Milan secured a 2-0 win over Genoa on Monday afternoon with Fabio Borini and Suso scoring the goals in an eerily-empty Marassi.
After the kick-off time was brought forward due to safety reasons, it resulted in a lower than expected attendance which undoubtedly took something away from the encounter in terms of atmosphere.
Nevertheless, the Rossoneri claimed all three points which was the most important thing as we started 2019 in Serie A with a victory, while it also moved us back into fourth place in the standings. Here are five key points from our win;
Performance level must still improve
Although we showed a more clinical edge in the second half to take our chances and seal the victory, we started slow again in the opening 45 minutes and came under intense pressure just before half-time.
Against a more prolific side, we could easily have been punished and would have been staring more dropped points in the face. The win was undoubtedly the most important thing, but in order to secure a top-four finish, we still have to be much more convincing and play with urgency as well as having a direction and strategy when on the ball as we looked devoid of ideas and quality in the final third.
Donnarumma puts in decisive display
While he’s been in fine form for some time now, Donnarumma produced a crucial performance on Monday to keep a clean sheet after pulling off several key saves.
Without his interventions, particularly in the first half, we would have been chasing the game and in a very tricky position. However, from his shot-stopping to deny Miguel Veloso’s fierce effort to the brilliant double save when it looked as though Daniel Bessa had a tap-in, the 19-year-old was equal to everything thrown at him.
Conti’s creative impact crucial
After setting up Borini’s opener, that’s now two assists in his last three appearances having now recovered from his injury woes. Although Cristian Zapata’s setback saw him come on earlier than expected, Conti is surely now pushing for a starting berth as his fitness continues to improve.
It’s a good headache to have in that he’ll face stiff competition from Davide Calabria, while Ignazio Abate looks as though he should have been playing as a centre-half years ago.
Nevertheless, Conti’s creative and attacking ability will bring a new dynamic to the team, as he offers width and a great delivery from the right flank, as shown in the build-up to the first goal.
Bakayoko puts in another top display
The way in which he has turned his loan spell around deserves an enormous amount of credit. From continuing to face fierce criticism and question marks over whether or not he’d even last a couple of months with us, Bakayoko has now established himself as a beast in our midfield.
Physically strong and powerful to offer a defensive shield in front of the backline while using his athleticism and agility to make driving runs forward, he is offering a fundamental presence in our midfield currently.
It’s hoped that he can maintain this level of performance, while he’s making a case to perhaps keep Lucas Biglia out of the side when he returns from injury. Perhaps the pair could play alongside each other in our midfield three, which raises questions over Franck Kessie’s spot in the line-up.
Paqueta growing into key piece already
While he showed some of that Brazilian flair with his flick which went viral on social media, the 21-year-old is making such a promising impact given this was only his third appearance for us.
His movement off the ball to find space and make himself available is great to see, as is his strength and composure in possession while he isn’t afraid to get stuck in either.
He went close twice to scoring his first goal for the club, and that is ultimately all that is missing now as he has undoubtedly improved the quality level of our midfield already.
Gattuso must go more offensive in these games
Albeit not on the sidelines for this one, Gattuso went with both Paqueta and Hakan Calhanoglu in midfield. While the latter sadly failed to deliver for the most part again, it did offer a more creative and attacking presence in that area of the pitch to help us keep possession and remain a threat.
Whether it was Paqueta’s runs forward or Calhanoglu’s switching of the play to the right flank, the pair were important in a game where we had plenty of the ball and that helped us eventually break Genoa down.
Kessie will return from suspension against Napoli this weekend, and it wouldn’t come as a surprise if he goes straight back into the line-up with Calhanoglu perhaps moved over to the left. However, in games where we know we’ll be pressing and the onus is on us to take control of proceedings, the more creativity in the middle of the pitch the better.