Clueless Milan Shot Themselves in Foot Against Stubborn Cagliari

Milan’s hopes of returning to the Champions League following a seven-year absence have suffered a massive blow as Cagliari walked away from the San Siro with a point.

The Rossoneri desperately needed all three points to solidify their position in the Serie A top-four race but could only manage a goalless draw against the stubborn visitors. Ahead of the kick-off, Milan were level on points with Juventus and one adrift of Napoli.

Stefano Pioli’s men needed a victory to all but secure Champions League football. However, the seven-time European Cup winners succumbed to pressure against a well-knit Cagliari team, who had ensured another season in top-flight football earlier today when Benevento played out a 1-1 draw with Crotone.

Even though the match was nothing more than a mere formality for the Sardinians, they refused to lower their guard and managed to avoid defeat against clueless Milan for the first time after four consecutive Serie A losses. 

In a tight, keenly-contested fixture where both sides tried not to concede, Milan struggled to create enough opportunities. Pioli’s players looked tired, lethargic, and short of enthusiasm as they barely did anything meaningful to penetrate Leonardo Semplici’s rock-solid backline.  In a bore first half, the home side had one decent opportunity as Alessio Cragno pulled off a fantastic save to deny Alexis Saelemaekers’ powerful attempt from just outside the box.

Predominately oriented on keeping a clean sheet, Cagliari did not produce a single shot inside the first 45 minutes of play. However, things changed after half-time as Semplici’s side began to move forward and ask questions in Milan’s opening third.

In fact, Cagliari wasted the best chances of the game.  Leonardo Pavoletti got behind Simon Kjaer to get on the end of Joao Pedro’s inch-perfect cross but only to direct his close-range header straight into Gianluigi Donnarumma. The 22-year-old goalkeeper came up big again to thwart Diego Godin’s towering header with the save of the night.

After missing their opportunities, Cagliari retrieved their bodies deep into their own territory, allowing Milan to control the possession. But the Rossoneri had no idea what to do with the ball, even though Pioli tried to shake things up a bit by introducing Rafael Leao, Samu Castillejo, Diogo Dalot, and Mario Mandzukic. 

Hakan Calhanoglu’s weak long-range effort, easily caught by Cragno, was the hosts’ only attempt on target in the second half.  It is fair to say that Milan shot themselves in the foot on Sunday night as they next face a formidable challenge in the shape of Atalanta.

Heading into the final weekend, the Rossoneri need to at least avoid defeat in Bergamo and hope one between Juventus and Napoli will fail to win their matches.  



May 16, 2021 – Serie A 2020-21 Round 37

MILAN (4-2-3-1): G. Donnarumma; Calabria (63′ Diogo Dalot), Kjaer, Tomori, Hernandez; Bennacer (63′ Meité), Kessie; Saelemaekers (46′ Rafael Leao), Brahim Diaz (57′ Castillejo), Calhanoglu (89′ Mandzukic); Rebic (Tatarusanu, Kalulu, Romagnoli, Maldini, Tonali, Hauge, Krunic) Coach: Pioli
CAGLIARI (3-4-2-1): Cragno; Ceppitelli (86′ Klavan), Godin, Carboni (88′ Rugani); Nandez, Marin (78′ Duncan), Deiola (87′ Asamoah), Lykogiannis; Nainggolan, Joao Pedro; Pavoletti (78′ Cerri) (Aresti, Vicario, Tripaldelli, Tramoni, Sottil, Zappa, Simeone) Coach: Semplici

REFEREE: Mr. Massa from Imperia
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Kjaer, Calabria (M), Marin, Carboni (C); Extra Time: 1st Half 2′, 2nd Half 5′