Milan aim to break first-half bad habits
AC Milan’s slow starts to games are threatening to undo the team’s good work before Christmas and return them to the mid-table mediocrity of recent seasons.
Enduring their third campaign without Champions League football, Milan have been caught napping in their last three games, conceding two goals in the first half-hour of each match.
Despite spirited -- though not always successful -- fightbacks each time, their lapses have cost them precious points in the league and led to elimination from the Coppa Italia.
They will be hoping to avoid giving their opponents another head start when they visit Udinese tomorrow.
Vincenzo Montella’s side, just two points behind Serie A leaders Juventus after their win over the Turin side in October, have dropped to seventh, 11 points off the pace and seven adrift of Napoli in the Champions League playoff spot.
The run started 10 days ago when Milan hit back to draw 2-2 at Torino after going two goals behind in 25 minutes and surviving a missed penalty.
Last Saturday, they conceded two goals in the opening 10 minutes against Napoli in game that was crucial to their Champions League hopes.
Despite recovering well in the second half, they lost 2-1, leaving them well adrift of their third-place opponents and lowering their sights to the Europa League.
On Wednesday, they let in two goals in 21 minutes at Juventus in their cup quarter-final, before again fighting back well in the second half but still losing 2-1.
“If we played every game the way we do the last half-hour, we’d win a lot more often,” Montella told state broadcaster Rai after Wednesday’s game.
“We are improving and reducing the gap with the top teams but we still need time. They were two hard-fought matches and we must be proud of ourselves,” he added.
“Juventus and Napoli are two really strong sides and they’ve been working together for a long time”.
Borussia Dortmund striker, Emerick Pierre Aubameyang