Milan got their second win from two home games on Saturday night with a 3-2 win over Palermo.
Carlos Bacca’s brace either side of a beautiful free kick from Giacomo Bonaventura was enough for the three points to secure a perfect fightback following the derby defeat.
However, the win wasn’t without it’s drama, as Palermo levelled twice through former-PSV midfielder Oscar Hiljemark, thanks to some pretty suspect defending.
So, what did we learn from the second win of the season?
1. Big money, big value?
Carlos Bacca, as aforementioned, scored a couple of lovely goals that were fundamental to the victory.
So many times in that situation last season the team would succumb after being pegged back twice and only managed to get a point, but thanks to Bacca the team was able to pull out a win.
For the first goal, it was wonderful work from Bonaventura to spot the Colombian running round behind him, and Carlos produced a lovely finish with the outside of his boot to put the ball past a motionless Sorrentino.
As for his second, the cross from Kucka was perfect, but the header from Bacca was even better. A superb glance into the far corner that again left Sorrentino with no chance at all.
It was a huge goal and one that carried more meaning than just retaking a lead. It was a change in mentality, and a belief that Milan would secure the three points and start again after the disappointment of a week ago.
For that, I tip my hat to Carlos, who won a lot of people over with his performance.
2. Kucka continues to impress
Juraj Kucka stood out for me yet again as a consistent performer across the 90 minutes.
As already mentioned, his cross for the winning goal was fantastic, and will be the lasting statistical contribution for which he will be remembered in the game.
Aside from that though, he put in a real shift, and never seemed to stop working hard along the right side. Technically he was good also, possessing a good touch and looking pretty composed while on the ball.
And it is his work-rate that helps keep the balance in the team with Montolivo in the Regista role, as his contributions on both ends of the ball make the midfield tick along better than before.
It begs the question, will Kucka end up making more of an impact than Bertolacci? Early days it may be, but hopefully Juraj continues to show why Milan were so keen on snatching him at the end of the window.
3. Defensive naivety on show
Sadly, despite the win, I can’t not mention the negatives of what was hardly a squeaky-clean victory.
Hiljemark’s two goals did demonstrate a lack of decision, albeit the first a perfect cross from the set piece.
Unfortunately I have to blame Diego Lopez for the first concession. There seemed to be a mix up between himself and the defenders around that allowed Hiljemark to get the decisive touch.
Maybe there was a question of a foul on Lopez, but it is his duty to command his area and ensure nobody gets between him and the ball, and that didn’t happen. I will add though that I would never criticise Lopez where it is unwarranted, as he has been a standout performer for Milan over the last season and a bit.
The second goal is all on De Sciglio, sadly, as it is painful to have to point out his mistake following what had been a good spell of games for him.
Instead of tracking Hiljemark, he let him go through completely unobstructed. Whether he was expecting Romagnoli to ‘take the baton’ so to speak and continue tracking we will never know, but there’s no reason why that should have been the case.
Realistically though, it made the game more interesting and certainly the first half seemed to be played at lighting speed compared to the tactical probing we saw in the derby.
4. Montolivo adapting to starting position
Riccardo Montolivo has taken to his starting role very well, putting together two good performances and beginning to look like a true Regista.
His passing and ball distribution was exceptional again, and in the formation I feel that a Regista is definitely needed to balance the side and provide a creative outlet from deep.
Also, positioning wise Monto got into the key areas of the pitch and the right time, and looked composed defensively, almost cutting off the pass into Gilardino that led to the second equaliser.
He does offer a lot more in a game than Nigel de Jong, who was relied upon mainly for his defensive contribution and the ground that he covered. Yet again, though, Montolivo covered the most space of any Milan player statistically, following on from achieving the same feat against Inter.
For me, Montolivo has retained his starting place for Udinese on Tuesday night.
5. Bona-fide brilliance
Giacomo Bonaventura deserves all the praise that is about to come his way for another superb showing.
At times, he does look like the only player on the field for Milan with the drive and technical ability to really make a big impact. Never has he seemed rushed in possession, and the amount of decision errors he makes could be counted on one hand.
I am a big fan of Bonaventura, who struggled a little bit (by his own high standards) beginning the season, but he has come into his own.
When Bertolacci comes back, I feel like Mihajlovic has to deploy a midfield trio of Kucka-Montolivo-Bertolacci and let Bonaventura play Trequartista, because he can create and is always a threat.
Oh, and the free kick he buried was absolutely glorious. Keep it up ‘Jack’.
So, those were the five things I took from a very strange but very entertaining game between two good sides.
Milan have to kick on from the win and record another on Tuesday night, while Palermo must avoid going back to the drawing board, as what they did would have got them three points against most sides in the division.
Special mentions have to go to Davide Calabria, who took to the fullback role like a duck to water, and continues to be such an exciting young talent. Also Keisuke Honda, who was largely ineffective again, and Mario Balotelli, who may be in the mix for a start against Udinese.
Roll on Tuesday!
Article by Oliver Fisher
i can’t understand why are we still playing Honda and Adriano. i would place Bonaventura as N10 and play de Jong, why was he ever benched? then there is Balo who was simply amazing against Inter. much better than Luiz in my opinion. Milan is finally starting to look like a real team. we need 1 CB and minimum 1 CM in January, use Honda to get Witsel. we need also 2 CBs, one that is very useful and solid but won’t mind being benched and 1 leader, a world class. Nocerino, Alex, Mexes, Zapata, Honda, Cerci should all leave.… Read more »
I really do have to say Calabria was absolutely fantastic. In the second half, Honda was starting to get more touches and passes, but he also worked his tail off defensively. If you saw a map of where Honda was on the pitch after in the post game, he was everywhere on the field literally. He really does need to step it up though offensively, I think he’ll come around. Kucka looks good, bona got out of his preseason slump, bacca was great, de sciglio was actually quite good before the second goal, but things like that happen, he can… Read more »
I believe that we are just getting better
Players are getting serious and maybe it was competition that made the midfield better, i think kucka and monty for example knows that they will be banch if they didnot perform. And so i think it will be better to give Honda some competition because even the forwards are getting problems from Balo, center backs from Ely and full backs from Luca A and calabria
That is something very different this year, a lot of healthy competition in each position, if someone gets injured in any position, we have a quality replacement for the most part
I think honda should keep his position as he knows that role more than anyother in the team. Bonaventura might be good with dribbling and pace but honda got far better vision for pass and shots. Bonaventura is doing well in central mid he should stay there. I believe that honda will flourish behind the strikers when the team finds consistency in selection and performance
Honda still usless
Yeah you forgot mention Calabria, he was good last night..
Then mds, absolutely bad performanced recently..
Hope we win next macth and play better,
FYI, inter play bad or so so for 4 games but won all of games..
I did mention him, in the special mentions. Since he came on I didn’t feel it warranted a spot in the five, but definitely was worth the mention.
I saw only the 1st half,going by what I saw,Lopez should be blamed for the 1st goal. The goal was laughable,Dandruma couldn’t have made such a farce.To think that it was Palermo’s 1st,corner kick and 1st shot on goal even made it more irritating and annoying. I also find his side and short pass to defender closest to him annoying,it will cost some points soon enough if something isn’t done about it. I agree with Jack playing behind the strikers and he has been superb after the Empoli game. He free kick was a delight,how many assist now? Calabaria did… Read more »
It may be early in the season to tell, but the Bonna-Monto-Kucka (BMK) combination seems the best one for now.
Our midfield bench should adapt to replace their “roles” on the field because BMK work great together and we need fresh legs after the 1 hour mark:
Bonna being the dribbler creative midfielder. Monto being the deep lying playmaker (playing mostly forward passes). Kucka being the box-to-box midfielder.
Mds is too feable and that’s his main problem together with his weak left foot resulting in bad crossing.
Honda is becoming a defensive midfielder more than his role as trequartista.
We nid more fluidity in midfield to keep possession for longer periods of the match
Zapata I hope does not start making silly mistakes when under pressure. He actually left the ball to an opponent in midfield for god knows y.
I am happy that all our lateral defenders are from our academy
Interesting point about Honda becoming more defensive. I must admit from my view of the Inter game (in section 260) he looked to be making attacking runs in behind the defence when he got chance.
He does have to drop to receive the ball as a Trequartista, otherwise he would never get it, but I like your observation.
we learn as i allways have said that de jong slows down the game without him we score 3 goals againts a god team, aur defance is still the problems, i prefere ely instead of all others centerbacks, and ofcorese mauri even that he is young he is better than some of them who get to play.
Comment:MDS isn’t perfecting his duties as full back,he isn’t speedy,can’t dribble, can’t make very good crosses and naive at times when under pressure. Can’t wait to have Antonelli back… Bona has all it takes to become a world class…
Great article. However both goals were De Sciglios fault. Lopez was put in a bad spot by De Sciglio who lost his footing and allowed Hiljemark to be all alone in front of goal.
Agree with you Lucas and he was the worst player in the game with Honda
Hmmmm. I see what you mean about the first goal but for me Lopez HAS to be stronger. If he’s coming for it then he has to make it, but it was great work from Hiljemark to get in between like that.
Comment:Your analysis about “His passing and ball
distribution was exceptional
again,…” Really? Exceptional? Cant buy that, He just had an average shift nothing extraordinary. Bona and Kucka were the exceptional in the midfield department
For me the worst player was De Sciglio. By the second half the left wing was dead. And I literally mean dead. Bona did not get any support. ND Micheal also gave a lot of cheap possessions away. Antonelli and Calabria are starters for me now!
Comment:mihajlovic should try a 4-3-3 formation
Main thing is that we are improving… I would love to se formation with 2 CDMs, Monty and De Jong playing together… De jong is great defensivly and his short passes would go to Monty who could make long passes… 4231,would be great… But we dont have wingers for that formation and we are better with 2 strikers upfront… so 442 would seem better.. with Jack on his natural LM and Kucka/Berto/Suso on the right
De Sciglio needs to improve technically and tactically as the second goal was clearly his fault but not sure of the 1st goal as Lopez could have done better. Honda’s defensive hard work is telling on his offensive duty, he needs to strike a balance but i honestly commend him for the sacrifice he makes to help give the team some balance in midfield, let’s give him some time and hope he adapts to the new system.
My apologies for doubting Kucka, he is the ideal wing midfielder that’s been missing and he has proved ALL of us doubters wrong.
Bona-fide…. I like that..
His passing to Bacca seems they were playing together for long time…
Go Milan Go…
Can u jes play balo..adriano n bacca together? ?
Nice article mate! I think de sciglio is getting better, he is one of those players who is still suffering from last season i think, miha will have to work on that. On the first goal, Hiljemark was put infront of Lopez to interfere, and de sciglio had to mark him, but swedes are strong so he was outmuscled… But Lopez shouldve been more authorative no doubt. And on the second goal, de sciglio wanted to pull the offside trap, but Hiljemark was perfectly onside so he shouldve kept running with him, but its easy to say these things in… Read more »
Kucka will miss tomorrow game is very sad news
Juraj is a revelation… I was not too happy about his signing, and wasn’t sad either, but he worth it. I realy want to point out something de siglio though getting better is really forgetting his defensive duties palemo’s second goal and dat of guarin’s vs inter r similar.. de siglio’s failing to track back and romagnoli waitin 4 him to do his job.. I pray he changes that.. but overall I really love the team improvement and monti acting like a captain. Udinese, 3points in the bag.. forza milan