Mattia De Sciglio | A.C. Milan is historically one of the most decorated football clubs. Now, they are struggling to find balance in the team and the situation at the club is undesirable for their fans to say the least. They have been confronted with failure and thus started a new chapter with their legendary player, Clarence Seedorf. New names, new staff members even maybe a new board will arrive but success at Milan, at least in the short term seems increasingly unlikely.
After starting his football education with Cimiano, Mattia De Sciglio joined AC Milan’s youth ranks to continue his development into a professional football. After spending much of his time with the AC Milan II team, he was finally promoted to the first-team, initially just for training sessions.
His debut came against Czech side Viktoria Plzen in the 2011/12 campaign, when he came on as a late substitute in the Champions League for a cameo appearance. Four days later he was named on the bench for Milan’s huge tie against Juventus in the Serie A but didn’t feature. In the midst of a few bench appearances, his next game came again against the same Czech side in the last group game as he started and finished the full 90 in a 2-2 draw. That season also marked his first appearance for the Italian U-21 side, in a 7-0 win over Liechtenstein, while he also played regularly for the U-20 side.
De Sciglio’s breakthough came in the 2012/13 season, as he became a regular in AC Milan’s side, playing on either flank and even at centre-back against Siena. The Italian youngster made 33 appearances for AC Milan in all competitions, also getting 3 assists to his name. More importantly, his regular run of games with Milan earned him a call-up to the national team, earning his first cap in a World Cup qualifier vs Malta and providing an assist for Balotelli as he played the entire 90.
The national set-up was so impressed with Mattia De Sciglio that he was named in Italy’s Confederations Cup squad, playing in every minute in four of Italy’s five games as the first-choice left-back. The only game he missed was against Spain in the semis as Prandelli shifted to a three-man defensive line.
Injuries have ravaged his 2013/14 campaign in a poor AC Milan showing. When fit, he is Milan’s first-choice right-back and remains the only youngster to play regularly in Milan’s pseudo youth policy.
Italian defenders have always been highly rated. Maldini, Nesta and Zambrotta are just few legendary names. Perhaps De Sciglio won’t be able to reach their level but he is definitely a more than decent right back. Despite primarily being deployed on the right side of defence at Milan, he is capable of playing at left-back and has done so for the national side.
Let us start with his technical attributes. Passing, ball control and first touches are certainly up to the mark. Last season he had a 84% pass completion rate. He is good at controlling long passes which allows his team to change the direction of the game. A couple of times he has created a chance for strikers with brilliant first touches.
In my opinion, Mattia De Sciglio’s biggest strength is his defensive contribution where he is shrewd, formidable and stern. Full backs are meant to shoulder offensive duties as much as defensive ones and one can point to his attacking frailty as a drawback but as a defender he is certainly impressive. Clearances, interceptions and tackles are commendable. Positional knowledge in terms of defence is immense. Although his height is good for a defender, he is weak in the air and his contribution in set pieces is limited both in attack and defence. This season, he won only 50% of aerial duels which for a defender isn’t the best stat.
Physically he has enough power to deal with wingers and strikers. Although, he has sufficient stamina, power and balance his speed and acceleration leaves a little to be desired.
As mentioned previously, Mattia De Sciglio’s biggest weakness is his ability to contribute offensively. He only prefers to hug the touch line and even if he cuts inside, he lacks the cutting edge. He needs to learn how to be more effective. Interestingly when he plays as left back mostly he tends to cut inside. As a left back his defensive duties are same but his attacking game is quite different. He tends to cut inside and is able to provide asissts. However, he has to embellish his attacking variations. As I said before he mostly tends to hug the touch line but his crossing isn’t good enough. All the great full backs have some common characteristics and crossing is definitely a box that is ticked more often than not. De Sciglio’s crosses are decent but decent is not good enough if you want to become a top level full back like Cafu or Dani Alves. This lack of versatility in attack makes him predictable and experienced defenders can easily curtail any attacking threat posed by him.
He also needs to find a way to combine the components of his game. Apparently, he doesn’t know how to do it. He is clinical at defence but opposite in the attack. Inconsistency could prevent the ascent of his career.
Well, at Milan, currently Honda plays close to right wing which restricts De Sciglio’s limited attacking contribution. I mentioned that his versatility is limited when it comes to attacking variations and he needs to play alongside with a Robben type of player. Why? Robben always manages to provide free spaces for full backs. This type of player who tends to cut inside and is fast could improve De Sciglio’s attacking contribution. Above all, Mattia De Sciglio should work on his individual skills. Once again, he has to learn to occupy more central positions from time to time.
Under Clarence Seedorf, Mattia De Sciglio will have more attacking duties as Seedorf has promised attacking football to the board and the fans. He needs to gratify Seedorf with his attacking improvement to protect his spot in the starting eleven. Expectations will improve soon with new transfers and pressure will grow on his, still admittedly young, shoulders. He needs to meet the expectation of a right back of A. C. Milan.
“The Milan full-back will be making his debut for the Azzurri this summer continuing his steady rise. De Sciglio came up through the Milan youth system, making his first team debut in 2011 while becoming a regular on both flanks of the Milan defense. His versatility is not the only thing that has many likening him to the great Paolo Maldini, Mattia De Sciglio has featured in all roles in defense for Milan over the last two seasons, although he says he prefers the right-back role, on his natural foot. Capable of holding an entire flank on his own, De Sciglio is a modern full-back in the truest sense.”
— Pete Acquaviva. Serie A TalkSport correspondent. Follow him on twitter @PDAcquaviva
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