Milan bounced back with a win in Verona to hold onto their second-place spot in the Serie A table.
Despite the absences of many first-team players, Pioli got his tactics right with a convincing 2-0 win over in-form Hellas Verona. Milan’s injury list rose to nine players before the match and it looked like these injuries would be too much to handle, but the depth players showed initiative and confidence in what would be a great team performance. This game will be a huge morale boost for the team, especially with the upcoming match in Manchester on Thursday.
If there was one player who stepped up this game, it would be none other than Rade Krunic. He’s faced a lot of criticism as of late, especially with all the injuries in the squad, but the Bosnian delivered with a brilliant free-kick goal on top of what was a superb performance. Recently he has been linked with an exit, however, if he can continue his current form towards the later parts of the season, he may end up staying.
Diogo Dalot was another surprise in this match, scoring the second goal for Milan. He has not had a good run of form recently and playing as a left-back has not helped him given he is more comfortable as a right-back. However, Dalot put in a decent performance and scored a beauty that would kill off any chances of a Verona comeback. The Portuguese defender came to Milan with a lot of hype, especially with his high valuation, but has yet to deliver. There have been talks to lower his price and keep him for next season, but Dalot still has much to prove. Hopefully he can build on today’s performance.
Soualiho Meite is another player who has received a fair share of criticism since his January arrival. He has not been at Milan for that long, seven weeks to be exact, and has not had enough time to adapt, especially with getting more and more game time with the injury list growing. However, the Frenchman brought a much-needed physical presence to Milan’s midfield today, and it looks like he’s finding his feet after a few shaky performances. His future remains unclear, but if he can continue to put in good performances, Milan will certainly consider activating his buy-out clause at the end of the season.
The defensive partnership between Fikayo Tomori and captain Alessio Romagnoli was solid today. Tomori brought speed and physicality to Milan’s backline whereas the latter helped greatly with the team’s build-up play. Verona were limited to only one shot on goal throughout the entire ninety minutes, and Milan will need to replicate this success if they want to have a chance at beating Manchester United.
The only negative in today’s win was Rafael Leao’s performance up top as a striker. The Portuguese made little impact on the game and his body language described his frustration perfectly. Naturally a winger, Leao has proved that he’s incapable of filling in for Ibrahimovic as a target man. He has trouble holding up play and creating space for himself, something that Ibrahimovic has done week in and week out. He has not found the back of the net since early January, which is another reason as to why he cannot serve as a striker in Pioli’s 4-2-3-1 system.
With a tough set of fixtures approaching in the coming weeks, Pioli and his team will need to find a way to pull through if they want to materialize their achievements into some silverware.
Milan will have limited time to prepare and many players unavailable to field, needless to say, it will be an anxious month for Rossoneri fans across the globe.