On Serie A's Matchday 19, mid-table Empoli faced off against title hopefuls AC Milan at Carlo Castellani Stadium. Despite AC Milan being heavy favorites, Empoli gave themselves every chance to come away with all three points, further proving their recent statement win against Napoli was no fluke.
“Win your individual battles”. This is the mantra of a manager employing man-on-man marking. Win the battle on restarts, when isolated, and with or without the ball. This is because 1v1 success inevitably increases the likelihood of 11v11 victory. And so, paired with each tactical posturing is this personal pursuit. With the many dynamic, dribbling attackers and foul-catching cameras in the modern era, sometimes these 1v1 situations in dangerous areas are seen as a shortcoming or an ill-advised 50:50 from the defending side. Seemingly, to a certain extent, AC Milan and Inter Milan beg to differ.
April 20, 2021, will go down in history as the day when European football was saved, and in large part, saved by the fans of the game. Sir Matt Busby famously said, "Football is nothing without the fans", and it was proven right when fans of all Premier League clubs involved in the creation of the Real Madrid led European Super League protested against their own clubs and owners. Liverpool fans took down banners inside the stadium and replaced them with protest banners outside the stadium instead and fans of Chelsea FC took to the streets to protest before their match against Brighton & Hove Albion, even prompting club legend Petr Cech to jump off the team bus and plead with them to move out of the way. The owners of the six English clubs got the message loud and clear, "WE DO NOT WANT THE SUPER LEAGUE." This is how fans stopped the European Super League from happening.
In the Serie A 2020-21 season, AC Milan showed great promise and performances, having their best season in over a decade. Pioli’s tactics were spot on throughout the season, with the players on the field coming to life in surprising ways. The likes of Davide Calabria, Theo Hernandez and Rafael Leao have all had their best seasons as professional players this season but here we shed light on one of the most important players to the Milan system – 39-year old Swedish veteran Zlatan Ibrahimovic.