Fan article by Richard Gyasi (@gyasirichard3).
What could be better than hosting the table toppers after a moral boosting success on the road? Milan’s away win and performance against Sassuolo is a great fillip that will inject confidence and belief in the team for their next league games, but lots of work need to be done if Milan are to turn the corner.
Vincenzo Montella’s men shone against Sassuolo, just like they did against Chievo before Juventus extinguished any hope of form by inflicting a two-nil defeat on the Rossoneri at San Siro.
Lots of positives can be drawn from Milan’s win over Sassuolo, but once again, the true test of their mettle comes at home against one of the big guns, Napoli, and Montella’s side would need to produce a more stellar performance if they are to nick a win or earn a point.
Napoli currently sit at the top of the pile with a point above league champions Juventus and are tipped by many as favorites to win the Scudetto this season. Meanwhile the Diavolo’s aspirations of a Champions League berth are already hitting the rocks after a stuttering run of form. Defeats against Lazio, Sampdoria Roma, Inter, Juventus and a goalless draw with Genoa at San Siro has punctured the wave of optimism that greeted Milan’s summer transfer business.
Milan’s recent history against Maurizio Sarri’s team at Stadio San Paolo is not one Rossoneri fans would be proud of, as Milan have failed to record a win there since October 25, 2010! In their last six meetings away to Naples, the Partenopei knocked 16 balls into Milan’s net with 3-1, 2-2, 3-1, 3-0, 1-1 and 4-2 scorelines. In other words, Napoli will approach Sunday’s game in a confident buoyant mood, and Milan’s recent performances at San Paolo will augment that feeling.
In the meantime, there are still concerns at Milan that need to be addressed if they are to scale up the league table from 8th position. After more than three months of blooding, with the new faces and a few old ones together, Milan are not playing as a functioning coherent unit. Team cohesion and understanding is lacking in some department of their game and Montella is partly to be blamed for his continuous chopping and changing of personnel.
But for a moment of brilliance from Suso and Samir Handanović’s poor error on Bonaventura’s ball in the Derby Della Madonnina, Milan have been toothless in big games. A lot of fans are not sold on Montella’s decision to start Kalinić ahead of André Silva especially when you consider the amount the Rossoneri forked out to purchase the Portugal international. Now, while there is a lot of talk of Kalinić being the right fit for Montella’s system, the Croatian lacks the pace to trouble defenders and is easily beaten to the ball. Despite Kalinić’s towering presence, he doesn’t possess the predatory qualities of Inzaghi and neither can he take a game by the scruff of the neck like Zlatan.
Silva’s quality is not only in his aptitude to put the ball at the back of the net but his ball control, movement on and off the ball and ability to create scoring opportunities for himself and colleagues. These attributes make him right option to play upfront with support from Suso and Çalhanoğlu / Bonaventura. A consistent line up that involves these front three will produce movements and interplay that should cause problems for opponents and result in goals as each one of them have got trickery. At the moment Milan’s overreliance on Suso in attack should be a source of worry.
Concentration is a big problem for Milan’s defense in big games. The Rossoneri have conceded two second half goals against Lazio, Sampdoria, Roma, Inter and Juventus in the league and Rijeka in the Europa league. What is more troubling is the manner in which Milan have conceded goals this season: against Lazio, Montella’s team conceded in the 38’, 42’, 48’and 49’ minutes, while a similar pattern was repeated when Rijeka scored in the 84’ and 90’ minutes in the Europa League.
Despite Napoli’s goalless draw against Chievo, they’ve have got a knack of blowing teams away with disregard. Their robust midfield and fluent attack have shown a consistency in ruthlessness when in full flight, and Milan’s defense would need to produce the performance of their life to stop Napoli.