AC Milan have won their first three Serie A matches of the season without conceding a goal only for the third time in history, the best possible way to gear up for the upcoming derby against Inter, scheduled on October 17 after the international break.
The Rossoneri’s 3-0 win against Spezia, however, was not as effortless as the scoreline suggests – the hosts struggled to pose significant threats in the first half, during which the newly-promoted side looked able to cope with the Milan attack, as the Stadio San Siro outfit lacked the pace and creativity needed to unhinge an apparently solid defence.
Such difficulties prompted coach Stefano Pioli to bring in Hakan Calhanoglu, who had started from the bench after playing 120 minutes in Milan last Thursday’s shootout drama against Rio Ave and made an immediate impact on the game by gifting Rafael Leao with a nice assist that saw the Portuguese break the deadlock.
Milan may have not seemed as brilliant as in their Serie A opening day against Bologna but there were plenty of positive signs in their latest performance, as the team gave proof of their patience and increasing maturity despite having to deal with many crucial absences, with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ante Rebic, Alessio Romagnoli all ruled out for the contest.
Some tougher tests now await the Diavolo, but what is certain is that such confident start to the season already marks an improvement compared to their troubled recent past, when Milan’s regular slip-ups, even against some soft opponents, prevented them from competing with more consistent sides in the race for the top four.
This time, the same task seems within the Rossoneri’s grasp, although only time will tell whether they’ll be able to endure a packed game schedule once their Europa League group stage gets underway in late October.
At the moment, the players’ trust in Pioli ideas and a boost in confidence which has been evident since football resumed after the break forced by the COVID-19 have been enough to compensate for the absence of some of the team’s pivotal elements.
Milan’s progress should not be taken from granted but there’s still much work to do for the former Fiorentina boss – the Rossoneri will undoubtedly benefit from the return of their sidelined key players, but their character should be assessed by their ability to go through the most difficult times of the season, a stage that every team has to endure in order to achieve success and one that has punctually exposed in recent years.
Their squad is littered with promising prospects waiting for the chance. If they can add temperament to the talent they’ve already showed, Milan’s future can be bright.