Milan produced a superb performance on Saturday night as we secured a 3-0 win over Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico with countless positives to take from the game.
After the disappointment in midweek having been held by SPAL, the Rossoneri bounced back in style with victory against the Scudetto contenders, and it gives us an ideal boost heading into the Juventus clash on Tuesday.
While there were a number of topics that were up for discussion, there were undoubtedly some stand-out takeaways from the encounter in Rome as we picked up another clean sheet and return home with all three points.
Impressive nature of victory
After the frustration in midweek at SPAL, Milan responded brilliantly as they got the better of a side in second place in the Serie A table with Stefano Pioli getting his changes right.
While the hosts enjoyed a dangerous period just after half-time, we made it very difficult for them to find a way through our organised and solid defensive set-up, and we were clinical when we had chances.
Admittedly, there was some fortune involved in the opening two goals, but Milan forced their own luck by showing quality and conviction in their attacking play and it led to what was a hugely impressive win.
Invention and composure in final third
Last time out, we peppered the SPAL goal with shots from distance and it ultimately contributed to our setback as we were too one-dimensional and didn’t show enough quality or patience in our play.
As seen in the build-up play to Hakan Calhanoglu’s opener as well as what led to winning the penalty for the second and finally Giacomo Bonaventura’s assist for Ante Rebic to wrap the game up, we were a lot more patient, showed good vision and execution to carve open better opportunities to find goals.
It was effectively the difference between the two sides as while Lazio will bemoan the absence of talisman Ciro Immobile, we didn’t allow them to find space or have time in our third and it limited their threat significantly.
Winning in two different ways
What made Saturday night’s win all the more impressive was that we won playing two very different ways with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Rebic respectively leading the line either side of half-time.
In the first half, we stood off Lazio a lot more and then pressed and applied pressure as they broke into midfield and attack, and that ultimately nullified their threat for the most part. Further, with Ibrahimovic dropping back, we had good spells of possession and as we grew in confidence in attack, we carved out our chances.
In contrast, with Rebic coming on at the break, we went back to a higher energy style of play as we pressed from the front with Lucas Paqueta and Alexis Saelemaekers also doing well and that allowed us to go on and kill the game and seal the three points with Lazio still being kept relatively quiet barring that initial period in the second half.
Spine of side is solid
Without doubt, one of the most impressive elements of our performances since the restart has been the core or spine of the starting line-up, namely with what Simon Kjaer, Alessio Romagnoli, Franck Kessie and Ismael Bennacer are offering us.
That quartet is absolutely fundamental to not only keeping things tight at the back and shutting out the opposition, but they also provide a stable foundation which then allows our more attacking players to have freedom and a bigger influence further up the pitch.
We’ve conceded just three goals in four games since the restart with Gianluigi Donnarumma keeping two clean sheets against Roma and Lazio. A big reason behind that is the form of these four integral individuals.
There was one sour note to what was otherwise a brilliant night and that was the injury sustained by Hakan Calhanoglu.
He hobbled off just before half-time and it’s hoped that it isn’t serious, especially with the quick turnaround to the Juve game early next week.
The 26-year-old still has his detractors, but aside from the superb work ethic he displays game in and game out, he has registered two goals and two assists since the restart as he is continuously growing into a top player.
Yes, he still makes mistakes and is sloppy at times and he must still kick on and develop further if he wishes to be regarded as an elite player, but there is no doubt that he is vital to Pioli and for good reason as he is improving into a pillar of the side with consistency standing in his way of becoming a top-class individual.