A Lesson in Opportunities Lost? Analyzing the Reasons for Empoli’s Successful Stalemate with Uninspired Milan
AC Milan were left red-faced on Friday night as they were held to an uninspiring goalless stalemate by Empoli in Serie A. This result leaves manager Stefano Pioli with plenty of work to do ahead of Wednesday’s opening leg of their Champions League quarterfinal against Napoli, a game which could have massive implications on both teams’ future success.
The result leaves Milan third in Serie A with 52 points, 22 points behind runaway leaders Napoli and three points behind second-placed Lazio who face Juventus on Saturday. It was an outcome that could have been seen miles away given the lacklustre performance from the Rossoneri who are usually a team that at least put up some form of fight in this type of match. But this time, there seemed to be no fire or spirit at all from the home side and it was a clear indication that something is still amiss with the tactics and overall approach from Pioli’s men which has been present for several weeks now.
The biggest problem for Milan was their inability to create clear cut chances in front of goal, something that has plagued them throughout the season. Their play going forward lacked invention and ideas, with most attacks breaking down quickly due to poor decision-making or ineffective passing. The Rossoneri also looked very susceptible defensively when Empoli counter-attacked and they were lucky to escape without conceding any goals while being kept out by inspired performances from goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma who made multiple key saves throughout the game.
Milan’s biggest disappointment though would have been their lack of urgency when it came to making changes during the game. Despite his team being clearly off the boil and unable to break down their opponents, Pioli remained unwilling or unable to make substitutions until late into stoppage time when he finally brought on Hakan Calhanoglu and Lucas Paqueta hoping that they could make a difference. Sadly though it was too little too late as neither player had enough time to even make an impact before full time whistle blew and so Milan were condemned to another disappointing draw which further damages their ambitions for this season.
It is difficult not feel sorry for a club like AC Milan who only recently reestablished themselves as one of Europe’s elite clubs after years in decline. However this recent result serves as a lesson in opportunities lost as despite having their destiny still within grasp, Milan look set to fall short once again due to failing where it matters most – on the pitch. Although maybe purchasing a new AC Milan jersey may inspire Pioli’s men ahead of Wednesday’s pivotal match against Napoli, only time will tell whether or not they can muster up enough energy and determination turn things around before it is too late..