After a last minute equaliser against Parma at the weekend, Milan were expected to bounce back against Genoa, but had yet another frustrating night as they equalised late on the avoid defeat for the second game in a row.
Unfortunately for the Rossoneri, Theo had to sit on the bench for this one as he suffered a muscle strain just before the game. In addition to that, Milan didn’t want to rush Zlatan Ibrahimovic back into action and he was left out of the group, with Kjaer and Bennacer missing too.
While the absence of Zlatan wasn’t felt at first, it is now clear that when both he and Kjaer are out, the team struggle. Milan were sluggish on the ball for the second game in row and failed to be dangerous in the box with an unconvincing Ante Rebic and the absence of a pure striker.
If we are looking into positives, Milan even without four key players still found a way to come back twice in the game and salvage at least a draw to extend their unbeaten run. However, it was far from a ideal result and the Rossoneri management will have to intervene in January.
Here are five things we learned from the game…
1. Absences felt
It was bad enough when one of them was absent, but it seems though without Ibrahimovic and Kjaer Milan are lacking some experience on the pitch.
Not to undermine the other absentees, but the Dane and Swede have been pivotal for Pioli, and no more so than ever as Gabbia is injured as well forcing Pioli to play Kalulu from the start against Genoa.
While Leao was doing somewhat well as a striker before his injury, the youngster now doesn’t seem to fit with Ante Rebic struggling for form as well. Therefore with fatigue and additional injuries Milan are in desperate need of their two leaders which unfortunately may miss the Sassuolo game as well before coming back to action.
2. Attacking trio failing to impress
To say Milan are in a goal drought would be wrong as they have managed at least two goal per game in Serie A for 14 consecutive games now.
However, the last four goals for the Rossoneri have all come from defenders, with two for Theo, one for Calabria and one for Kalulu. That being said, while the team still finds the back of the net, players such as Rebic, Samu, Leao have been poor, with Hauge and Calhanoglu struggling as well, although the latter created the two chances for the goals against Genoa.
Despite his assists though, Hakan has had quite the a chances in the last couple of games and has failed to put a goal to his name where he should have. This problem needs an immediate fix and Pioli has to find a solution and get Milan’s forward back on the right path.
3. Strength to strength
If there are a few positives to take from the game, one of them surely the display by Calabria. The Italian struggled last season, but has become the regular right-back now and keeps on growing and impressing.
He scored the first goal for his team after a stunning long range effort, but it didn’t end there. The 24-year-old was doing his job at the back despite constantly going forward and being a threat to Genoa’s defence.
— SempreMilan (@SempreMilanCom) December 17, 2020
Clearly he’s more confident now as he is showcasing his intelligent runs and fast feet that surprisingly enough allow him to dribble past players, cut inside when needed and get out of tight situations. If Calabria continues like this and improves even more as he is still young, he is surely set to be Milan’s right-back for years to come.
4. Spirit stays high
Despite coming off the back of a bad result against Parma and twice going behind against Genoa, it’s fair to say that the mentality this team has nowadays is different and in a good way compared to the last couple of years.
Being 2-0 down to Parma, fighting and getting the draw. Being down twice at Genoa and still managing to salvage a point. Yes, the two results should have been in Milan’s favour on paper, but the team, despite all absentees, do not want to give up.
The youngsters seem to have matured and embraced that winning mentality with the help of Zlatan and look willing to give their all in every game to get the positive result.
It’s quite obvious that no team can win every game and even the best sides have ups and downs, but for a team that a year ago when going 1-0 down was finished, it feels like a miracle that they have come so far.
5. Saving the day
Gigio did concede twice, but he made a few crucial saves to keep his side in the game. One especially was a 92 minute acrobatic shot by Scammacca that was going right into the corner had Donnarumma not stretched enough to save it.
The Italian has also been crucial for his side even when the team was winning and it’s only fair he gets some credit for his wonderful job this season as he is surely one of the worlds best.