Welcome to the 5 Things recap by theScore's Anthony Lopopolo, which highlights AC Milan's performances over the 2018-19 season. Here's a breakdown of Milan's 1-1 stalemate versus Parma.
Another letdown in a winnable game
Nothing new here. Everyone knows Milan have a hard time winning the games they're supposed to win. And those struggles continued Saturday at Parma, where the Rossoneri again dropped points to a beatable foe. They've now had hiccups against Cagliari, Empoli, Bologna, Frosinone, Udinese, and Parma - all teams in the bottom half of the Serie A table. That's just not good enough. Milan tend to play down to their opponents, and it's that mentality that could cost them the Champions League.
Too many struggles in the final third
For the umpteenth time this season, Milan had no plan of attack, often wasting time in search of an opening. Whether it's the tactics or a lack of confidence, something holds these players back. They couldn't find a way through Parma's back five, only scoring when substitute Samu Castillejo connected on Suso's only meaningful cross into the penalty area. The problem is that Milan created few chances of note, putting just three of their 15 shots on net.
Gattuso makes one change too many
Gennaro Gattuso's first two changes were positive and aggressive. Knowing Milan needed a goal, the manager threw on Patrick Cutrone and switched to a 4-4-2 formation. It was his usual back-up plan. However, minutes later, Gattuso ordered a back three, with Castillejo and Suso alternating on the right wing.
The changes caught Parma off guard. Milan seemed to play with more conviction, running into the channels and creating space. Once his team had the lead, Gattuso reverted to a 4-4-2, withdrawing the ineffective Hakan Calhanoglu for Lucas Biglia. The Argentine struggled to match the pace of the game and earned a yellow card for his troubles. Parma sensed this and attacked. Then the tiring Fabio Borini, who had to play several positions, committed the foul that led to Bruno Alves' sensational free-kick. There was just too much panicking here.
Zapata keeps Gervinho at bay
Cristian Zapata was smart and responsible in his first start since January, clearing the lines when necessary and, more importantly, keeping up with Gervinho's zany runs. Zapata has always been a great servant to Milan, filling in whenever called upon, so it's no surprise to see him play this well after such a long injury layoff. He's out of contract at the end of the season, but based on his performances this season, it would be foolish to let him walk away.
Piatek looks better beside Cutrone
Without quality service, it's unfair to expect Krzysztof Piatek to score every match. He couldn't do much against Parma's back five, and that's not his fault. Piatek only came to life when Cutrone joined the attack, giving the Polish international someone to play off of. Cutrone diverted the attention of Parma's defenders, who had spent all match blocking out Piatek. A marginal, if correct, offside call on Piatek denied Milan a second goal, but there's no doubting that he was more productive with another striker by his side.