Frustrating Sampdoria a stalemate for Milan

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Fabio Muzzi/AFP/Getty ImagesAC Milan were all out of sorts in their scoreless draw versus Sampdoria.

"Milan didn't seem like they really wanted to win. Too many players underperformed today. It was a really poor Milan." Sky Italia regular and former Milan star Zvonimir Boban summed up Sunday night's 'performance' perfectly in his post-match analysis, after a completely inept display against Sampdoria.

- Match report: Sampdoria 0-0 Milan

Lacking desire, direction and urgency, it was almost as if time travel had become more than a mere dream and we were watching a rerun of the season opener at the San Siro. Even Edgar Davids was left mystified in his guest slot on ESPN UK, questioning whether the Milan players actually knew what they were supposed to be doing as they struggled to take control of the game.

The Rossoneri were similarly disappointing last weekend, with the three points against Siena papering over the issues. Without a victory to fall back on this time round, their incompetency was left open to criticism.

Massimiliano Allegri will shoulder his fair share of the blame, but the starting XI was littered with inadequate performances. Stephan El Shaarawy, Milan's saviour on so many occasions this season, was largely anonymous before his withdrawal in the second half. And while Bojan was no better, Mbaye Niang was perhaps the most promising player on the pitch.

With few options on the bench to save him, Allegri was guilty of two things. First, he was tactically outdone by his counterpart Delio Rossi. Sampdoria adapted to Milan's threat on the flanks, changing their system to prevent El Shaarawy and Niang from being given space to attack. Tiredness may well have been a factor, but Milan need to adjust and still have purpose when they attack instead of the lacklustre and sluggish tempo they displayed.

Second, his frustratingly questionable post-match reaction. While it is only natural to search for positives following a disappointing result, Allegri congratulated the side on keeping a clean sheet. He then noted that Bojan "always struggles when he’s playing alone up front". In that case, perhaps stop playing him there Max? There was always the option of playing Niang through the middle.

Yes, Milan played extra time during their midweek match, and yes, Sampdoria were buoyed by their win at Juventus last weekend. The Marassi always remains a difficult place to go, but the performance will be the source of anger and frustration more than the result itself.

The new look attacking trident will need time and patience for it to produce should they be given another opportunity next weekend at home against Bologna. However, there were far too many bystanders on Sunday night as Milan lacked conviction and direction to their play.

With Fiorentina and Roma both dropping points this weekend, Milan had an opportunity to close the gap on the top five. However, having been held by Sampdoria, they sit nine points adrift of Napoli in third place and must get straight back to winning ways.

Bologna, Atalanta, Udinese, Cagliari and Parma. The next five games are all arguably winnable, but with performances similar to Sunday night's, they might prove to be a little trickier than first thought.

Did Milan just have an off night or was Boban right to question the attitude as well as the performance? What was the key to the disappointing display?

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