Milan travelled away to Atletico Madrid in search of their first Champions League win of the season in order to keep their hopes of qualifying to the next round alive, and they got it.
Pioli had to deal with a lot of absentees including Davide Calabria, Mike Maignan, Fikayo Tomori and Ante Rebic who missed the game due to injury. Rafael Leao was also not in optimal condition and in the end did not participate in the game.
Despite all the problems, the Rossoneri seemed determined to not repeat previous mistakes in the tournament and finally get all three points. The team played with more calmness and composure, waiting for the right moments to go forward.
Ciprian Tatarusanu had a quiet night Simon Kjaer and Alessio Romagnoli were commanding the back line really well, but ultimately both teams failed to create dangerous chances in the first half.
In the second half after Junior Messias and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were introduced, Milan looked sharper and had a couple of chances before Messias managed to win the game for Milan with a header. Here are five things we learned…
1. Captain’s performance
Romagnoli put in quite the performance last night. Excluding a few minor errors, the captain was rock solid at the back, neutralising Atletico Madrid’s attacking pair of Suarez and Griezmann. His passing was also on point as was his positioning and dominance in the air.
The Italian has kept working hard despite the fierce competition from Kjaer and Tomori and has come out even stronger it seems, having arguably his best performance of the season last night. If he continues playing like that, the management will be hoping he agrees a contract extension as soon as possible.
2. Lessons learned
After the catastrophic performance against Fiorentina, Theo Hernandez has seemingly worked hard during the week and was a completely different player against the Spanish champions. He was good in both phases of the game and didn’t make any silly mistakes nor give gifts to his former club.
The Frenchman also showed good composure towards the end of the game when Milan had to slow the pace down. Hopefully he can keep this focus week in week out and gets rid of the small errors from his game because that is what will take him to the next level.
.@TheoHernandez 🆚 Atletico Madrid
🚆 A solid return to his former club.
— SempreMilan (@SempreMilanCom) November 25, 2021
3. Duo continue good form
It was yet another game where Kessie and Tonali showed how good they can be on the pitch together as they managed to boss Atletico Madrid’s midfield, with Kessie dropping a bit deeper and Tonali making more forward runs.
The Italian’s passing was on point and he wasn’t afraid of going forward and trying to cut through the opposition’s defence with his through balls and dribbling.
His partner in crime was more involved in the defensive work, but showed great composure to slow the game down towards the end of it and also provided the assist to Messias that won his team the game, playing more as a makeshift attacking midfielder.
4. Dream come true
Junior Messias hasn’t had it easy since joining Milan in the summer. He struggled to get match fit in the beginning of the season and when he did he picked up an injury that side-lined him again.
The Brazilian picked up a couple of minutes against Fiorentina and now got his time to shine in the Champions League as he brought flair to Milan’s game and kept Atletico Madrid on their toes. The winger was too much for his opponents at times as he won several free kicks on that right hand side and eventually scored the winner to seal the three points. What a night for him as his amazing story continues.
Messias Junior vs Atletico (A)
— Milan Comps (@CompsACM) November 25, 2021
5. Encouraging impact
And finally, we have to give Bakayoko some credit for his impact off the bench. He had a really good game and helped a lot with his physical presence allowing the likes of Kessie and Bennacer more freedom which eventually led Kessie to assist the goal.
Bakayoko has also had it rough since re-joining Milan, but seems to be getting into form and really helped the team yesterday. Hopefully he can continue injury-free and gain some momentum as depth will be playing a huge role in the rest of Milan’s season.