Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

AC Milan allows PSG to walk through the midfield

Rafael Leao and Christian Pulisic weren’t involved once PSG got past the first phase. This left midfielders Yunus Musah, Rade Krunic, and Tijani Reijnders on an island in the middle, tasked to run around like chickens with their heads cut off, trying to stop PSG’s midfield three and Hakimi.

Rather than being impenetrable in the middle of the pitch like Newcastle were when they clogged the middle, AC Milan are chasing the ball, creating space for PSG on the opposite side of the pitch away from the ball.

AC Milan would need to have 13 players on the pitch to stop PSG defending in this manner.

Figure 1.1 - The positioning of AC Milan and PSG just before Kylian Mbappe is passed the ball for the first goal.

That 3v4 then forced one of AC Milan’s full-backs to push forward once PSG advanced into their end. Usually right-back Pierre Kalulu would move to mark Vitinha. This left Malick Thiaw 1v1 against Kylian Mbappe. PSG took advantage of that mismatch for the first goal.

Figure 2.1 - PSG force a turnover and have a 3v2 advantage on the break.

AC Milan’s full-backs were far too relaxed in their positioning moving forward. There should never be an instance where Mbappe, Dembele, and Kolo Muani are 3v2 against center-backs Fikayo Tomori and Malick Thiaw. Even if it is a counter, they’re too dangerous to be left alone with only two back to defend. At a minimum, you need three back, but even then, that is a lot of talent you need to hold back.

The passing from Marquinhos and Achraf Hakimi was very sloppy on PSG’s right side. An area to target to force turnovers when in PSG’s half. PSG did a good job recovering when they lost the ball in their half; Hakimi’s speed when he’s recovering is a cheat code. But they lost the ball too often through lackadaisical play in the 1st half.

Match: AC Milan vs PSG, October 25, 2023

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