While they may not get the same level of media coverage as some of our attacking stars, a quartet of Milan players have become integral to our good form since the season restart.
After our disappointing slip-up at SPAL in midweek, the Rossoneri were thankfully able to return to winning ways at Lazio this weekend in a boost for our Europa League qualification hopes.
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Goals from Hakan Calhanoglu, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ante Rebic sealed a superb win, but a group of four players primarily doing their work in the opposite half of the pitch arguably deserve just as much credit given their influence on our performances and results since the restart.
That quartet consists of Simon Kjaer, Alessio Romagnoli, Franck Kessie and Ismael Bennacer.
Decisive impact on improved defensive form…
The spine of the side has laid a solid foundation which offers more freedom to the attacking players to go out and win the game and allows them to have an influence further up the pitch whether it’s pressing high or occupying spaces to hurt the opposition when we’re on the ball.
Kjaer has gradually built an excellent partnership with Romagnoli in the heart of the backline and that’s evidenced by the fact that we’ve kept three clean sheets since the restart, and have conceded just three goals in five games while Gianluigi Donnarumma hasn’t had much to do as things are so well organised and compact in front of him.
With the Dane’s experience, calmness, physicality and reading of the game coupled with Romagnoli’s class on and off the ball, they’re combining really well together and it’s arguably now merely a matter of time before we decide to make Kjaer’s move a permanent switch.
Meanwhile, our deep-lying midfield duo are providing an equally as important contribution as they’re offering a protective shield in front of the defence with their energy, tenacity and combativeness to break up the opposition’s play and offer them little space and time through the middle to break us down.
Further, they’re getting across and helping us avoid being outnumbered on the flanks when necessary, and while they’ve kept it relatively straight-forward and have tried to get the ball to our creative players as quickly as possible since the restart, they are still providing us with the base on which to build our attacks while also making penetrative runs forward at times.
Their presence gives Kjaer and Romagnoli time on the ball too as they’re also capable of distributing from the back, and so this quartet is undoubtedly having a big influence in our resurgence since the restart.
There is still room for improvement of course and we’ve seen it break down a little especially at SPAL where poor defending for the opening goal and allowing Sergio Floccari time and space to hit a brilliant strike cost us as we dropped points. That said though, there are certainly more positives than negatives to take from their displays thus far.
We’ll have to be at our best again on Tuesday night to overcome Juventus, but what these four will do is try to win an important battle which will allow us to get a foothold in the encounter and that in turn will help us control proceedings and play at our tempo.
They’ve been very impressive in recent weeks and the 4-2-3-1 is suiting the team as a whole, so credit to Stefano Pioli for putting in place such crucial building blocks, and credit to the individuals in question who have been fundamental in our upturn in form.