To win titles, you don’t necessarily need to have the best players in a competition. Character, personality, fighting spirit, refusing to accept defeat until the last second of a game, are only some of the characteristics needed for a team that wants to win. Milan, after so many years, ticks almost every box.
Of course, the squad lacks in terms of depth, even in terms of quality. However, going just a few months back, we all can agree that Italy weren’t the best in terms of quality at the European Championships, but they are deservedly the champions of Europe. They were a really united group, ready to sacrifice for every ball and to protect any teammate when needed, either during the game or even in a more heated situation.
Watching last night’s game, it was obvious that Milan is a team that do not fear anyone, in terms of quality or strength. Physical or psychological. It is very rare for a team to have so many players ready to sacrifice for the common goal, which for this year is the Scudetto. Champions League is a bonus, which will serve well for the young Rossoneri squad to gain experience at the highest level and come back stronger every year.
The starting eleven seems quite unchanged from last year, but in fact it has changed considerably and is growing quite well. Mike Maignan has been a leader since day one, even shouting at his defenders when they make a mistake. He also organises the whole defence well and is always aware when an opportunity for a counter-attack arises.
Theo Hernandez may not be at his best at the moment, but he certainly doesn’t hide in games. Even after his mistake he grew and almost provided an assist to a winning goal for Kalulu. Tomori seems as a bargain in the modern transfer market as he barely loses a personal duel – ground or aerial. Kjaer is a natural leader while Calabria grew so much that he even is Milan’s deserved captain when Romagnoli is not on the pitch.
Kessie, Bennacer and Tonali are definitely three more players that never back out from a duel. Brahim Diaz is not afraid to keep the ball at any time, while he fulfils his defensive duties better than most of the number 10s, making him a big upgrade compared to Hakan Calhanoglu in all terms, having already scored and assisted important goals.
Rebic is the ‘Ice Man’ for a reason: he lives for the big matches. Being provoked is the fuel that keeps him pushing even harder for a win. This is something he proved in Allianz Arena and many more times. Olivier Giroud is a World Champion and a Champions League winner, so nothing more need be said about him being fearless even at the highest level. And there is also Zlatan Ibrahimovic; when he is fit, he is a luxury for the Rossoneri even now.
The fact that – with so many problems before the game, with such a cheap goal conceded and with such a bad performance until 60 minutes in – Milan feel that a draw in Allianz Arena was not enough means that the character of a winning team is there.
The personality and confidence of each player has grown. It will grow even more with the rest of the Champions League matches. If Milan solves the fitness problems, there is no reason why the Scudetto can’t be at the other side of Milano at the end of the season.
PLAYER RATINGS: Juventus 1-1 AC Milan – Rebic decisive again; Tonali a warrior