In Milan’s latest fixture, they played Lazio away at the Stadio Olimpico. Coming off a two match winning streak, expectations were high for the Rossoneri to continue this winning streak against the Biancocelesti. Milan would do just that putting in arguably their best performance of this latest edition of the Serie A campaign. Milan earned a 3-1 away victory with goals from Andrea Bertolacci, Philippe Mexès, and Carlos Bacca.
Milan manager Siniša Mihajlović had the following to say after Milan’s big result, via Football Italia:
We were solid and always closed down our opponents quickly. We knew it would be a difficult game, but the team spirit was on show. We won deservedly, I can only say I am happy. I don’t know about calling this a turning point, we still have to take it one game at a time. This is our third straight win and we’ve climbed the table. We play with less fear now and since we changed system to 4-3-3 we are under less pressure at the back. The lads did very well and I thank them for this performance. If we hadn’t made the step up in quality before, it was purely our fault, but today we showed progress. It’s no coincidence that with the change of system we picked up 10 points in four games. We are on the right track and now must continue. Saturday against Atalanta, that could be the turning point.
As Mihajlović mentioned in his post-match conference, perhaps the biggest reason for this good string of results is the switch made from the narrow 4-3-1-2 formation to a wider 4-3-3 formation that utilizes two wingers to help give more support to Milan’s big summer signing, Carlos Bacca up front in the attack. Before, we would see Milan struggle to create chances with the 4-3-1-2 formation, which is extremely dependent upon a trequartista, or the attacking midfielder that plays behind the two strikers. Clearly, this system just wasn’t working and since the change to the 4-3-3 formation, the Milan players seem to have found a new energy and drive to play. For the first time in a while, the players are seen expressing themselves on the pitch. They move up the pitch to attack with a confidence that has been missing for most of this season. There’s even some chemistry between the players starting to form, which can only spell good things for the former Sampdoria boss.
With the inclusion of Giacomo Bonaventura and Alessio Cerci on the wings, both Italian internationals have been crucial in Milan’s recent good form. They both are playing with a refreshed mindset and are showing just how good they could be. Bonaventura, in particular, leads Serie A with five assists illustrating how instrumental the former Atalanta man has been for Milan. Thanks to Bonaventura and Cerci, Milan’s fullbacks, Luca Antonelli and Mattia De Sciglio, are also able to move forward and get involved in the attack without having to risk leaving space behind them. Their inclusion also helps Milan’s midfield trio of Andrea Bertolacci, Riccardo Montolivo, and Juraj Kucka to have more options to find with their passes, which weren’t present before. Both Milan wingers are able to make their runs and receive a well-timed pass from the midfield. Then, they are able to create dangerous chances inside the box for their teammates. For once, there seems to be an understanding between the the midfield and attack. As a result, Milan’s play has become less predictable and they are able to attack from all sides leaving the opposition guessing about how to contain the red and black attack.
Cerci had the following to say after the match against Lazio, via Football Italia:
This is football, I went through a difficult moment, but people forget quickly if you show that you want to win,” Cerci told Mediaset Premium. We must continue putting in strong performances and be consistent now. We are Milan and we are forced to always give something more. We really wanted to get the three points here, we knew that we were coming off a positive period of form and knew that we could win here. We stepped on to the field with the victory in our minds. I think it’s a great Milan win.
For Milan, the ship finally seems to be turning into the right direction with this new found style and system of play that Mihajlović has embedded into the team. Luckily, the rest of team’s schedule before the Christmas break isn’t nearly as difficult as it was for them in the beginning of the season.
Milanisti will be hoping the team can keep performing well and getting results to stay in the top 5 of the table. With Bonaventura and Cerci playing so well, it seems this hope can almost become a reality if they can keep their good form and stay healthy. Both men have given Milan supporters a new found hope that this can turn out to be a good season for the Rossoneri, with a hopeful return to European play.