After what us fans consider too many seasons of mediocrity, AC Milan are finally poised to return to their historically competitive status. Champions League qualification is in their grasp and now its up to the devils to retain it. Being this close to CL football is a feeling welcomed warmly by all of Milan and it’s supporters.
The biggest factor of this revival? One word, defense.
Put simply, Milan has been one of the most effective and efficient defenses this season, especially since the start of the new year. Up until the derby last Sunday, Milan allowed the fewest amount of goals (3) among all clubs in Europes’s Top Five leagues in 2019.
While Inter was able to crack the Rossoneri backline a few times last match, that doesn’t erase the impact of Milan’s defensive play this season. Along with the powerful performances of newcomers Piatek and Paqueta, the defense is arguably the biggest reason for Milan’s placement in 4th; sitting only 2 points behind 3rd.
While all the members of the Red and Black defense have contributed to the stellar team form, there are a few whose efforts have stood out. The first person that comes to my mind is that of Alessio Romagnoli.
What’s there to say, Romagnoli has been nothing short of a leader and a sentinel this season. His play, while not being perfect in every match this season, has improved compared to that of prior seasons. Not only in his excellent positioning in coverage, or rough and impeccable tackles, but in his manner as well.
Our #13 has embraced the role of Captiano; and he knows when it’s coach Rino Gattuso handing him the badge before the match, there’s no shortage of responsibility. Teammates rally to him both before and after the match, while during the match he’s a constructer. Constantly communicating between Donnarumma, the midfield, and Gattuso himself.
Speaking of Donnarumma, the now 20 year old keeper has been nothing short of stellar this year. Appearing in nine matches so far in 2019, GiGi has held clean sheets in five of them; and Milan have only lost once over that span.
The Italian starlet continues to prove why he’s been entrusted with the job of starting goalkeeper since he was 16. The controversial days are buried in the past and we have one of the best young talents in the world; and that’s a terrific feeling as a fan.
Though not technically a defender, another notable contribution to the defensive half of the pitch is midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko. Milans defense is a nearly impenetrable wall; and Bakayoko’s control, strength, and aggressiveness practically creates another wall in the middle.
To manage to fight of Baka, finesse past Romagnoli with his coordinated defense, and slip the ball past GiGi has become quite a formidable task indeed.
This combination of midfield tenacity, defensive consistency, and magical goalkeeping is what has made Milan one of the top defensive sides in all of Europe; and if it continues, then so does Milan’s rise back to the top of European football.