Performance Evaluation: M’Baye Niang versus Sampdoria

On Saturday, Milan hosted Sampdoria at the San Siro. Former Blucerchiati manager Siniša Mihajlović made a few adjustments to his tactical setup and with the 4-1 victory in favor of the Rossoneri, saying they paid off would be an understatement.

After suffering a 1-0 defeat to Juventus last weekend, Mihajlović was quick to adjust how his men took the pitch against Sampdoria. From a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2, French international M’Baye Niang started up front alongside Carlos Bacca, immediately applying pressure from the opening whistle. This adjustment allowed Niang to really flourish and become more involved as oppose to being limited on the left wing where some of his qualities don’t seem to shine as much.

Niang played the best game of his career with Milan, scoring twice while also assisting Giacomo Bonaventura’s goal which opened up the scoring in the first half. His first goal came from the penalty spot after Bonaventura was dragged down by Sampdoria fullback Lorenzo De Silvestri. The French attacker, with confidence, demanded the penalty and finished with authority into the upper left corner. The second goal came after a goalkeeping blunder by Emiliano Viviano where he intercepted a pass before calmly moving into position for an easy finish.

The performance by Niang was very impressive. We saw his full repertoire on display: Passing (particularly on the Bonaventura goal), flair (back heels), superb first touch, movement, physicality but most importantly, confidence.

It’s clear from the scoreline that Niang had a major impact on the result. Here are some statistics to further dissect the performance by the former Caen striker, via FourFourTwo:

Niang could have scored perhaps three goals last night. His involvement in the final third was on another level. But aside from his brace, he was heavily involved in the build ups. By no means was he cemented around goal as stats support:

After the commanding victory by Mihajlović and his men, Niang spoke about his performance, praising his side for their performance while thanking those who have supported him throughout. Niang, according to the official club site:

“I am delighted to have got on the score-sheet and above all that we won tonight. We must keep on this path. We have all the qualities to have a great season. I feel the backing of the club, and even before my goals tonight, they were always close to me and have always rated me as an important player. My brace tonight is for all those that have supported me. We took to the pitch tonight with the desire to win and we’re very happy. Our aim was to come away with maximum points. We’re Milan and we have to always win.” 

M’Baye Niang had a marvelous match and one that has given Milan supporters another reason to feel optimistic moving forward. Mihajlović has a handful of active attackers that he can lean towards in Bacca, Luiz Adriano and Niang, with Mario Balotelli also in the mix once he returns from his injury.

Credit to Mihajlović. He has shown throughout this season that he is willing to experiment with players and rotate others in order to find the best eleven on that match day. When Milan began the 2015/16 season, Bacca and Luiz Adriano appeared to be the top two strikers in a 4-3-1-2. However, it appears that Niang has claimed a hold of a starting spot and looks unwilling to let it go after his stellar showing against Sampdoria.


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