AC Milan vs. Carpi: Winners and Losers from Serie A
In what has been a season of multiple underwhelming performances, AC Milan reached a new low on Thursday night as they failed to break down a relegation-threatened Carpi.
After a game of few meaningful chances for either goalkeeper to deal with, the final score at the San Siro was 0-0.
The game represented Cristian Brocchi’s second in charge after his appointment as head coach following Sinisa Mihajlovic’s sacking, but he was unable to guide the Rossoneri to a second consecutive win.
Instead, his team looked painfully laboured as they struggled to open up a dogged Carpi defence, eventually running out of ideas entirely en route to a goalless draw.
Read on to find out who Bleacher Report’s winners and losers were in an uninspiring match.
Winner: Gaetano Letizia (Carpi)
Carpi’s team performance was one built on collective organisation, hard work and energy. Gaetano Letizia exemplified all of these traits with a relentless showing on the left flank.
Playing as his team’s left wing-back in a 3-5-1-1 system, the 25-year-old was tasked not only with keeping track of Milan right-back and speed merchant Ignazio Abate, but also with providing incision on the counter-attack.
Letizia stuck to both his defensive and counter-attacking tasks well throughout the match, winning five tackles, making five interceptions and completing one dribble, per WhoScored.com.
Fabrizio Castori has rejuvenated Carpi since being reappointed as head coach last November, and Letizia, with his selfless work ethic and constant running, continues to prove crucial to the club’s chances of staying in Serie A.
Loser: Kevin-Prince Boateng (Milan)
Kevin-Prince Boateng made his first league start for Milan since rejoining the club in January, but the Ghanaian failed to impact the game in any meaningful way from an attacking midfield position.
Brocchi persisted with the diamond midfield shape that had worked away to Sampdoria, though he moved Giacomo Bonaventura into a left-sided berth.
This switch made room for Boateng in the trequartista role, though he was unable to find space amid a cluster of bodies as Carpi defended deep and congested space between the lines.
According to Calciomercato.it (h/t Football Italia), the 29-year-old is playing for his Milan future, with his contract expiring in the summer. On the basis of Thursday night, he has a lot more to do to earn an extended deal.
Winner: Jose Mauri (Milan)
Milan required drive from their midfielders to break down Carpi’s banks of deep defence, though they didn’t possess this until the introduction of Jose Mauri on 61 minutes.
The 19-year-old, who was making only his second Serie A appearance for the club since joining last summer, displayed an offensive mentality and a willingness to take players on that his more experienced teammates simply didn’t show.
As well as making two tackles and one key pass, Mauri attempted four shots, per WhoScored. Incredibly, this was more than any other Milan player on the night.
The young Argentinian’s long-range passing was occasionally wayward, but his purposeful running and confidence on the ball was enough to suggest he deserves more regular involvement from now on.
Loser: Carlos Bacca (Milan)
Carlos Bacca cannot be faulted for his efforts on Thursday night. Milan’s top scorer received very little by way of quality service, rendering him relatively harmless.
The Colombian likes to play on the shoulder of the last man, though this was difficult against a defence as low as Carpi’s, with little space behind the visiting team’s back line to attack. To make matters worse, the Rossoneri’s movement off the ball was poor, making it harder for Bacca to isolate himself against a defender.
He perhaps did not deserve to be substituted, as he was on 69 minutes for Jeremy Menez, but his reaction to Brocchi’s decision was nonetheless disappointing. Visibly unhappy, he stormed off and down the tunnel without shaking his replacement’s hand.
After the game, his coach told Sky Sport Italia and Mediaset Premium (h/t Football Italia): "At that moment, he was in a trance for the match; he reacted badly, and it mustn’t happen again. At the end of the day, we need to work for a single objective and focus on the team, not ourselves as individuals. That is a very important rule."
Bacca’s goals are integral to Milan’s hopes of securing a European place for next season, but he will have to be more willing to accept tactical experimentation when things are not going the team’s way in future.
Winner: Jonathan De Guzman (Carpi)
With their focus on defensive negation, Carpi offered very little going forward. But, when they did look to launch attacking raids, Jonathan De Guzman was valuable.
The Dutchman showed some neat touches, positive movement and nice linkup play in his attempts to unlock Milan’s defence. He also shadowed Riccardo Montolivo well in a bid to disjoint the home side’s build-up play.
De Guzman’s career has faltered in recent years but, at 28 years old, he still has plenty to offer to a team like Carpi.