AC Milan

AC Milan’s post-lockdown form has been simply stunning, but without key players, they remain focused atop the Serie A table after 10 matches. 

Milan secured a gritty 2-1 win over Sampdoria on the same ground they dispatched their opponents 4-1 in the penultimate game of last season in July.

The Rossoneri have now stormed five points clear of Inter Milan after eight wins in 10 games. As they remain the only unbeaten Serie A side in the league since lockdown.

Franck Kessie
GENOA, ITALY – DECEMBER 06: Franck Kessie of AC Milan celebrates with team mate Brahim Diaz after scoring their sides first goal from the penalty spot during the Serie A match between UC Sampdoria and AC Milan at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on December 06, 2020 in Genoa, Italy. Sporting stadiums around Italy remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

However, Milan’s latest win was achieved without talisman Zlatan Ibrahimović, Simon Kjaær, and Ismaël Bennacer. A key trio in each department and major protagonists behind their revival and subsequent title charge this season. In their place, Brahim Díaz, Matteo Gabbia, and Sandro Tonali were handed a start at Stadio Luigi Ferraris in tough circumstances. 

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Zlatan might have considered retirement before joining Milan, but his motivation to return Milan to the top is proving true as he has scored 10 times in only six games. 

Since injuring his hamstring after netting a brace in the 3-1 win over Napoli, Zlatan has missed the last three league games but Milan have kept their unbeaten run and keep scoring goals at a canter.

Against Samp, the league leaders were comfortable until their 2-nil lead was halved eight minutes from time.

The lack of rhythm was apparent in the early stages for the depleted Milan, however, Stefano Pioli was able to call upon Jens Petter Hauge and Samu Castillejo from the bench to contribute to the latter’s eventual winner with his first touch of the game.

Ante Rebic
Milan have now scored in each of their last 30 Serie A games.

They do rightly owe a lot of their current position to Ibrahimović, but on this occasion, Ante Rebić was immense in the Swede’s central striking role, as his linkup play proved a focal point in a difficult game.

“I continue to be surprised by the maturity of these players,” Pioli told Sky Italia.

“Even though it was probably the youngest side we’ve had all year. They never let themselves get downhearted by bad results or go overboard with good ones, they really impressed me.”

“We live in the moment with satisfaction. We all know how much Zlatan has given us. We know that our work is deep. We want to show that we are a great team. We must be more attentive on set pieces. We like to play at a high rhythm.”

Although the San Siro outfit are displaying a weakness at set-pieces, they still possess the league’s second-tightest defence having conceded only one more goal than fourth-placed Juventus.  

Milan look set to go all the way for their first league title since 2011, and it won’t be an easy feat to dislodge the Nine-time champions, Juve. Crucially, it appears they are prepared to do so with a united, focused squad.

Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin
December 7, 2020
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Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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