While Milan’s recent loss to Juventus came in the biggest game of the season so far, Saturday’s clash against Torino was their second most important game of this campaign.
I Rossoneri finally succumbed to their first loss of the 2020/21 season against the Old Lady on Wednesday night, losing 3-1 in a fierce encounter, albeit with a heavily exhausted squad.
The loss left Inter just one point behind the leaders, and Juve’s deficit narrowed to seven points, instead of Milan increasing it to a 13-point chasm with a win. A reaction was needed from the league leaders to show their courage, having suffered such a painful setback against an inevitable and formidable foe like I Bianconeri.
What did we learn from Saturday night?
Well, Milan are in this title race for the long haul.
In all fairness, their spirited performance against Juve taught us just as much, one-on-one with the champions, minus the majority of their key numbers. And even with that first stain on the notebook, Stefano Pioli’s men remained at the top of Serie A.
But they got back on the horse anyway against Torino, taking the game by the neck and even under difficult circumstances loosening their grip.
Pioli chose to rest the talisman Hakan Calhanoglu, while Davide Calabria was allowed to return to right-back, following his forced appearance in the heart of the Milan midfielder against Juve. This relief would be short-lived however, after Sandro Tonali was stretched, after taking a heavy blow to the back of his calf in the second half.
But before this downer came a demonstration of all the references of I Rossoneri. The irrepressible Rafael Leao continued his meteoric run of form, breaking the deadlock in 25 minutes to complete an astonishing and fluid movement.
Rock and roll full-back Theo Hernandez charged vertically into the field with the ball, beat a few players, and then passed on the way to Brahim Diaz. The loaned Real Madrid wizard instinctively sent the ball into the space in front of him, and Leao charged into the penalty area, took a throw-in and scored the game’s first goal.
Nice clinical trick.
The second came soon after, with Diaz in the thick of the action once again, winning a penalty kick from an awkward tackle from Andrea Belotti. Franck Kessie rarely misses the spot, and he did the business for Pioli.
The second half saw Il Toro start aiming at the hosts, first having a penalty decision overturned (an incident which caused Tonali to leave the field on a stretcher), then forcing Gianluigi Donnarumma and his defense to action. drastic.
But after being forced into unwanted substitutions and adding another name or two to the injury list, Milan still bounced back to claim maximum points and put the pressure back on their rivals Inter to get them. are catching up at the top of the table.
It wasn’t vintage, that was gritty, but that was a performance of potential champions.
Oh yes. And Zlatan Ibrahimovic is back.