Ismael Bennacer sparkled in the midfield once again on Friday night, as Milan secured a vital 1-0 win over Brescia away from home.
The Rossoneri and Biancoazzurri kicked things off in Serie A round 21 at the Stadio Mario Rigamonti, with the visiting side managing to grind out a victory thanks to supersub Ante Rebic’s third goal in two matches.
Breathing in new life, fresh enthusiasm and quality upon making the €16 million switch from Tuscan outfit Empoli, Ismael Bennacer has given Milan fans something they have not been able to celebrate in years: a potential star midfielder in the making.
The 22-year-old Bennacer, despite making a gradual leap in his career and shouldering the immense pressure of emulating his same Player of the Tournament performances for his AFCON 2019 winning Algeria, has remained as consistent as any outfield player – regardless of the manager, system, opponent.
On Friday, the former Arsenal youth demonstrated just how much he is thriving and enjoying life in rossonero, turning in yet another dazzling display of superb midfield play in the 1-0 victory.
Starting alongside Franck Kessie in Stefano Pioli’s newly established 4-4-2, Bennacer revealed all that he possesses in his locker. On the ball, his efficient and effective circulation of possession is set up by his tidiness and ability to dribble.
Entering the tie, Bennacer had the best dribble success rate of players to attempt 30+ in Serie A this season with 85.1%, edging out Italian phenom Sandro Tonali (84.8%), according to Who Scored.
As a result of this, Bennacer proved yet again to be press-resistant and difficult to dispossess, thus allowing Milan to play with a bit more tempo this season unlike what we have witnessed in recent years with slower holding midfielders like Riccardo Montolivo and Lucas Biglia.
Passing to a success rate of 90% (via WhoScored) and launching five long balls, Milan’s build-up ran mostly through Bennacer who showed his ability to break lines and execute the first key pass to penetrate into the opposing half.
When playing centrally in a midfield bank of four with wide players who like to get forward, it is imperative Bennacer is awarded the freedom to operate as he pleases, something which Kessie aided in through his defensive efforts with six tackles.
Speaking of tackles, Bennacer chipped in with three of his own, showing that he has the defensive desire and wherewithal to do more than pull the strings. Despite picking up another yellow card – which rules him out for next weekend’s hosting of Verona – and his accumulation slightly problematic, the fact that he is willing to get his hands dirty and lend a hand defensively is admirable when you consider how much Milan’s midfield gets overrun as it did vs Brescia.
Nevertheless, Bennacer rolled out yet another performance that lends credence to a youngster who is playing with comfort, confidence and embracing the responsibility it takes to hold the keys to Milan’s midfield as the club prepares for Verona and Torino in the Coppa Italia before the pivotal Derby Della Madonnina against Inter in two weeks.