Milan took their second consecutive win heading into the Derby della Madonnina, managing a hard-fought 1-0 victory away from home against Hellas Verona.
The home side suffered an early red card which forced them to sit back and defend for large parts of the game, but the Rossoneri lacked creativity and sharpness in the final third to break them down.
After seventy minutes, Piatek finally ended up breaking the deadlock through a penalty, resulting in the only goal in the game and three points for Marco Giampaolo.
Here are five things we learned from Sunday’s game…
1. Back in the goals?
After falling to impress since the first Preseason game, Piatek finally scored his first goal under Giampaolo.
Despite his goal coming from a penalty kick, Milan will hope that this will result in higher confidence for the Poland international and he will continue to improve, finding the same form he hit last season.
However, Piatek did look sloppy when passing the ball and trying to hold possession longer, something he has to work on as Giampaolo himself commented on during his pre-match press conference.
2. Biglia experiment fails
After and impressive performance in the 1-0 win against Brescia, Bennacer was dropped from the starting eleven in favour of Lucas Biglia.
This decision did not turn out well for Giampaolo as Biglia lacked creativity and his passes were mostly to the closest teammate without any idea to break the opposition.
On the other hand, in the little time he had Bennacer showed his ability to break down the opposition lines with his fast and sharp passes, opening the defence and creating space for his teammates.
Without a doubt the Algerian looks better in the defensive midfield role and should get the nod over Biglia for the derby.
3. Musacchio a shining light
Many rumours in the week prior to the game suggested that summer signing Leo Duarte might find himself in the starting eleven for the trip to Verona due to his impressive showings in training.
Despite this, coach Giampaolo once again gave the edge to Musacchio – thought it proved to be wise decision as the Argentine looked very solid at the back.
📊 Mateo Musacchio vs. Hellas Verona:
🤝 97% passing accuracy
✅ 14 duels won
🚫 5 blocks
👊 3 clearances
❌ 6 interceptions
💪 7 tackles won
🏆 8/10 rating – Man of the Match
— MilanData📊 (@acmilandata) September 16, 2019
Although Verona with ten men did not offer that much in terms of attack, it is fair to said that Mateo looked good when needed.
It could well be that the greater depth and competition in the squad is driving him to step up his focus and level of performances, knowing that he risks losing his starting spot otherwise.
4. Instant impact
Deadline day signing Ante Rebic started on the bench for the Rossoneri but did not have to wait long for his debut, replacing Lucas Paqueta at half time.
The Croatian immediately showed his pace and energy to make runs forward and try and break down the Hellas resistance.
However, he could have reacted better at times to make better decisions, and should have even scored the opening goal from a cross.
While at times he lost the ball too easy, Rebic did show great technique and ability to take players on, something which the others were not so keen on doing.
Time will tell if Milan made the right choice to sigh the ex-Eintracht man but his first moments in the Rossoneri shirt did not look bad at all.
5. Theo in for the Derby
It was yet another average performance from Ricardo Rodriguez at left-back as Milan await the return of new signing Theo Hernandez.
Despite being solid enough defensively, Rodriguez does not have the instincts and speed to provide quality while his team is attacking.
However, as we saw briefly in preseason, Hernandez seems to have the attributes for both defence and offense, looking like the perfect fit into Giampaolo’s system.
The head coach prefers to have a narrow formation thus having the need of modern full-backs who can move up and down the flanks quickly, contributing at both ends.
While Rodriguez has been solid for Milan in the past two seasons, he has failed to take advantage of his three starts so far this campaign, and it feels like his time might finally be up.