Stefano Pioli made several changes to his Milan starting line-up against SPAL and it gave others a chance to impress as we advanced in the Coppa Italia.
Many were enforced due to injuries, while he stuck with the 4-4-2 system and adjusted accordingly in terms of personnel to get the win and make it two victories on the bounce.
Time will tell who recovers to face Udinese on Sunday, but four players in particular made their case for a more prominent role in the win.
It was a relatively straight-forward debut in truth as SPAL didn’t pose a genuine threat for most of the game and so there will be tougher tests ahead.
That said, he dealt with what was thrown at him on the night just days after arriving and officially becoming a Milan player, and he impressed with his reading of the game, awareness and positioning.
Mateo Musacchio has been prone to making mistakes and suffering with lapses in concentration. With his experience in mind too, Kjaer may well have given Pioli something to think about.
A top performance capped off with a superb goal, the Spaniard has impressed in his last two outings now as he also grabbed an assist in the win over Cagliari.
Suited to the 4-4-2 system on the right wing, he offers a flawless work-rate and puts in a brilliant shift defensively every time he steps on the pitch as he simply doesn’t stop running.
However, we still need to see more consistency from him as he had his moments against SPAL where he fluffed his line too. If he can address that, he could have a major role to play between now and the end of the season while keeping Suso out the XI this weekend.
Things started off well for the Croatian international, as he looked a threat peeling off to the left flank and running at defenders to make the most of his pace and technical quality.
However, it started to go wrong for him as the game went on as the sloppy mistakes crept back in and he started to lose confidence.
Nevertheless, there was arguably enough in that performance to suggest that there is life still in him to prove himself worthy of being at Milan, and especially if Rafael Leao isn’t firing, he can offer similar attributes in the final third to step in when necessary.
Following Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s return, it would be easy to see Piatek fade into the background, lose his starting berth and be restricted to a bit-part role. That’s assuming he doesn’t leave this month, with the Daily Mail linking Sevilla and Tottenham with a swoop.
That said, he provided a timely reminder of what he’s capable of with his goal against SPAL and he added an assist for good measure.
Provide Piatek with the right service and make the most of his strengths, namely his ability to play off the shoulder of the last defender and get in behind defences to set up chances where he can be clinical, and we could see the striker we signed last season make a return.
With that in mind, he could be a vital piece in the puzzle still if we need a different type of threat in the final third alongside Ibrahimovic. Pioli can tinker slightly and drop the Swede back into a more creative role with Piatek playing off him. The Ibrahimovic-Leao partnership looks very promising, but one involving Piatek could be equally as effective too.