AC Milan proved a point on Saturday evening managing to win the Derby della Madonnina and extend their run of form to four wins out of four games.
After three wins in a row Milan went into the international break full of confidence ahead of the derby against Inter. However, despite the good results Pioli had some selection issues with Zlatan Ibrahimovic coming back from Covid-19 and Rebic unable to play due to injury.
Alessio Romagnoli was also thrown in action in the absence of Gabbia with the captain having been injured for a while and not yet back at 100%.
The Rossoneri started the game with a high tempo and after a lovely play starting from Calabria and passing through Calhanoglu and finally Zlatan, the Swede earned himself a penalty. Despite missing the initial spot kick he was the fastest to react and gave Milan the lead.
Three minutes later it all started from Calabria again, but this time with the involvement of Saelemaekers and Leao it was a four-pass killer attack which following the cross from Leao allowed Zlatan to make it 2-0.
Inter eventually got one goal back, but it wasn’t enough as Milan walked off with all three points. Here are five things we learned from the game…
1. The king of Milan
It feels like nothing and nobody are able to stop Zlatan Ibrahimovic at this point and he looks hungrier than even.
The 39-year-old came off roughly two weeks of self-isolating to only have a few training sessions with his team-mates and be thrown back into the starting XI against Inter. The Swede still managed to score a brace only 16 minutes into the game.
⏰ 16 seconds
🎯 4 passes
— SempreMilan (@SempreMilanCom) October 17, 2020
We should probably stop mentioning his age at this point because it simply does not look relevant, but it’s impressive to see him play a full 90 minutes in his current condition and be able to even drop deep and help his team.
Ibrahimovic had his doubters but he sure loves proving them wrong. He already has four goals in two games and he was the king of the derby. Simply phenomenal.
2. Viking warrior
While Ibrahimovic was impressing up front, it’s only fair to give some praise to Simon Kjaer. The Danish international was simply the best defender on the pitch against Inter and hardly allowed the opponents to shoot or win a duel.
Since his arrival there was some question about how much he can contribute to the team given his difficult loan spell at Atalanta before coming to Milan, but Kjaer seems to established himself as a pillar in the squad and his experience is welcomed.
In the absence of Romagnoli he also managed to dictate the back line and he only deserves praise for the effort he has put in lately.
3. We can’t get enough of Kessie
Speaking of dominant performances, what a night it was for Franck Kessie. He probably won a duel against all of Inter’s midfielders and managed to outmuscle and escape from each and every one of them.
Beyond his physical presence which is immense, Kessie is developing a lot as a player as his involvement going forward and carrying the ball from the back is improving. The Ivorian looked really composed and wasn’t afraid to hold the ball and dribble his way out of trouble. It just seemed that with every game he is a more complete player.
His competition with Tonali is getting more and more interesting with days passing by as Sandro was regarded as the more talented player who will eventually take a starting XI spot, but Kessie looks better with every game thus making this battle really interesting.
4. Saelemaekers did not disappoint
Alexis Saelemaekers started the derby from minute one and even in the absence of Rebic he was still ahead of Castillejo and Brahim in getting the start on the right wing.
While Pioli was probably looking for some balance as Alexis has a high work rate and can help Calabria at the back, the Belgian was quite dangerous going forward as well. His lovely turn and pass into Calhanoglu was at the core of the second goal.
Don’t get me wrong, all of the players put in a great effort, and some even played a bigger role in the win, but Saelemaaekers deserves some praise for the work he is putting in recently. From the small transfer fee Milan paid for him – around €7million – to the low expectations everyone had regarding him, he is finally repaying the trust of Pioli.
In the majority of the games he was the player who put in an extra shift to help the defence and keep it simple when attacking, but the youngster is gaining confidence and is becoming a bigger threat going forward.
5. What a team effort
Needless to say the whole team put the work in in order to get the three points. It’s quite the while now since we won the derby in Serie A and it was back in 2010 that Milan hadn’t won ‘away’ against Inter. It is fair to say there is a lot of excitement right now as the team is proving that they mean business.
From the work of Pioli and that of the players who seem hungry and motivated to prove themselves, to Maldini, Gazidis and the whole management who have brought stability to the club once again, Milan is finally looking more like its former self. Or at least at the beginning of something that could become special.
It is a wonderful thing to see Pioli proving the doubters wrong making this team grow with evert single game.
❤️🖤 Making us proud. 🖤❤️ pic.twitter.com/6BHIeUpMf9
— SempreMilan (@SempreMilanCom) October 17, 2020