PSG Milan

PSG-AC Milan Tactical Analysis: Skillful PSG forwards exploit Milan’s press


Group F is definitely the tasty pot-boiler everyone has their eyes on every Champions League matchday. A fixture like Paris vs AC Milan is something we could’ve easily got in the latter stages.

With Milan already drawing two games they could’ve easily won and PSG getting shocked at St James Park each fixture in the group is crucial.

It’s definitely worth unpacking how in the end PSG rang out pretty comfortable winners by manipulating Milan’s press:

For around the first 20 minutes, Milan’s press was good because of it’s intensity and aggression. The point of what Pioli’s men were trying to do is go man to man on PSG’s defence, with Giroud, Leao, Pulisic then the midfield options of Krunic, Musah and Reijnders marking off the midfield options.

By doing this Milan were looking to thwart PSG progressing the ball centrally. What they didn’t plan for or count on is just how skillful their attackers are and how well their midfield carries the ball out averting challenges in the process.

When the ball is played wide to Hakimi the press is man to man. However he can simply play it down the line to Dembele as Kolo Muani drags Theo Hernandez out of position.

It’s the same again less than 5 minutes in, on one side of the pitch Milan have gone man to man again, with their forward line and Kalulu at full-back on Vitinha. Mbappe drops for the ball receives, plays it to Zaire-Emery who’s excellent ball-carrying skills means he can drive past a couple of Milan challenges and find space.

This kept happening all game, it was the right idea to press PSG man for man, including the midfield the press just simply wasn’t aggressive enough and it becomes a detriment when you’re trying to press players who are skilful, strong and fearless on the ball. Let the press happen as below, Mbappe hovers into a tight pocket wide, as he receives Tomori looks to push up on him from behind and he can play it off to a midfielder.

From where Mbappe drops it off look at where PSG end up.

Not only has Mbappe lured the defenders in without them getting the ball, the midfield has had the intelligence to drive past Milan’s soft centre.

For the opening goal, Milan’s attack is man-marking PSG’s defence. When Vitinha has the ball wide Kalulu has pushed up on him with no real intensity. As the ball is played in to Zaire-Emery, Reijnders can’t even bring him down for a foul such is his strength. From there he can play Mbappe in and from that position the Frenchman is almost inevitable.

Perhaps what Pioli could’ve done differently is instead of pressing, drop deeper and form a block to play on the counter. Newcastle used almost the same gameplan, but their pressing and intensity in comparison is so much more, PSG couldn’t cope.

The gameplan was fine, the execution wasn’t.


Serie A obsessive.