Milan recorded a vital pre-Christmas win with a 4-2 victory over newly promoted Frosinone at the Stadio Matusa on Sunday evening.
The home side took the lead thanks to a 1-on-1 conversion from Daniel Ciofani, but Milan hit back with goals from Ignazio Abate, Carlos Bacca and Alex before Federico Dionisi gave the Canarini a lifeline.
Giacomo Bonaventura sealed the win with a late goal as Milan secured a positive ending to the first half of the season.
So, with that being said, what can we learn from a game that provided a roller coaster of emotions?
1. A tale of two halves
After 45 minutes of the game on Sunday night I, like many, was livid with the way the Rossoneri had approached the game.
It was far too complacent, and it reeked of a team that expected to just show up and have enough to beat an opponent that was willing to scrap from the first minute to the last.
Quite frankly, it was disgusting, and we fully deserved to be in a tough position at the break.
The response was fantastic. Milan approached the second half with intensity, energy, creativity and a bit of passion. It meant that come the full time whistle, the Devils fully earned the three points.
It is amazing how football can produce such a topsy-turvy ride from what should have been a formality. After the game, I had no complaints about the game. The three points are huge and we Milanisti got a huge dose of entertainment!
2. Put to the sword
Unfortunately, despite the positive outcome, some people need to be put to account.
Firstly, Sinisa Mihajlovic needs to be questioned based on the somewhat naive beginning to the game that Milan underwent. I would have loved to have seen Milan go all out from the start and take an early lead, but what ensued was probing and poor football.
For the first goal, Alex and Romagnoli need to be questioned for allowing such a gap between them for Ciofani to score. Even I could have picked that pass and I haven’t played competitive football for years.
A lack of communication is somewhat to blame, but it isn’t the first time we have seen the duo surrender a poor goal. As a partnership they compliment each other well; Alex provides the heigh and physicality while Alessio gives us anticipation and awareness.
Also, for me Montolivo did not have a great first half. He was wasteful in possession and struggled to contain the space that the Frosinone attack had to work with, although he did do a good job with forcing them wide and rebounded with a much better second half.
Overall, nobody had a good game in the first half but everyone pulled together and demonstrated composure and quality in the second 45 minutes. For that I can not fault them.
3. Credit where it’s due
In fairness to the team, the second half performance was one that filled me with a lot of joy and wonder. Wonder why we can’t do this more often.
Carlos Bacca was very good. He did a great job leading the line; creating space for the wingers and occupying the space that created doubts in the mind of the Frosinone defence and midfield.
In addition, Keisuke Honda had a good game. He has his critics, but Honda once again looked like the only real outlet when forcing the play (aside from Jack) and actually put in a good shift in the final third. A lot better than Cerci, anyway.
Gianluigi Donnarumma actually did well to thwart the shots that came his way while the defence went to sleep, and the free kick save in the second half was actually very difficult and impressive.
Giacomo Bonaventura was fantastic again. A rare creative spark for 90 minutes. I will not be the last to say it, but we will do very very well to keep him in January and long term for that matter. The way the current squad is, he is far far too good for Milan and that is indicative of the state of affairs.
4. Mental strength
Something that has bee a constant theme amongst these “5 things” articles has been my re-iteration that the team needs to show the mental capacity and capability to overcome adversity.
At half-time it would have been easy to say that the game was lost and that a draw would be the best result the team could get. However, the lads rebounded and produced the necessary moments of quality to win a very important game.
Despite the early setback, the second half was a lot better as Milan seized the game and really made it their own, scoring four goals in the process and it could have been a lot more.
The only concerning thing about that is that it didn’t happen in the first half, which was a lethargic and lazy showing. Much credit must go to Frosinone however, who made life very difficult.
5. New year, fresh start
It is no myth that had Milan won the two games prior to this (Carpi and Hellas Verona) the team would be sat in 4th position heading into the Christmas break.
Given the chaos and crisis surrounding the club, it would have been amazing to be in that position. Those games have happened though and cannot be dwelled upon.
The most important thing is that Mihajlovic rallies his men for much better and more consistent second half to the season. The European spots are still well and truly up for grabs providing the Rossoneri can get results against the teams around them.
Some new blood in January would help this obviously, but for now we can cling onto the hope that this team can achieve something remotely respectable this season.
That’s what I took from a thoroughly entertaining game of football between two teams who didn’t fancy defending much!
I wish all Milan fans a merry christmas and a happy new year!
Article by Oliver Fisher