It is just under one year ago that AC Milan lost 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico against Roma early in Stefano Pioli’s reign, to drop to 13th in the table with just 10 points on the board.
Sunday’s edition of Tuttosport (via MilanLive) looks at how much has changed in the past 12 months, picking out four things in particular as being the reason for Milan’s resurgence under Pioli.
The first concerns the formation. Giampaolo had Milan playing a 4-3-1-2 at the start of the season but never fully implemented it nor did he have the right players to play it, but the flexible Pioli came in and realised a 4-2-3-1 gets the best out of this group of players.
The second move was made in midfield, which is now arguably the key department for the Rossoneri. Pioli put African duo Franck Kessie and Ismael Bennacer together in a double pivot, something which brings the best out of both of them and has allowed them to grow exponentially.
The third point concerns Hakan Calhanoglu. The Turkey international has played a number of different positions at Milan including as a winger, a second striker and as a central midfielder, but Pioli has deployed him almost exclusively as a No.10 and that has been the key to his resurgence.
Last but not least is the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Pioli endorsed the club’s choice to bring Ibra back last January, and the relationship and mutual respect between the two has been decisive in creating a group that are on a marvellous run.