Three takeaways from Monza 4-2 AC Milan: Rossoneri squander chance to overtake Juventus, Pioli rotations backfire

AC Milan were surprisingly defeated by Monza on Serie A Matchday 25, failing to capitalise on a chance to go to second in the Serie A table and showing that their squad depth is an issue.

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AC Milan were defeated 4-2 by regional rivals Monza on Serie A Matchday 25, and the Rossoneri wasted an opportunity to leap into second place.

The Italian giants trailed at half-time after Matteo Pessina and Dany Mota scored for the Brianzoli. Luka Jovic receiving a red card did not prevent them from making a comeback in the second half with goals from substitutes Olivier Giroud and Christian Pulisic, but Warren Bondo and Lorenzo Colombo were able to give the Biancorossi the win.

AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli rotated his squad and it showed that his team is not as strong without his stars. This result might be costly as they try to secure qualification for the 2024/25 Champions League. In contrast, his Monza counterpart Raffaele Palladino can be grateful that his substitutes won the game for the Brianzoli in the end.

AC Milan may rue chance to surpass Juventus

Pioli decided to rotate his squad and this leaves his team in third place in the Serie A table. After Juventus were held to a 2-2 draw against Hellas Verona the day before, this would have been the best chance to have overtaken the Bianconeri, and it was squandered.

Perhaps the Rossoneri tactician was thinking of the Europa League tie with Rennes, and he is taking that competition seriously, but this was a good time to further secure Champions League qualification, especially with Juve failing to win in their last four Serie A matches.

Chasing Inter for the scudetto would be a huge stretch as AC Milan are now 11 points behind their city rivals. However, some extra breathing space in the Champions League would have helped.

Four Monza players try to hold off AC Milan left-back Theo Hernandez. (Photo: AC Monza Facebook.)

Pioli rotations hindered AC Milan

It has been illustrated in several matches this season that AC Milan can be formidable when they have their best team available. However, when Pioli needs to turn to his reserves or rotate his squad, the Rossoneri look significantly weaker and devoid of ideas.

The tactician decided to rest Rafael Leao, Tijjani Reijnders, Pulisic, and Giroud, but that two-goal deficit at half-time forced him to bring them on. Pulisic had a hand in both goals while Giroud scored the first, but their cameos were not enough to secure at least a point.

At the back, they were wide open, especially on the counter-attack. Matteo Gabbia and Malick Thiaw failed to form a strong partnership at the back, and the latter specifically had a shocker. Thiaw tripped Milan Djuric and wasn’t penalised, but when he tripped Mota just seconds later, he was punished and Monza took the lead with Pessina’s penalty.

Without their best players on the park, AC Milan played into the hands of Monza, who exposed the gaps left at the back by the Rossoneri. For Il Diavolo to return to winning ways, they need to usual suspects to bail them out.

Monza striker Lorenzo Colombo prepares to shoot against parent club AC Milan. (Photo: AC Monza Facebook.)

Monza substitutes seal the win

Although Mota played a vital part in Monza earning the half-time lead, he was substituted before Pulisic completed the comeback for AC Milan. Despite that, Palladino can be relieved that his substitutes, who came on before Mota was replaced, secured the late victory.

Bondo and Colombo replaced Valentin Carboni and Djuric after 66 minutes, not long after Giroud pulled a goal back for the Rossoneri, but their moments of glory came towards the end of the match.

Daniel Maldini, another Brianzoli substitute, passed the ball to Bondo, and from just outside of the box, the Frenchman fired a dipping shot into the net. Then, on the counter-attack, Colombo received a pass from Pessina, and calmly put the ball into the net.

Monza gave AC Milan headaches throughout the match, but when Palladino took players off, his players showed plenty of hunger. When coaching a provincial club and the players off the bench can make an impact against a big team, that is a very positive sign.

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