AC Milan’s impressive win away to Hella Verona on Sunday afternoon brought them three points behind city rivals Inter with them to play Atalanta on Monday evening.
Milan fielded a fairly makeshift XI with a number of their players not having regular football in their legs. The same players who for the first half of the season were being asked to fill gaps in a very consistent and fixed starting XI are now being asked to become the regulars and offer more consistent performances.
Injuries to key players like Simon Kjaer, Ismael Bennacer, Ante Rebic, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Theo Hernandez, and Hakan Calhanoglu have meant that they have been trying to find solutions in those key positions.
Fikayo Tomori and Diogo Dalot
The Chelsea loanee Tomori was initially brought in as defensive cover, but has impressed in his first appearances and seems to have cemented his place in the team.
With Simon Kjaer struggling to stay fit, Tomori has stepped up to the challenge, with the Milan directors talking about the possibility of triggering his clause to keep him permanently with the Rossoneri.
Diogo Dalot, who also is mainly being used as full-back cover, hasn’t disappointed when selected, and chipping in with a goal against Verona can only help increase his confidence.
Sandro Tonali or Soualiho Meite
One of the key positions that Milan has failed to find a regular replacement is in central midfield alongside the ever-present Franck Kessie who has become the real leader and talisman of the team making 38 appearances in all competitions.
With Bennacer missing the majority of the last few months, Tonali and Meite have both been given the chance to fill the void with neither grabbing the opportunity with both hands to cement their place alongside Kessie. They will be hoping to form a new midfield partnership until Bennacer returns.
No real No.9
Although Ibrahimovic has caught many of the headlines this season, he has missed a significant number of games. The style of play Milan try to draw from their centre-forward is vital as it acts as their foundation to build off when progressing up the pitch.
Mario Mandzukic was signed in January to offer a similar presence as Ibrahimovic but he hasn’t managed to make an impact as of yet so Rafael Leao and Ante Rebic have both been trying their hand as makeshift strikers. Rebic and Leao have done well in spells when playing as strikers but they struggle to offer the physical presence that Ibrahimovic or Mandzukic would.
Despite the key absences, Milan continue to progress with their main objective of a top-four finish, and the dream of winning the league still a possibility.