Time for AC Milan to Regain Focus

AC Milan were coasting through the beginning of the season by winning every game they played, in both Serie A and the Europa League. The team were scoring upwards of two goals every match, and the defence was as solid as ever. They had their first hiccup, however, against Roma two weeks ago in a 3-3 draw. They went on to win two games after that, but then faced a massive loss in the Europa League followed by a disappointing draw in Serie A. With the international break at hand, the time to regain focus is now.

Time for AC Milan to Regain Focus

AC Milan’s Recent Rough Patch

Milan earned eight points out of a possible 15 in the last five matches. In years prior, this could be seen as an accomplishment. But, with the way the Rossoneri started this season, it’s clear they have more serious aspirations.

The draw against Roma was tough, particularly as Milan had a 3-2 lead going into the end of the match. They drew due to a lack of focus on a set-piece, something which has been a common trend this season. All in all, however, a draw against Roma isn’t the worst result.

They responded well after the draw with two wins. These included a 3-0 victory over Sparta Prague in the Europa League and a 2-1 win over Udinese in Serie A. The youngsters showed up in a major way when facing Sparta Prague and, although Milan’s win against Udinese wasn’t convincing, they still walked away with three points.

The next game was a 3-0 loss at home to Lille in the Europa League. Lille are a team that must be taken seriously as they are second in Ligue 1 and now lead the way in the Europa League group. It was expected to be a brawl, but Milan were thoroughly outmatched.

Going back to Italy, Milan drew 2-2 at home to Hellas Verona. Verona are eighth in the table, and shouldn’t have presented a major issue. They almost won, however, as Milan needed a stoppage-time equaliser from Zlatan Ibrahimovic to level the game.

Steps AC Milan Must Take to Improve

There are three vital steps Milan must make during the international break to continue to stay atop of Serie A and potentially the Europa League. The first is instituting more rest for Ibrahimovic.

The Swede starts almost every match and often plays the full 90 minutes. He’s a physical anomaly and still a fantastic striker, but he is 39-years-old. Resting him against teams such as Sparta Prague and Celtic in the Europa League needs to be considered. Milan need a fully fit Ibrahimovic every weekend in Serie A.

The second step is to make Diogo Dalot the starter at right-back. He’s been fantastic in the Europa League, and will surely shine in Italy. Davide Calabria has started the bulk of the games at right-back, and although he’s performed well at times, he’s prone to downright awful games, such as his most recent one against Verona. Dalot is just as talented defensively and is a major presence going forward. Having Dalot and Theo Hernandez on the flanks will make Milan’s attack even more potent.

The last step is to make sure Sandro Tonali fully integrated into the team. A hidden truth about Milan is that Ismael Bennacer is the club’s most important player, and they often look lost without him on the pitch. With this being said, Bennacer needs time to rest too, and shouldn’t be playing all the Europa League games. Tonali is an immense young talent, and he needs to find his groove with Milan quickly so he can take the midfield reins in matches where Bennacer is not present.

Looking Ahead

Milan have a tough five games coming up after the international break. These include three domestic matches and two Europa League matches. The matches in Italy are against Napoli, Fiorentina, and Sampdoria, while the Europa League matches are facing Lille and Celtic.

Napoli and Fiorentina are teams that true Scudetto contenders must beat. The match away to Lille will likely decide the top-dog in the Europa League group. Milan are off to a hot start, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to take their foot off the pedal.

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