AC Milan faced Bologna in their first Serie A fixture of the season and managed to continue their form from last season, grabbing all three points thanks to a brace from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The game started at a low gear for Milan as Bologna were pressing high up the pitch, but eventually Pioli’s men picked up the pace and managed to open the score through a lovely header scored by Zlatan.
While Milan missed quite the few opportunities, they did manage to keep danger far from Donnarumma and shortly after the start of the second half Zlatan converted a penalty to make the scoreline 2-0.
The team didn’t look at 100 % but there were a lot of positives to get such as the impressive display from Davide Calabria, the solid game from Gabbia and the all mighty Zlatan.
Here are five things we learned from this fixture:
1. The lion is hungry
Yet again Zlatan stole the spotlight as he managed two goals to his name in the first Serie A game of the season.
However, it wasn’t just the goals that were impressive. The Swede’s hold-up play was on point and he showed a lot of movement throughout the game to link up with his team-mates, even dropping deeper at times.
Sure, it’s not the first time he has done that but you have got to admire the hunger he has and the way he makes everyone forget about his age.
Ibrahimovic could have added a couple more goals to his name and seemed frustrated about that, but hopefully he can continue his brilliant form.
2. Encouraging signs
Matteo Gabbia had a hard time at the end of last season and at the start of preseason, but he looked solid after being thrust into the XI against Bologna, giving some reassurance to the management regarding the defensive department.
While Milan still need some depth in the centre-back position as they only have Kjaer, Romagnoli and Gabbia who offer assurances, it is nice to see Gabbia improving and being capable of starting for the team if needed.
The Italian kept the opposition quiet for the bigger part of the game, and though he seemed a bit off towards the end it was largely due to the fact Leo Duarte had come on for Simon Kjaer.
3. Right wing still a problem
While the outcome of the game was pleasing, Samu Castillejo’s performance was far from that. The Spaniard struggled for the whole first half and was then subbed off.
He had a good run of form and helped a lot in tracking back and pressing, but ultimately fails to deliver what a winger should – creating chances and scoring goals.
Although he has pace in his feet, Castillejo ultimately doesn’t shine while attempting to beat defenders and has a hard time finding the back of the net or providing assists. While he is a good option to have, he is more of an option for the bench than a starter at a team like Milan.
Maldini is currently on the look for a centre-back and potentially a midfielder, but if a can’t-miss opportunity comes along for a winger he should pounce to add some flair on that right side. Yes Brahim Diaz could play there, but he was ultimately brought in to play behind the striker with Lucas Paqueta rumoured to be leaving.
4. Regaining trust
While Zlatan was impressive, he wasn’t the only one to stand out as it was a fantastic night for Davide Calabria.
The right-back hardly made a wrong decision during the game and completely neutralised Musa Barrow. Calabria is building on his form from the end of last season and gaining the trust of the fans and Pioli, as the manager himself mentioned.
A lovely display overall and in a position Milan were struggling last season. After rumours of a potential departure, it seems though as Calabria has not stopped working to prove that the solution for the right side is in-house.
5. Explosive as always
Calabria had an amazing performance, but Theo was certainly not far behind. The Frenchman was a constant threat going forward and managed to do very well at the back. proving he is improving in terms of defence.
He once again showed off his brilliant crossing abilities providing Zlatan with a lovely ball to open the scoring. Hernandez was close to scoring himself in the second half but was denied by the goalkeeper.
You could imagine Pioli being happy after today’s game with his to wing-backs having an amazing night.