Milan escape Turin with a point

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Valerio Pennicino/Getty ImagesMario Balotelli continued his automatic form from the penalty spot to earn Milan a late 2-2 draw at Torino.

In scenes reminiscent of the beginning of last season, Milan struggled to produce in a dire affair as Torino took a two-goal lead at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday night. However, despite a fight-back which concluded with a last-gasp Mario Balotelli penalty, it doesn’t mask the bitterly disappointing performance.

Following the return of the No.22, Kaka was immediately restored to the Rossoneri line-up, with Massimiliano Allegri switching to the much talked about 4-3-1-2 system. Yet just as the Brazilian struggled to really influence the game, Milan as a whole generally looked uncomfortable through the tactical transition.

- Match report: Torino 2-2 Milan

Having relied so heavily on width for the past year with two wingers in a 4-3-3 set-up, the narrowness of Milan's play ensured that they became predictable.

In turn, their play was consistently broken up, and Torino emerged as a threat on the counter-attack and deservedly took the lead as they took advantage of both sloppiness in midfield and a lack of pace in defence.

Injuries also conspired against Milan, with Riccardo Montolivo leaving the game prematurely with a hamstring strain, while the need for Ignazio Abate and Stephan El Shaarawy to provide some sort of width was desperately apparent.

Nevertheless, perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the display was the deficiency in composure and creativity in the middle, with a trio of midfielders unable to take control of the game and maintain possession.

With Montolivo likely to be ruled out of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Celtic, it is unlikely Allegri will turn to Bryan Cristante for some much needed inventiveness. Instead, the tempo will again be slowed down to suit the pace of this current crop of combative individuals who lack imagination and sufficient movement.

Nigel De Jong continues to prove his importance to the side with his positioning and brilliant ability to read the play, but do Milan really require Sulley Muntari beside him too? Perhaps they do when looking at the defensive line, which will potentially need further protection over the coming weeks.

Nevertheless, Andrea Poli's introduction undoubtedly added some much needed attacking impetus as his runs added another dimension to the Rossoneri's play, culminating in him earning the late penalty.

As for Kaka, it is both difficult and unfair to make an assessment of his first performance back in Milan colours. The 31-year-old showed determination and intensity, and with his match fitness and sharpness continuing to improve, it is likely that his creative skills will come to the fore.

Allegri emphasised the need for Milan to "rediscover our balance" in his post-game interview with Sky Sport Italia, and conceded that the defence is too soft. So what is the solution? A stagnant and defence-minded midfield will possibly help patch up the inefficiencies, but it also neglects the need for control and invention in midfield.

Will the switch back to a 4-3-1-2 system work? Are Milan hindered in midfield due to a weak defence?

For all the latest Milan and Serie A news, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty


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