Three games without either being beaten or conceding a goal in Serie A, represents the assured and serene progress which AC Milan are currently making under the guidance of Vicenzo Montella.
Over recent weeks the 42-year-old manager has instilled both belief and confidence in his players, who have vividly exhibited that by producing a trio of collectively solid performances.
Each of those has yielded a positive result for I Rossoneri, as they have been rewarded for their current three-game unbeaten run by moving from 15th to 6th in the Serie A table.
Montella inspires upturn in Milan’s fortunes
Subsequently Milan’s response to losing successive matches to Napoli and Udinese, after a thrilling 3-2 opening day victory against Torino, has been extremely impressive and indicative that they are amidst a steady spell of improvement.
As the chief engineer of that improvement Montella is creating a defensively solid and resolute team that is not only industrious but also enterprising, with that proven to be the case by the positive manner in which Milan began their current unbeaten run with a 1-0 victory over Sampdoria.
Bacca-Niang partnership blossoms
Ironically that was the Rossoneri’s first away success in Serie A since beating the Genoese – based club, whom Montella left to join Milan, by the same score line in April, with the winning goal on both occasions being scored by Carlos Bacca.
At present, along with Napoli’s Jose Callejon, Andrea Belotti of Torino, the 30-year-old striker is the second joint top scorer in Serie A this season with five goals, just one behind Mauro Icardi.
Subsequently Bacca’s importance to Milan is incalculable, since he has scored five of his team’s eight Serie A goals, as the Columbian internationalist’s strike partnership with M’Baye Niang undergoes sustained development.
Whilst the pair was well contained by the defence of Fiorentina – who Montella managed for three years prior to his spell with Sampdoria – during the Rossoneri’s recent goalless draw against Paulo Sousa’s, both Bacca and Niang scored in Milan’s previous Serie A match, which ended in a 2-0 victory over Lazio at the San Siro. The margin of that win had the potential to be far greater, since Niang was guilty of missing several excellent chances, although the 21-year-old kept his composure to score with a penalty kick to seal victory for Milan.
Throughout the game their Slovakian midfielder Juraj Kucka played with control, guile and poise, as he provided an assist for the goal scored by Bacca, whilst also providing excellent service to both the former Sevilla striker and Niang.
Youthful class and exuberance permeates Milan side
Ultimately Niang possess great potential to improve, whilst so too do a number of other young Italian players who have featured in Milan’s first team this season including goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma along with the defensive trio of Davide Calabria, Alessio Romagnoli, Matteo De Sciglio.
The youthful quartet and Gabriel Paletta have formed Milan’s defensive base, the average age of which has been 22, in the Rossoneri’s last two Serie A games, to help their team keep successive clean sheets.
Despite being fortunate not to concede against Fiorentina, since Josip Ilicic missed a penalty for the first team in his Serie A career, Milan nevertheless fought valiantly to earn an eventually deserved point.
Milan’s bright new outlook with Montella at the helm
In doing so I Rossoneri ensured a continuation of their steady progress which Montella has engineered since being subjected to witnessing his side produce a tepid performance to lose 1-0 to Udinese at the San Siro three Serie A games ago.
Since then both Milan’s results and performances have been consistently positive, with them creating a solid platform upon which they can potentially challenge to secure a top three finish in Serie A and therefore earn qualification to the Champions League for the first time since season 2013-2014.
Ultimately achieving that constitutes a difficult challenge for Milan but by no means an insurmountable one, particularly given the fine progress they’re making under Montella’s intelligent guidance.