Looking to build on their positive run in the league, AC Milan headed to Genoa with a lot of confidence although knowing that it would be a tough game. It ended up being just that, but they still claimed all three points.
Pioli decided to rotate up front and started a front three consisting of Samuel Chukwueze, Luka Jovic and Noah Okafor, with the Serbian international finally getting his chance from the start.
Unfortunately, the Rossoneri didn’t have much in attack during the first half and Pioli eventually had to bring on Christian Pulisic and Rafael Leao to try and turn the game around. The American ended up saving the day, scoring in the 87th minute.
In the dying minutes of the game, there was a lot of drama as Mike Maignan was sent off and Olivier Giroud had to put on the gloves for the final few minutes. In that time, Genoa hit the woodwork and forced the Frenchman into making a huge save to seal the three points. To top things off, Genoa’s goalkeeper Josep Martinez was also sent off in the 103rd minute.
Overall, it was not an easy game for Milan, who looked a bit fatigued which is understandable given the tight schedule, but what’s important is the three points. Here are five things we learned…
1. Attacking trio disappoints
We have mentioned on several occasions since the start of the season that Pioli has a lot of quality at his disposal, but against Genoa we didn’t see that with Okafor, Jovic, and Chukwueze struggling up front.
Jovic could perhaps be excused given that he probably isn’t fully fit yet, and while he had a bad game he didn’t get good service either.
Okafor, who has played some really good games, really struggled against Genoa and failed to have an impact on the game. On the right, Chukwueze continued to be underwhelming as we are yet to see him impress.
The Nigerian is the only big summer signing that is yet to show his quality and he has had plenty of chances to do so, but has been wasteful in all of them excluding a few nice dribbles here and there.
2. Another one
The frustration in attack transferred from the Champions League to Serie A, but fortunately for Pioli, his defence continued to be impeccable, leaving little for Genoa to play with and making the late goal enough for Milan to win all three points.
Malick Thiaw and Fikayo Tomori led the way as they both had a strong game, whilst Maignan made a very impressive save before being sent off. That makes it the third clean sheet in a row and 5 out of the last 6 games with just one goal conceded in that period.
The backline has reacted well after the loss against Inter especially at the back. With the team battling it out on multiple fronts, defensive solidity will be key as it was in the Scudetto-winning season two years ago.
3. Sloppy by the French duo
Maignan did not necessarily have a poor game, but the red card was reckless and means he will miss the big game against Juventus. Theo Hernandez, meanwhile, was quite poor overall and also took an unnecessary yellow card which means he also will miss the game.
The left-back also played poorly going forward and wasn’t at his usual best, having failed to pick up the pace this season so far. He will need to react appropriately and what better time than the Champions League game against PSG?
4. Mixed performances in the middle
The midfield wasn’t quite as dominant this time around with Yacine Adli struggling a bit, and later on was replaced after a game he’d want to forget quickly.
Tijjani Reijnders and Yunus Musah were better but the American was sloppy at times too. He did work hard towards the end and got an assist so he gets a pass.
The Dutchman was probably the most active one out of the three as he was constantly on the ball, showcasing his stamina as he just kept running till the end. Despite that, he too did not have a massive impact, but the willingness is there, and there is plenty of room for improvement, which we have highlighted in previous weeks.
5. Pulisic and Giroud save the day
Pulisic picked Chukwueze at half-time and played a much better game than his Nigerian teammate. On the goal, he controlled the ball really well before striking it with his weak foot, bagging his second consecutive goal in the league.
The winger now has four goals and an assist in eight league games and has sealed his starting spot with his great start to the season, whilst Chukwueze hasn’t made a statement for the spot either as he’s still struggling to get going.
Of course, it’s impossible to take five things from the game without discussing the heroics of Olivier Giroud. To step up and put on the gloves at that moment takes some balls, and he did it so well too with that save at the end. He and Pulisic saved the day for the Rossoneri, that’s for sure.