AC Milan have continued their strong start to the season under temporary manager, Daniele Bonera. Bonera, actually an assistant coach for the Rossoneri and a former centre-back for the club, took over the lead manager position for three games thus far as Stefano Pioli recovers from COVID-19. Milan sit first in Serie A and second in their Europa League group.
AC Milan Continue Strong Start Under Daniele Bonera
Bonera has now been in charge for two league games. The two fixtures came against a competitive Napoli side and a talented, yet underachieving, Fiorentina team.
The result against Napoli proves that this year, Milan cannot be taken lightly. Although they are first place, their past may indicate that they’re due for a slip in form. In the game with Napoli, however, this was not the case. Frontman Zlatan Ibrahimovic took over early, giving Milan a 2-0 lead with a brace. Milan looked to be in control before Dries Mertens grabbed his one goal to cut the deficit to one.
After Mertens’ goal, Milan looked shaky at times. They were desperate not to concede another and lose out on two extra points, but young Norwegian (and one of Bonera’s substitutes) Jens Petter Hauge scored in added time to solidify the victory.
The next league game was Sunday, against Fiorentina. Milan were without Ibrahimovic and Ismael Bennacer but looked unfazed. Captain Alessio Romagnoli scored his first goal of the season with a nice header off a corner, and Franck Kessie converted a penalty. The team sailed to a smooth 2-0 win. The most impressive aspect was their confidence, even without a couple of their stars. Bonera handled and lead this game perfectly. Milan’s main goal is to finish in the top four of the league, and Bonera kept this goal more than alive.
Bonera’s one game in charge (so far) in the Europa League came against Lille. It’s important to note that Milan fell to Lille 3-0 in their first meeting of the season a couple of weeks ago.
First of all, Bonera had tough decisions to make. He needed to rest players like Kessie and Romagnoli, and also was without Ibrahimovic. Bonera started Sandro Tonali, Matteo Gabbia, and Ante Rebic to fill in for the aforementioned players. Tonali and Rebic played roles in Milan’s sole goal, coming from Samu Castillejo, and Gabbia was solid. Bonera also started Diogo Dalot over Davide Calabria, which looked to be wise as Dalot performed well and Calabria was given a well-deserved rest.
Milan conceded an avoidable goal, so the result ended up in a draw. Although not ideal, it is a vast improvement from their first encounter with Lille. The Rossoneri remains second in the group, and Bonera’s player decisions allowed many to rest and play a large role in the victory over Fiorentina.