After losing two consecutive games, AC Milan were in dire need of a win as the pressure had started to mount on head coach Gennaro Gattuso, as well as the players. Luckily, the Rossoneri managed to claim all three points against Sampdoria, although it was far from easy.
Ahead of the game, given the situation of the team, Gattuso decided to switch formation, abandoning his favourite 4-3-3. Instead, he chose to field a 4-4-2 formation, which allowed Cutrone and Higuain to play together from the first minute. In hindsight, this decision proved decisive for Gattuso’s men.
The Rossoneri managed to take an early lead as Suso, who didn’t seem bothered at all about playing further down the pitch, found Cutrone in the box with a lovely cross. The latter made no mistakes with the header, finishing the move with class. However, due to their continuous defence struggles, Milan conceded two goals in quick succession, with Quagliarella and Saponara combining on both goals.
As opposed to several other games we’ve seen this season, though, Gattuso’s men seemingly picked themselves up, doing their best to get back on level pegging. In fact, they did get a reward for their hard work just before half-time as Higuain received the ball in the box, eventually using Cutrone for a quick one-two, which resulted in the Argentinian firing in the equaliser.
In the second half, Milan then looked more secure overall, which is something that Gattuso will be very pleased about. After a few attempts, Suso then put the home side in front with a great curling effort, while Cutrone did well to block the goalkeeper’s sight. From there on, Sampdoria never really threatened the Rossoneri, who claimed all three points.
For Gattuso, this victory is life-saving. Even though many fans are on his side, a majority have been calling for his exit in the past two weeks. Therefore, even though the performance was far from perfect, the three points is all that matters at the time being. In fact, the win even puts them back in the Champions League race, as they are now fifth with a game in hand.
With that said, you have to give credit where credit is due. The change of formation by Gattuso proved successful, and it’s likely that the Rossoneri will continue with the 4-4-2 against Genoa on Wednesday evening. In other words, Milan could be on their way back after a poor run of results.
Having said that, though, they will need to find a solution to their defensive woes, failing to keep a clean sheet in the last 15 league games. Unfortunately, Caldara won’t be back until a few months from now, meaning Musacchio will really have to step up. In my view, he’s to blame for the first goal today, failing to close down Saponara at a crucial moment. In addition to this, he kept Quagliarella onside on the second goal. Then again, we all know how good Musacchio can be once the defence works as a unit.
In short, there are certainly still things to work on, but perhaps Gattuso and Milan have found the right path to move forward on.
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