AC Milan vs. Manchester City: What Both Managers Learned

Anthony LopopoloFeatured ColumnistJuly 28, 2014

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Coach Pippo Inzaghi said the result was partly on him. But the problems were nothing new. AC Milan could not and would not defend, and Manchester City won 5-1 on Sunday in the International Champions Cup.

The matchup was always tough for the Rossoneri, a team with bad defensive tendencies against a club that never stops attacking. The one virtue of Manuel Pellegrini's side is that they do not relent. They pump their opponents with goals, in the Premier League or in preseason tournaments.

Last year in the Audi Cup, City also scored five goals against Milan and roared to an early lead. Milan simply could not contain a hungry team full of players hoping to redeem themselves and make an impact.

Stevan Jovetic, who only made 13 Premier League appearances in what was a season full of injuries last year, scored twice and darted around the field like someone with something to prove.

And he does: In a team littered with attacking options, it is going to be hard for Jovetic to shine through.

Ed Rieker/Associated Press

"He had a lot of injuries during the whole year," said Pellegrini after the match, per, "so it is very difficult for a player to have an important performance when he cannot play three games in a row. 

"I think now he works hard and continues every day, he will demonstrate why he is here at Manchester City because I think he is very good player."

The 17-year-old Nigerian Kelechi Iheanacho toe-poked a goal of his own. It was his second strike in two games with City, a club that can spend but also find the raw talent. Iheanacho still needs a work permit to compete professionally in England. That's how young he is.

So Pellegrini most probably knows that he has a stable of fine breeds and colts ready to take over.

Yet it is not the same for Milan.

At times it looked like they were just going through the motions, waiting for the game to end. There was no game plan, let alone much effort.

The Brazilian Alex was supposed to bring some much-needed stability to the back line, but he looked slow and indecisive during the game, looking for the offside flag before the first goal was scored. It was lazy.

Milan have now conceded eight goals in two preseason games on tour in North America. Forget the standings: Milan are trying to sell and resuscitate a product that has dealt with a lot of bad press in the last couple of years, and this is no way to convince new and old fans on this side of the world. 

Inzaghi threw on Mario Balotelli if only to save the spectacle. Two pitch invaders ran on to the field to take a picture with him. Even when he's not scoring goals, Balotelli is the star—or the distraction, whichever.

Milan do not even have much time to correct their defensive deficiencies. They will start the Serie A season on August 31 against Lazio, who have added Italy midfielder Marco Parolo and impressive Dutch centre-back Stefan De Vrij while retaining World Cup winner Miroslav Klose. They will then face Parma, who beat Milan twice last year, then Juventus.

It leaves Inzaghi with a lot of work to do over the next month, as the manager himself suggests, via Football Italia:

Obviously we need to get better. There are several areas where we can get better, but we've just started working together as a squad so it will take time. This team could only finish in eighth place in Serie A last season so there are a lot of improvements we need to make.