With two games to go, Milan faced Atalanta in front of a packed San Siro in the search of a win to get them even closer to the Scudetto. In the end, they for the job done.
The game started off with both teams trying to create chances, as Atalanta also needed the win to help them secure a European spot. However, both teams failed to create dangerous chances in the first half.
In the second half, things looked different as Milan picked up the pace and with the help of some good substitutions by Pioli, they managed to open the scoring through Rafael Leao.
Afterwards, with a quarter of an hour to go, it was Theo Hernandez that scored a sublime goal as he started from his own half and went all the way to the edge of the opponent’s box. He found the back of the net with a great finish to seal the three points for his team.
From then onwards, the defence did its part to keep a clean sheet and now Milan are one game and one point away from the highly sought-after Scudetto. Here are five things we learned…
1. Clinical when it mattered the most
Leao was a bit isolated before Rebic came on the pitch with Atalanta watching the Portuguese closely and not allowing him to do much. Despite all their efforts, however, Leao showcased his pace yet again and after a good ball from Messias, he managed to beat the last man in Atalanta’s defence and find the back of the net.
The youngster has had his struggles when it comes to the final third and it has really been his only flaw this season, but against Atalanta, he kept his cool and made no mistake as he led his team to victory.
2. Game changer
Speaking of composure, Theo Hernandez was another player that shined against Atalanta. The Frenchman did his part at the back and had a couple of great tackles, but the highlight for him has to be the goal he scored.
The determination, pace and skill he showed in order to get himself from his own half to the opponent’s box, and then the composure to find the back of the net, is nothing short of extraordinary. The left-back helped seal the three points and has reminded us just how important he can be in the big games.
3. Flawless in defence
The defence was a crucial part of the game for Milan as they kept yet another clean sheet. Fikayo Tomori also won the MOTM in our player ratings as he managed to neutralise Atalanta’s attack with the help of Kalulu, who got the same rating (8/10).
There was probably one dangerous shot outside the box, which was handled nicely by Maignan and the only real bad moment for the duo was when they allowed Zapata to get into a dangerous position towards the end of the game. Maignan was there once again to preserve the clean sheet. In short, an outstanding defensive performance and one of the main reasons Milan are so close to a title.
4. Great game management by Pioli
The manager did well to react after a somewhat bad first half for the Rossoneri, in which they failed to create anything dangerous. Pioli got Messias on and the Brazilian used his first and second touch to provide the assist for Leao as he got an impact on the game straight away.
Rebic, furthermore, allowed Leao a bit more freedom after the winger struggled to find space with Giroud up front. The rest of the substitutes were also brilliant: Bennacer, Florenzi and surprisingly Bakayoko all helped their team and barely put a foot wrong and we should thank Pioli for that as he managed this game in great fashion.
5. Growing confidence
A couple of months back, when Milan and Inter were still really close to each other in terms of points, the Rossoneri seemingly failed to handle the pressure at times and not only did they drop a lot of points, but they played really poorly.
But with this stretch of 15 games unbeaten in the league, 10 of which are wins and currently 5 wins in a row, Milan are showing signs of great improvement with the young players gaining more and more experience.
If they do end up winning the Scudetto, this will for sure be a pivotal moment for Milan’s ambitions moving forward as it will bring much-needed experience to these youngsters and the composure they’ve lacked at times. Something that will be crucial in Europe next season.