Collectively, Milan have been brilliant since the restart and it has led to renewed hope of securing a direct path to the Europa League group stage next season.
Since we returned to action, we’ve won seven and drawn three, scored 28 goals and conceded 11. A big factor in that turnaround has been successfully building a solid and reliable foundation on which we can go out and win games.
Make no mistake, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Alessio Romagnoli, Ismael Bennacer and others have played a major part too, while the frontline put in an important shift off the ball as the defensive effort starts from our attacking players.
Nevertheless, two players are arguably emerging as immovable rocks in the XI and they are Simon Kjaer and Franck Kessie.
Commanding, assured displays…
Kessie has missed around eight minutes of football since the restart after coming off early against Lecce and Lazio, while Kjaer has played in every game barring the draw with SPAL.
It is simply no coincidence that these two almost ever-present figures in the side who are having such a big influence have emerged while we’re in the best form we’ve shown this season.
Kjaer has been immense in the backline, showing experience, leadership and a calmness to marshal the defence and physically impose himself in key battles with the opposition attack.
Even with Romagnoli missing against Atalanta, he guided and led by example with Matteo Gabbia next to him, and it’s that aspect of his game that is also invaluable as he’ll certainly be aiding the development of his fellow defenders given the knowledge he has accumulated during his career thus far.
Meanwhile, Kessie’s development and improvement has been incredible since the restart. Finding his best role in a deeper position in a 4-2-3-1 system has been key, but while he’s excelled in doing the defensive work that is necessary in that part of the pitch, he’s also showing great composure and decision-making with his distribution to get us on the attack.
His fitness levels are unbelievable considering the workload he has each game, but it’s the intelligence that he’s showing in possession which is the biggest boost as that is clearly something that he’s been working on and is coming more naturally to him in his new role particularly next to Bennacer.
It has been the source of constant criticism since he joined us from some quarters, and perhaps not being burdened with a more attacking role where he is expected to be more influential in the final third is allowing him to express himself with less pressure.
Both men deserve a huge amount of credit for the steeliness, resilience and commitment that they’re showing right now as it’s easy to forget that they’re playing at a high level and intensity every three days, and they will without doubt continue to be crucial in our remaining two Serie A games as we continue to try and leapfrog Roma to secure a place in the Europa League group stage next season.