Milan, Paqueta and Bakayoko impress, but Piatek holds the key to their success

22 January at 12:00
Milan’s win away at Genoa yesterday sent a clear message to their rivals. While it is clear they cannot compete for the final Champions League place without a top class striker, the team have shown since the return from the winter break that they can cope with adversity, and have shown a willingness to rally around their manager who has come under increased pressure in recent weeks.

Milan have secured back to back wins over Genoa, first in the Coppa Italia and then in Serie A yesterday, following on from their fine performance in the Suppercoppa in Jeddah last week. Milan appeared to be more solid than ever yesterday, soaking up pressure from Genoa in the first half before striking twice in the second half to take all three points. Added to that Suso made a successful return to the side, scoring the Rossoneri’s second goal. Paqueta’s exploits also impressed many, but it was Bakayoko’s performance that might be seen as the greatest positive to come out of yesterday’s game. He was heavily criticised at the start of his Milan career, but has improved massively in recent games, especially in terms of his tactical discipline. Bakayoko seems to be further evidence of Leonardo’s abilities in the transfer market.

Leonardo’s main job now will undoubtedly be to secure an effective replacement for outgoing striker Gonzalo Higuaín, a decision on which Milan’s hopes of reaching next seasons Champions League rest. Leonardo has identified Piatek as the solution to Milan’s striker problem, and believes the young Pole can continue his fantastic form for Genoa from earlier in the season with Milan. But recent history has shown that it is impossoble to tell how a player will react to playing in the San Siro, and especially a player such as Piatek, who has been catapulted from the Polish league, to potentially the driving force behind Milan’s push for Champions League qualification in the space of a few months. However this season ends, it has been markedly different to last season for Milan. They go into the next round of fixtures sitting in fourth place, with a healthy and united team.

Credit must go to Gattuso, but also to the players, who have performed for him in difficult times. Donnarumma especially must receive his fair share of praise for recent perfomances. Last season he was viewed by many Milan fans as a mercenary, and a traitor, and his performance was undoubtedly affected by this. This season however, he looks decisive and has made some world class saves, like those he made yesterday against Genoa, that have single handedly won points for the Rossoneri.

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