AC Milan 2-0 Lazio: Five things we learned – masterful displays and defending done right

By Ivan Stoev -

After two wins in the opening two games of Serie A, Milan faced their first more difficult opponent in the form of Sarri’s Lazio, and they passed the test with flying colours.

The Biancocelesti won their first two games scoring a combined nine goals so it was expected to be a very hard game for both teams, but in the end Milan’s defensive block came out superior, neutralising Lazio’s attack and barely allowing the Biancocelesti a chance on goal.

Pioli had made a couple of changes to his starting XI with Romagnoli slotting in next to Tomori, Kessie returning in the midfield and Florenzi getting his official debut on the right flank instead of Alexis Saelemaekers.

The game started off in a very high pace with Milan determined to get the opening goal which indeed came just before half-time after Leao netted the opener, putting a seal on his brilliant performance in the first half.

In the second half, intensity slightly dropped but it was all the same as Lazio barely had any chances and Milan were getting closer to a second goal, which came in 66th minute after Zlatan managed to double the lead for his team just 7 minutes after coming off the bench thanks to Rebic’s feed.

Overall it was a lovely display by the team and everyone was heavily involved with a positive performance, but we’ll try to narrow down the five most important things we learned:

1. Defending done right

It’s should be clear by now that Milan’s defensive block combined with the midfield is shaping to be the strength of Pioli’s team. The Rossoneri have conceded just once since May in official games and after the summer transfer window not only does the team have quality in those positions but it also has depth.

Florenzi played his first game in red and black and he doesn’t really need an introduction. Despite his resume though, he is going to have to settle for the bench as Davide Calabria has grown immensely over the course of the last two season and continues to improve with every game shaping himself as arguably one of the best right backs out there.

On the left, Theo Hernandez has been a phenomenon, but Ballo-Toure has shown really promising signs when coming on and will definitely be an important player for the squad. Tomori and Kjaer have been superb towards the end of last season, but fortunately for Pioli, Alessio Romagnoli seems determined to get his starting spot back and with the addition of Gabbia and Kalulu, the boss can enjoy the luxury of having all of these players at his disposal.

2. Plenty to prove

While we are mentioning the defensive unit as a whole it’s necessary we recognise what a great game Romagnoli had. The Italian had a rough past season where he was eventually pushed out of the XI by Tomori, but seems determined to regain his starting spot this season.

He took preseason very seriously and now after getting his start he has shown that he will make Pioli’s life difficult when it comes to choosing between him, Kjaer and Tomori. Fortunately, the season is long and there are a lot of games, and with Kjaer being 32 it would be great for Romagnoli to find his mojo back and form the future centre back pairing between him and Tomori.

3. Che partita

Tonali had a difficult first season in red and black especially with the likes of Kessie and Bennacer being in the team, as the duo have formed arguably the best double pivot in Serie A.

However, we’ve come to actually see Tonali’s full potential this season as the midfielder started pre-season fairly positive then brought confidence to the coach in the first two game, but has completely shifted the gear against Lazio.

Sandro was dictating the game and was arguably the best player on the pitch. His vision and passing abilities where at the core of Milan’s second goal and his work rate was great as he made runs forward that were a joy to watch, but he also took care of some of the dirty work when defending.

It was an amazing display by the youngster and all of a sudden Kessie and Bennacer’s places in the starting XI don’t look so certain.

4. Show time

With Zlatan starting on the bench and Olivier Giroud not in the squad due testing positive for Covid-19, it was Rebic and Leao running the show up top with Leao on the left and Rebic playing as the sole striker.

The Portuguese managed his second goal of the season after gliding past a defender and then combining with Rebic to open the scoring. Leao seems to have took matters into his own hands and looks more mature and determined to have a big season after failing to find continuity the past two years since joining from Lille.

The pace and technique have always been there, it was the work ethic and his decision making that were lacking which he seems determine to work on.

On the other hand, Rebic will have a hard time fighting for a spot in the line-up because of Leao’s brilliant performances, but he seems determined to do so after racking up two assists and causing all sorts of problems for the Lazio defence.

Needless to say, it’s a good problem for Pioli to have as the team now seems to have a lot of quality off the bench which will allow them to fight on multiple fronts.

5. Back with a bang

At the age of 39, Zlatan was out with a knee injury for over four months, but miraculously managed to recover and seems to be in good shape and ready for action yet again.

The Swede picked up a goal just seven minutes after coming off the bench and was involved in the game enough to show that he still has fuel left in the tank for a final push and will be pivotal for Millan this season.

Hopefully, with Giroud and Pellegri, Ibrahimovic can rest as much as his body needs to and play a part in the crucial games of the season.

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Tags AC Milan Milan Lazio


  1. I disagree that Tonali is at his full potential. He is a kid and will continue to improve as he is already showing signs of top class and already close to the best midfielder we have (if he keeps this level then he would already be our best). He has no weaknesses and is the most complete midfielder we have by far. If he continues to grow and gain confidence and if Pioli keeps putting faith in him (right now he should not be benched for either Kessie or Bennacer in the current form he’s in) we will have the next great Italian midfielder here at AC Milan. Keep it up Sandro, wishing you good health and continued growth!

    1. 100%. As long as Pioli keeps Leao at LW or runs him in a 2 striker formation as a CF and not the main striker he will continue to improve. No more striker for Leao he’s so much better where he’s at now. Plus glad to see Romagnoli playing like he used to, we need to re-sign him as him and Tomori can be our pairing for years. Great overall team performance very happy!

  2. Romagnoli needs to change his agent first before I will give him.a chance. His agent is a schemer and drama queen. Playing one match good is not enough to warrant a renewal. Let him leave for all I care. Gabbia stepped in for romagnoli for -5 matches last season and we did not notice he was out. I would not change our starting duo just to satisfy him as captain. He should never have been captain in the first place. No leadership quality at all. He was made captain because he was a “marquee” signing for some fools who disrespected Milan’s tradition.

  3. a very good article. keep Leao on left wing. Rebic has grown as a striker. difficult choice for Pioli to decide on LW and on CM. Milan should play 433

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