Sunday, 3 May 2015

Napoli vs Milan :The importance of width and movement.

The Milan game plan went out the window when just a minute into the game Mattia De Sciglio gets sent off after a mistimed tackle . This was now an intriguing 10 v 11 battle which has defence vs attack written all over it and so it was.

Milan reacted by changing their 4-3-3 to a 4-4-1 moving Poli a centre midfielder to RB this would be higlighted a few times in the game were he failed to track runners or was poor positionally (i.e playing opposition onside). Napoli however were in there standard 4-2-3-1 and carried on playing there natural way defending deep but naturally saw more of the ball.

Napoli lack of width and restrictions out wide.

Napoli were very cautious out wide in the first half  not allowing their fullbacks to push higher up. The play was very centrally with no vertical movement in between the lines to try and pull Milan out of position,create space in front, offer depth and/or entice players to press.

This was a problem and it meant the front 3 and Hamsik had to go and search for the ball. Often dropping deep or trying to create space for themselves or pulling outwide were no overlap option was being offered.

Milan were content on leaving Higuain against the centrebacks 2v1 now he wanted to play with the 2 Dm's to increase the movement up front in a bid to unlock them.

Lack of width meant no penetration in the first half. No-one offering overlapping runs giving the defending team something to think about i.e should i press or stay , track runner or not? Napoli had enough defensive coverage due to the 2 Dms positioned deep so the fullbacks not pushing up as well just resulted in possession being forced through the deep centre and along the back line. We didnt see enough of these runs especially from Maggio who is excellent at them with a good end product.

Well organised Milan.

Milan were really well organised considering they only had 10 men. They kept their concentration really well especially in the first half . Their understanding of each others defensive whereabouts i.e when the Lb presses the Lm dropped in to protect the space they did this time and time again. Below is just a great example of there organisation.

Napoli up the tempo, Increase the width and press higher up in the second half.

Napoli up the tempo and start to get the ball to the flanks with overlapping runs and creating good opportunities dragging the Milan players out wide leaving the centre free at times.

Napoli used to defending narrow attacks from Napoli are now having to adjust and adapt to more width with a quicker tempo with movement from strikers and fullbacks out wide. This resulted in the ball being played in the space in the middle then a through pass which should have been put away.

At this stage due to the width the game was starting to open up for Napoli who were finally getting in space but at times was let down by a final pass or shot with lack of quality. Eventually the scored and Milan crumbled mentally.


This game highlights the importance of width in the modern game especially when trying to open up a team packing there midfield and sitting deep. All in Milan weren't really a threat going forward hardly offered anything apart from maybe 2 occasion (a cross and a missed shot.) Napoli however had plenty of the ball but couldn't find an opening until they the increased the width, movement (releasing their fullbacks further forward) and increased the tempo which the ball was passed at to throw Milan off and force unpredictability.

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