As stressed by coach Marco Giampaolo on several occasions prior to Tuesday’s encounter with Bayern, Milan’s first pre-season outing was more about the performance than the result.
Naturally, it would be ideal if we were to collect some important victories along the way, but ultimately at this stage of the year coupled with countless other factors that come into play, it’s about improving fitness levels and implementing ideas ahead of the new campaign.
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From only having around a fortnight to work with the players to key individuals still missing after extended breaks over the summer to a string of injury issues prior to the game in Kansas.
Couple that with Bayern being significantly ahead of us in terms of their fitness and preparations too, the Rossoneri arguably did well in the 1-0 defeat.
Nevertheless, there were some stand-out talking points that emerged from the game, including the five below as Giampaolo can take many positives away.
Theo Hernandez impressive
It was unfortunate that an ankle injury cut his performance short, but the 21-year-old was superb before that as he defended well and constantly bombed forward to attack down the left flank in the opening 40 minutes.
His energy, tenacity and quality in the final third showed what a potentially crucial signing he could be, and it’s hoped that his injury isn’t serious as he’ll be eager to build on his impressive start at Milan to ensure he’s fully fit and raring to go for the new season.
Matteo Gabbia shows promise
Still only 19 years of age, he showed excellent composure and solidity at the back with the experience of Ivan Strinic alongside him helping throughout.
While he’s still raw and will need to continue to develop his game, Gabbia deservedly earned praise from Giampaolo in his post-match interview and if he continues to impress through pre-season, he may well stake a claim to remain in the Milan squad this year instead of being shipped out on loan.
Nevertheless, perhaps gaining experience and playing time over the next 10 months could benefit him more so and so an important decision will need to be taken.
Maldini legacy continues
After Cesare and Paolo, it’s now Daniel Maldini’s chance to shine in a Milan shirt and live up to his name and the expectations that come with it.
As noted in the statistic below, he became the youngest outfield player that Milan have started in an ICC game, and he showed glimpses of quality during his display while also going close to breaking the deadlock in the first half but he couldn’t quite direct his effort into the top corner.
Similarly to Gabbia, it’s unlikely that the pair will be able to secure prominent roles in the more immediate future, but they have certainly started pre-season on a positive note and will be giving Giampaolo something to think about as the Maldini legacy goes on.
17 – Daniel #Maldini (17 years e 286 days) is the youngest AC Milan’s outfield player to start a match in International Champions Cup. Dinasty. pic.twitter.com/QBc53YVkyv
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) July 24, 2019
Early days for Giampaolo’s ideas
As noted above, it’s still far too early to be making any judgements or in-depth assessments on Milan’s performance and Giampaolo’s influence on the squad thus far.
Perhaps we’ll see more of the hard work that has been done behind the scenes on Sunday against Benfica, but for now we’ve seen glimpses of what the Italian tactician is trying to implement as we played some intricate football at times and the two full-backs constantly pushed forward to provide width.
Naturally, with fitness levels nowhere near where they need to be yet, the passing became a bit loose and less accurate as the game went on, but Giampaolo can be pleased with the positives.
Clear areas in which to improve
Alessio Romagnoli, Mateo Musacchio and Suso are all expected to feature next time out, while we’ll have to wait a little longer to see Giacomo Bonaventura, Mattia Caldara, Rade Krunic, Lucas Paqueta, Franck Kessie and Ismael Bennacer come into contention, with Pianeta Milan noting the Algerian ace was at Casa Milan this week to put pen to paper on his contract.
They will add more experience and quality to the defence and midfield, while La Gazzetta dello Sport report that Milan are still expected to secure a deal to sign Angel Correa from Atletico Madrid, with the Argentine international tipped to be the ideal partner for Krzysztof Piatek.
With that in mind, there’s no need to panic about the result or the negatives in this performance, as put into context, it was arguably a decent outing in general in the circumstances as Giampaolo and Milan will hope to go from strength to strength the closer we get to the new season with his style of play and identity becoming more prominent game by game.
🗣 Here's what Coach Giampaolo had to say after our opening match in the #ICC2019 👉🏼 https://t.co/3fBKt4pRrZ
🗣 L'analisi post-partita di Mister Giampaolo al termine di #BayernMilan 👉🏼 https://t.co/Cl1ZFh5lT9#FollowTheFlames pic.twitter.com/Ug5Hj44I8m
— AC Milan (@acmilan) July 24, 2019