Milan, Maignan is a penalty-keeper machine. The credit is also of a psychologist

MILAN – In the game probably duller than the Milan 2022 edition, ordinary in the attacking game that would be his strong point, the goalkeeper made the class play. And the decisive parade of Maignan on the rigor of Berardi confirmed the importance of Donnarumma’s successor. Mike, fundamental in the last championship, was also fundamental in Reggio Emilia, in the stadium of the nineteenth championship. A hundred days earlier he had celebrated with Nelson Dida, historical predecessor and his coach in the debut season in Italy. This time he did it with Flavio Roma, who replaced Dida in the post. His interlocutors in his daily work at Milanello have changed. The result has not changed: Maignan continues to hypnotize his opponents, because this is the twelfth penalty that he has foiled, since he has played in the European professional championships, with a percentage of 31%.

Maignan as Sommer

The figure recalls that of the colleague who helped to leave Italy out of the World Cup: Yann Sommerthirty-three year old goalkeeper from Switzerland and the Borussia Moenchengladbach, one who doesn’t get scared when the most celebrated shooters show up on the spot. They know something about it Mbappé to the European and the Costa Rican Ruiz at the World Cup, but also Sergio Ramos and unfortunately Jorginho twice. In total Sommer escaped 23 penalties. Maignan, who can already be listed among the famous hypnotized Salah, Depay And Radamel Falcaor, he is on the right track, being 7 years younger than the Swiss. Sommer, in training, cleared the special stroboscopic glasses, to improve reflexes. There is no evidence of Maignan’s use of similar devices. But in the analytical rankings on Serie A goalkeepers he is at the top for reaction time.

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Spider, a psychologist for everyone

His real secret, however, is the maniacality in everyday work. His 14 clean sheets of 2022 (the English term now universally translates the more stately concept of “clean sheet”) are also thanks to the excellent defensive department, but not only. At Milanello, Maignan’s long discussion with Dida about a type of save – the side jump with a push, on a close-up ball that bounces – has become an anecdote then put into practice on the pitch. In this regard, the anger expressed by the French goalkeeper for the sudden departure of the coach is known, when for personal reasons, a few days before the July 2022 meeting, Dida was forced to return temporarily to Brazil.

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Maignan, from Dida to Flavio Roma

Student Mike would have liked to continue working with teacher Nelson. But in a short time he established a profitable relationship with Flavio Roma, a former goalkeeper of excellent level (3 appearances in the national team with Lippi ct, a Champions League final with the Monaco shirt and 20 penalties without goals conceded in his career, complete with a Figo in the quarter-finals against Real Madrid) who was himself as a player at Milanello. Rome boasts a linguistic wild card: having spent 10 seasons in Monaco, he speaks perfect French. The great joker of Milan then remains the other goalkeeper coach: Gigi Ragno, the lowest common denominator for both Dida and Rome, which combines the instinctive skills of empathy in interpersonal relationships with technical preparation. It is no coincidence that he made it the subject of his thesis, presented in Coverciano in 2020. He is a psychologist for everyone.

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Maignan, the long cast as a last resort

Another characteristic of Maignan is also known that is particularly requested by goalkeepers in contemporary football: precision in the game with his feet, which even led him to assist. But in the home of Sassuolo his long pass, used when the goal did not want to arrive, seemed more like the classic last resort. In the 0-0 in Reggio Emilia, in fact, there are two news items and they all lead back to the same analysis, if the mere statistical data and the lost leadership in the standings that was in crowded cohabitation are scratched off the surface, however, the Milan fans still made a good ‘effect. The first news is that Milan did not score: it had not happened since last April 10 with Turin. The second is that on the fourth day he has not yet won away: this is a rarity, given that in the era of the pandemic but also of the post lockdown football they had now definitively sent the old English media into the attic, born at the time of the victory. from two points: with the draws away from home and the successes at home, you could generally take home the league titles. If Sacchi with his revolution had eradicated this pivotal assumption of Italian football, Pioli has really transformed it into antiques, given the performance of his team, often better away from San Siro.

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De Ketelaere emergency center forward

But if you just scratch off the surface of the speech – at Mapei the Milan fans were far more than those of Sassuolo and the environment was anything but hostile – the outcome of this sui generis away match, added to the 1-1 of Bergamo on the second day, leads to the same tactical conclusion: the difficulty of scoring the opponents who know how to block the sources of Pioli’s game and in particular Theo Hernandez. This time, but it had already happened a bit with Atalanta while at San Siro Udinese and Bologna masochistically offered him the prairies, his percussions from the band towards the center end up further clogging the most populated area of ​​the field and creating a little tactical paradox. Pioli’s Milan tries to attack with the greatest possible number of players, including full backs, and for this reason accepts the risk of one-on-one on the counterattack of the opponents, thanks to very strong central defenders in anticipation and tackles and universal midfielders. The engagement of the defender Thiaw (in many ways Tomori’s double) seems to obey this requirement, as indeed the negotiation for Vranckxone who wins almost all the contrasts of the game and who can approach the identikit of the precious Kessié, who leaves Barcelona.

But if Hernandez systematically ends up in the funnel and if the enormous potential of the AC Milan attack dissolves due to the absences of the injured (Origi and Rebicin addition to Ibrahimovic), due to the lack of talent of the interpreters (Leao, Giroud, Diaz, Saelemaekers) and for the discomfort of the protagonists announced in another role (De Ketelaere, attacking midfielder, was advanced with poor results at the center forward precisely because Pioli with the exit of Giroud had finished the pure center forward), Milan becomes predictable. It is now up to the derby, which Inter faces a point ahead after the counter-pass, to clarify whether Sassuolo and Atalanta were only two physiological slowdowns, due to the compressed calendar.