and quick ball recovery, before trying to break through the hosts’ defence with sudden vertical passes.
The visitors’ 3-4-2-1 system seemed to give them an edge in that respect, as Frank Kessie and Ismael Bennacer struggled to limit and keep track of their counterparts, as the duo behind Verona’s lone striker, consisting of Gianluca Caprari and Antonin Barak, was constantly supported by Ivan Ilic and Miguel Veloso, which allowed the Gialloblu to outnumber their opponents in a crucial area of the pitch.
Stefano Pioli must have taken such issues into consideration when he decided to replace Daniel Maldini with Rade Krunic during the break, bringing another man closer to the heart of the play.
Bringing on a more defensive midfielder at a time when the Diavolo were 2-0 down could have proven to be a risky move, but ended up being one that was crucial in inspiring the turnaround while preventing Igor Tudor’s men from creating more havoc at the same time.
From then on, Milan gradually took control of the game, also taking advantage of the visitors’ demanding style of play, which led to the first signs of fatigue being shown.
While the Rossoneri coach deserves praise for the way he read the Verona game, he should focus on avoiding similar two-faced performances in the future.
In fact, comebacks require a great deal of mental energy and, sooner or later, Pioli’s side could face a mountain too high to climb if they repeat a similar wrong initial approach to the game.