Arrigo Sacchi has praised AC Milan for their performance against Napoli as they battled for a fantastic three points, but he urged the team not to get ahead of themselves.
Olivier Giroud scored the all-important winner in Naples, bagging his first away goal for Milan and securing a vital three points that saw Milan return to the top of the table after two disappointing results in the league.
Milan looked stronger despite the 1-0 score, limiting their title rivals to few chances in a game that saw the two sides crucially locked on 57 points heading into it, with top spot available for the winner, which Milan seized.
Sacchi spoke during his usual weekly column for La Gazzetta dello Sport and reflected on he Rossoneri’s big win in Naples, with his comments relayed via PianetaMilan.
On Milan being top: “Of the top four in Serie A, Milan are the club that has spent the least. Less than Inter, less than Napoli and less Juventus. It means that the managers have been good at keeping the budgets in order and building a very competitive team.”
On whether the win was deserved: “I would say yes. The first half was very cautious, both on the part of Milan and on the part of Napoli. They were afraid of taking risks, evidently. The goalkeepers were hardly ever engaged, not there were real opportunities. Then, however, Olivier Giroud’s goal broke the balance.”
On Giroud’s winning goal: “An intervention that, at the same time, is the result of instinct and reasoning. Look closely at the action: he returns from offside, so he has the idea of being able to participate in the action, and then with the the striker’s instinct sets his foot to send the ball to the net. Perfect execution.”
On the reaction of Napoli that did not arrive: “There was not immediately, because Milan continued to press on the accelerator. I noticed that the Rossoneri arrived first on the second balls, that is, on the rebounds. It means that they had more energy to use at that moment. Then, also the result of willpower, there was the reaction of Napoli, but it was a nervous reaction, not based on game ideas.”
On why Napoli did not create scoring chances: “The rather disappointing performances of the two wingers, Lorenzo Insigne and Matteo Politano, influenced the development of the maneuvers. And Piotr Zieliński also did little. It should be added, however, that Milan defended in almost perfect way.
“An excellent protection from the midfielders, so that the defenders could face their opponents with greater tranquility. The solution of Napoli, in the end, has almost always been the pass, short or long, to Victor Osimhen who has so much courage, is fast, technically very good, but he can’t solve everything by himself.”
On who he liked most from Milan: “Two above all: Rafael Leão and Theo Hernández. Leão seems to have a moped, while the others ride a bicycle, good at giving continuity to his action. And then Hernández, when he is physically fit, is really a bull: he has strength and endurance. He never gives up.
“In the recovery minutes he had the energy to make a sixty-metre sprint and give a golden assist to Alexis Saelemaekers. I also really liked Ismaël Bennacer: excellent in the pressing phase and in distributing the game. And I also saw Franck Kessié growing.”
On what this victory can give to Milan: “A lot of enthusiasm. If you win a direct match away from home, like the Rossoneri did, you charge up, you are convinced of your strength, you believe even more in yourself. And then it seems to me that physically, the whole group is in a phase of growth.
“Here, there is one aspect to keep under observation: Milan have many young players and young players are as easy to feel euphoria as they are depression. In this moment we must find the perfect balance point, but Stefano Pioli, who is doing an exceptional job, and the managers know how to intervene in certain situations.”
On the idea that Milan are favourites for the Scudetto: “Impossible to say about such a young team. The important thing is that they continue to focus on the game and the group. Only in this way can they overcome the deficit in experience and, consequently, in technical qualities who have respect to their opponents.
“Milan are a team that suffers a lot when others use their physique, their strength. They have to improve in this respect and never forget that their eventual success, which for me would be a real undertaking given the premises, passes through the fluidity of the maneuvers, the attention that everyone puts into the game, the spirit of sacrifice.
“You win with the collective, where everyone takes part in the defensive and offensive phase united by an invisible thread that is the game.”