AC Milan 3-0 Empoli: Highlighting the positives for Gattuso’s men

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Despite a lacklustre first-half performance, AC Milan managed to get themselves together during the break, eventually scoring three goals to seal a comfortable win against Empoli. 

However, as said, it didn’t look all too well in the first half. After Paqueta had a goal disallowed correctly by VAR, the Rossoneri seeminly lost energy to find new solutions, almost looking like they were in the lead already. Fortunately, they were able to turn this around in the second half, perhaps thanks to a successful speech by Gattuso during the break.

In fact, in a matter of minutes, AC Milan secured the win by putting two goals past the away side’s goalkeeper. Piatek got on the scoresheet first, as Calhanoglu picked him out brilliantly in the box. Thanks to this goal, the Polish striker has equalled Oliver Bierhoff’s record from 1998, having scored in his first four consecutive league starts.

Just two minutes later, Kessie added to the lead as Castillejo managed to get past two defenders, before freeing the Ivorian in the middle. The tirelessly working midfielder chipped the goalkeeper and so Gattuso’s men had completed a misery compiler. The fun didn’t end there as Castillejo extended the lead 15 minutes later, capitalizing on a brilliant cross from Conti.

All in all, a very convincing victory by Milan, who are now just one point behind Inter in third place. However, the Nerazzurri of course have a game in hand: facing Fiorentina on Sunday evening. In any case, the three points are absolutely crucial as the Rossoneri look to distance themselves from Atalanta, Lazio and Roma.

So, what positives can we take from the game? Based on the second half, there are many moments to choose from. The centreback duo, consisting of Musacchio and Romagnoli, did really well to close down the opponents, who only had one shot on target all game. In addition to this, Biglia made his return coming back from injury, and performed quite well even though the game was done by then.

More importantly, Castillejo proved that he’s certainly worthy of replacing Suso on the right flank. In the first half, he seemed to be the only real threat, and performed to the best of his abilities in the last 45 minutes. One goal and one assist to his name, does it get much better than that? Even though Suso remains the favourite for the RW position, Samu has without a doubt given Gattuso something to think about.

Having scored three+ goals in three consecutive league games (for the first time since December 2012), the Rossoneri have subsequently improved their goal difference, which was pretty boring a few weeks ago. If this will prove decisive at the end of the season remains to be seen, but it’s certainly refreshing to see a Milan side scoring many goals (while also conceding little).

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AC Milan show great signs of strength to get past Atalanta

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AC Milan grabbed their first away win against Atalanta since 2015 this evening, managing to put three goals past Berisha between the sticks despite only having three shots on target. 

In other words, the Rossoneri claimed three important points in the Champions League race, securing their spot in fourth place for yet another week. Given how well Atalanta have performed as of late, many were worried beforehand, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t one of them.

The hosts quickly took control of the game, as expected, leaving Milan with a lot of defending to do early on. In addition to this, Atalanta pressured the Rossoneri’s backline aggressively, which gave Gattuso’s men a tough time throughout the encounter. This was very clear especially in the first half, as Milan really struggled to get out of their own half.

Luckily, once the half-time break approached, Atalanta for once decided to sit back during the one minute that was added on, having taken the lead earlier on. However, this proved costly as Rodriguez was able to advance on the left flank, eventually finding Piatek in the box, and the Polish International made no mistakes with a fantastic finish. A big goal just before the break, as it turned out.

Many fans, myself included, were disappointed as Atalanta once again gained momentum in the second half. Luckily, the Rossoneri players meant business, and a poor clearance was converted by the heavily criticised Calhanoglu. The Turk’s thunderous strike put his side in front, completely against the run of play.

Six minutes later, Piatek added another one to his name as Calhanoglu’s corner fell perfectly for the striker. Beforehand, there was a lot of talk about the Piatek-Zapata duel, and the third goal pretty much summed out how that went. Atalanta’s target man completely lost track of ‘El Pistolero’ in the box, and it didn’t help that his goalkeeper failed to get there as well.

From there on, Milan just had to focus on defending, and so they did. Gasperini, the hosts’ manager, also took off Papu Gomez and Zapata, who arguably are their best players as of now. Therefore, the Rossoneri were able to see the game out, sending a big signal to the teams behind and in front of them in the standings.

More importantly, not just looking at the standings, it will be a big boost for the team’s confidence. Calhanoglu was finally rewarded for his hard work, which in many ways can relieve some pressure for his teammates as well. In addition to this, Piatek added two more goals to his tally in the quest for the Capocannoniere title.

The team is certainly thriving, and for the first time in a long while, Champions League qualification seems like a realistic goal for Gattuso’s men. Up next is Empoli, who are struggling at the bottom of the standings, and the visit to San Siro on Friday could make their matters even worse.

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Three things we learned from AC Milan’s three-goal win against Cagliari

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AC Milan managed to beat Cagliari at the San Siro earlier this evening, completely dominating the opponents for a majority of the game. In fact, the Rossoneri set a new record for the number of shots on goal under Gattuso (11), which ultimately resulted in a 3-0 win.  

Once again, the new boys Paqueta and Piatek proved to be the difference the Rossoneri have searched for. The first goal, however, was gifted by the away side’s captain, Ceppitelli, whose touch on Cragno’s rebound put Milan in front. The lead was then extended just ten minutes later as Calabria’s wonderful cross was met by Paqueta at the back post, with the Brazilian making no mistakes on the volley.

Of course, Krzysztof Piatek couldn’t leave the pitch without getting on the scoresheet. As luck would have it, after a scrappy situation, the Polish striker was at the right place at the right time, putting the game to bed with Milan’s third goal. Down below are three things we learned from this important win.

1. Calabria proving his qualities amidst all the debate 

Davide certainly had a great game at right-back, further proving why he should be given the nod ahead of Conti, who’s a bit of a fan favourite. Defensively, the 22-year-old was absolutely flawless, closing down the right flank on numerous occasions.

When going forward, he wasn’t too shabby either. As previously mentioned, he was responsible for a beautiful assist to Paqueta, and he could’ve had a goal himself. However, Cragno just about claimed it after a nice flick by Calabria which beat the defender.

2. Paqueta once again crucial in every aspect

Since arriving, the Brazilian has started all of the games, which in itself is a sign of strength. Rightfully so, he’s been given the chance and boy has he taken it. Today’s game was no exception, as the midfielder continued to perform in the defence, midfield and attack.

His ability to link up with his new teammates, especially Calhanoglu, has quite frankly been stunning. This evening, he also got a goal to show for his efforts, making it all look so easy. Moving forward, he will continue to be crucial for Gattuso’s side.

3. Donnarumma’s 150th appearance – another clean sheet

Gigio, who’s arguably been the best Milan player in the last few weeks, made his 150th appearance (all comps) for the club this evening. Having kept 51 clean sheets ahead of the game, the Rossoneri defenders helped him add yet another to this tally.

Luckily for Milan, the number 99 has seemingly returned to consistently putting in great performances, as was further proven today. The defenders didn’t play poorly by any means, but their goalkeeper was called into action a few times, and he did everything right.

Overall, it was a great display by the entire team, and Gattuso should be happy with the efforts ahead of the important clash with Atalanta next weekend.

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Three points against Roma would complete perfect week for AC Milan

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On Sunday evening, AC Milan will take on the team just behind them in the standings, AS Roma, who are within one point’s distance of the Rossoneri. In other words, Gattuso’s men will look to top off the week with yet another big win, following perhaps their best performance of the season last time out. 

Milan knocked out Napoli of the Coppa Italia after the debutant Krzysztof Piatek scored twice within just 27 minutes, certainly proving his worth straight away. In addition to the Polish brilliance up front, the Rossoneri’s defenders were fantastic in keeping the Partenopei’s attackers far from Donnarumma, as the away side didn’t get many chances to work with. Continue reading

Three things we learned from AC Milan’s dominance against Napoli

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Unlike last time out, AC Milan weren’t going to settle for a draw this evening as Napoli visited the San Siro once again to play for a spot in the Coppa Italia semi-finals. New signing Piatek made sure that this wish was fulfilled, grabbing a brace in the first half. 

The Rossoneri put in one of their best, if not the best, performances of the season, playing incredibly well especially in defence. Napoli barely got any chances despite putting Gattuso’s men over a ton of pressure, with Kessie and Bakayoko doing very well to block off the space in front of the defence. Down below are three things we learned from the game, pinpointing the highlights.  Continue reading

Piatek’s inspiring AC Milan debut bodes well for the future

Although they didn’t grab all three points, AC Milan managed to keep an offensive-minded Napoli eleven from scoring last night, earning a well-deserved point to keep hold of fourth place in the standings.

The game itself was very much end-to-end stuff, with both sides looking dangerous on the counter-attacks, though failing to keep their composure in the vital moments. In other words, the game could certainly have gone either way, and thus one could argue that a draw is a fair result.

Of course, the Rossoneri would’ve hoped to snatch all three points, but the composure needed just wasn’t there, although the game offered some promising signs ahead of the remainder of the season. Naming one, Gattuso’s men are looking more and more solid at the back after a rocky start to the season in that aspect, with Romagnoli being the captain Milan so badly need.

In addition to this, the attack is more energetic than it was just a few weeks ago, New signing Paqueta has been linking up perfectly with Calhanoglu, and although the latter has received a lot of criticism, he certainly offered a lot to the team last night. However, there is still some work to be done in regards to the end product, though there’s no doubt this will come with time.

Up front, Cutrone had a tough game last night, though he wasn’t by any means poor, just not as effective as he can be with the ball. Therefore, Gattuso brought on another new signing, Piatek, who got roughly 20 minutes to show for his worth. To the delight of the Rossoneri fans, he proved how lethal he can be when receiving the ball in the box.

Just five minutes after coming on, Piatek created some space for himself with a great first touch to bring the ball into his stride. However, Koulibaly made a great tackle to deny the Polish striker’s attempt. On the following corner, Piatek was once again on the end of the ball, heading it through to Musacchio. The defender was forced to try an acrobatic shot which Ospina denied brilliantly.

In other words, the €35m man was thrown straight into the action, and really took the opportunity to impress coach Gattuso. In fact, as reported by Sky Italia, the 40-year-old will most likely field the same lineup against Napoli on Tuesday (Coppa Italia), with the exception being Piatek, who could replace Cutrone upfront.

Likely AC Milan XI (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Bakayoko, Paqueta; Suso, Piatek, Calhanoglu.

Hopefully, the Rossoneri will have learned from Saturday’s encounter, using this in their advantage on Tuesday evening. After all, a spot in the semi-finals of Coppa Italia is on the line, making it an important game.

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AC Milan need more than right approach against Napoli

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AC Milan will be looking to grab a third consecutive league win as they take on Napoli at the San Siro on Saturday evening. However, the odds are not exactly in the Rossoneri’s favour, though there’s hope for Rossoneri fans after recent signs of improvement. 

Napoli has been of the boogie teams for Gattuso’s men in recent years, even at the San Siro, which really doesn’t bode well for tomorrow’s encounter. In fact, the Partenopei have won three of their last five away games against the Rossoneri, losing only one of these. In that sense, Gattuso achieved quite a good result last time Napoli visited the San Siro, as the game ended 0-0.

With a reinforced squad this season, and some would say a better one, Milan will hope to get more out of the game this team, in order to stay in the top four. However, the road this season hasn’t always been an easy one, though it seems the team is slowly picking up after a spell of boring draws. More importantly, the squad is playing with a consistency that can get them through tough games, such as against Sampdoria and Genoa.

Since the likes of Calabria, Kessie and Romagnoli have returned from suspension, while Zapata is injured, Gattuso is expected to make four changes to the starting eleven. Despite performing well last time out, getting a crucial assist, Conti will start on the bench, as Calabria has been deemed more suitable for this game.

Up front, Cutrone will occupy the centre-forward spot. It’s unclear if we will see the new boy Krzysztof Piatek tomorrow or not, but it’s certain that he won’t play from the first minute, at least. Gattuso has tended to bring on an extra striker whenever the Rossoneri are in need of a goal, or when Cutrone gets tired: two likely scenarios for tomorrow’s game.

No matter who plays, though, the right approach won’t cut it for Gattuso’s men. This has been a talking point as of late, getting the players mentally prepared. While that is very important, just this aspect isn’t enough. Against Juve in the Supercoppa final, the players were clearly motivated in the right way, but lacked the quality to make use of it. Therefore, getting things right tomorrow will be equally as important as entering the pitch with the right mind.

“Napoli won’t have Allan but Ancelotti has a deep squad. We need a great performance tomorrow to take the points home with us. They are a really strong team,” Gattuso stated during the press conference.

Since the Rossoneri will face Napoli on Tuesday as well, that time in the Coppa Italia, this game will also be an opportunity to study the Partenopei. Of course, the league game must be considered the most important one, but it wouldn’t hurt to be extra prepared for the Coppa Italia quarter-final.

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Slow-starting AC Milan grab crucial win despite absence of key players

Despite a very sluggish first-half performance, AC Milan managed to turn things around in the second half as two quick goals secured the win against Genoa in front of a ‘small crowd’. As a result of this, the Rossoneri are now fourth in the standings. 

The stadium was, understandably so, almost empty, or at least it certainly didn’t feel like a Genoa home game. This was, of course, due to the kick-off time (15:00) which caused great anger among the Genoa ultras, who decided to skip the game as a protest.  Continue reading

AC Milan forced to play without four starters against Genoa

Gattuso’s men are coming off a disappointing loss against Juventus in the Supercoppa Italia final, although one could argue that it was expected. In any case, Milan did show positive signs during the first 60 minutes, which they will be hoping to replicate tomorrow. 

After the game was rescheduled due to safety reasons, AC Milan will face Genoa away from home at 15:00 (local time) on Monday, rather than 21:00. This decision has angered many of the fans, who due to other commitments won’t be able to attend. In addition to this, it’s been reported that Genoa ultras will skip the game as a protest. Continue reading

Cutrone deserves to start; Gattuso refuses to rule out Higuain departure

AC Milan advanced to the quarter-finals of Coppa Italia after beating Sampdoria by two goals to nil away from home. However, the road there wasn’t exactly convincing, as the Rossoneri just about managed to hold on until extra-time, when Cutrone changed it all. 

Ahead of the Supercup final on Wednesday, Milan fans would’ve been hoping for a convincing display this evening, or at least a better one than what we got. For a majority of the game, Sampdoria seemingly dominated Gattuso’s side, only failing to beat a brilliant Reina in goal. Although Milan also had chances, one of which was very dangerous, it seemed after 90 minutes of play that perhaps Sampdoria deserved to go through. Continue reading