Breaking Down Carlos Bacca's Recent Dry Spell with AC Milan

Sam LoprestiFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2015

Carlos Bacca has been held scoreless in his last four games.
Carlos Bacca has been held scoreless in his last four games.Dino Panato/Getty Images

Carlos Bacca came to AC Milan knowing he needed to impress.

He cost the team €30 million in the summer, and he wasn't even their first choice. Team CEO Adriano Galliani originally fixated of another Colombian, Jackson Martinez. Then at Porto, the striker was originally reported to have chosen Milan as his next challenge, but 10 days later, the deal was abruptly halted and Martinez ended up at Atletico Madrid.

Even though it was early in the window, the embarrassing situation meant Galliani was left scrambling to quickly find an alternative. Bacca, who conveniently had a buyout clause with Sevilla that was the exact amount as the fee Milan would have paid to Porto for Martinez, was identified, and the day after the window opened he was officially a Milan player.

He got off to a quick start. He scored three times in his first four games, and by the beginning of November, he had scored six times in 11 games.

But he has tailed off. Since he scored the team's final goal in their 3-1 win over Lazio on November 1, Bacca hasn't managed to find the scoresheet. The Rossoneri have only picked up five points in the four Serie A games following the Lazio win—not surprising considering the fact he's scored twice as many league goals as the next players on Milan's scoring chart, Luiz Adriano and Giacomo Bonaventura.

What's the problem? How has the hot start gone so cold so fast?

At its core, the issue isn't with Bacca. It's with his teammates.

Bonaventura (right) has been Bacca's only consistent creator.
Bonaventura (right) has been Bacca's only consistent creator.TIZIANA FABI/Getty Images

Bacca is actually having an incredible season. His movement has been fantastic, and he's been finding excellent positions to shoot. According to WhoScored.com's detailed statistics, 18 of the 22 shots he's taken have been taken inside the penalty area. Even more impressive is that fully half of his shots (11 of 22) have hit the target.

If you remove five blocked efforts from the equation, as Squawka does, his shooting accuracy stands at a mind-boggling 65 percent. Take that in for a moment—he's taken 22 shots this season and only six have been truly off target.

That hasn't changed during this dry spell. Squawka tracks his accuracy over the last four games at 67 percent. The problem is volume. Over the last four games Bacca has attempted only four shots. One was blocked, two have found the target and one has missed.

Here we have the issue that has plagued Bacca all season. He's only averaging 1.5 shots per game—a minuscule number for a striker of his stature.

The simple fact of the matter is Bacca's teammates aren't getting him the ball enough. There simply isn't enough creativity in the team to get him adequate service. The only real creative force in the team is Bonaventura. He has five assists this season. No one else on the team has more than one. It's totally unrealistic to expect one man to shoulder the entire burden every single game.

Milan's midfield is having so many problems they aren't even holding possession against higher-quality opposition. Against Juventus in November, he was hounded and harried by the Bianconeri's unequaled back line, but an equally important factor in that game was the fact Juve's midfield overran Milan's and totally strangled possession.

The result? A night when Bacca was held without a shot of any kind.

The fact he's scored six times so far this season given the kind of service he's been getting is actually remarkable. He's needed to be incredibly accurate just to get to that number.

Bacca has thus far been Milan's most potent goalscoring threat—and not just by default.  He's earned that position with the way he's played this year. He's sustained a high level of play, but he's being let down by the people around him.

The Rossoneri need Bacca to start scoring again. For that to happen, his teammates need to step up to get him the ball. Otherwise, he'll continue to stay dry—and Milan, nine points behind first-placed Internazionale, may lose even more ground on the leaders.

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