Milan, from form to defence: this is how the Rossoneri were reborn

On the day of his 800th professional bench, the Rossoneri coach wins again and does so with a great effort. The secrets of rebirth

The coach who was massacred only a month ago by the majority of Rossoneri supporters – #PioliOut was back in trend as in the days of his landing at Milanello in the autumn of 2019 – took one of the greatest satisfactions right on the day of the match number 800 as a coach in his career and at the end of the week in which he was awarded the Golden Bench.

Let’s say that there are more painful redemptions. Above all, Pioli was able to bring the Milan we all knew back into the world by changing his clothes. All in all, this match teaches something simple: if a coach knows how to do his job, knows his players well and has a quality squad, the game system counts (a lot) relatively. Moreover, he always repeats it ad nauseam: attitude and interpretation count, not the forms.

From terror to courage

Take Maignan: he returned after five months with a different defensive set-up in front of him than the one he had left behind. A three/five line, and not the usual four. In short, not exactly trivial stuff for a goalkeeper. It was as if nothing had changed. Mike played serenely and his teammates in front of him did him a great service by effectively preventing Atalanta from becoming truly dangerous. We started from the goalkeeper because it is precisely the defensive phase that we are talking about. Thinking back just a month ago, it seems to recall a parallel reality: opponents popping up from all sides, terror in the eyes and in the passes of anyone wearing a Rossoneri shirt, potential goalscoring chances every time Milan were squeezed in their own area. Then, it is as if Pioli had snapped his fingers. Gentlemen, we change. And that change came with Giroud’s goal against Turin. That header was the push that the Devil gave himself to return to the surface the moment he hit bottom.

Perfect location

Pioli had asked for a fourth victory on the eve because “we haven’t succeeded yet this season”. In reality he had the complete package because with the three points also came the fourth clean sheet: three in the league (it had been a year, since March 2022, that the Devil hadn’t hit this trio) and one in the Champions League. The door was double-locked again and it happened for a double reason: rediscovered ferocity, that fear that over the weeks turned into malice; and the tactical organization imposed by the new system, which evidently required his time. One figure is particularly sensational: before these four games with immaculate goal, Milan had conceded thirteen goals in the previous four. A striking difference. The Rossoneri defense didn’t allow Atalanta to shoot, to slip in, to overlap, to cross. Made everything useless and sterile by almost perfect positions and diagonals despite the fact that there was a novice in the center, even if he seems to be a veteran. Thiaw canceled Hojlund in the baby challenge, was once again amazed by his serenity of mind and found in Kalulu and Tomori two friends who accompany him with maturity. Two who had stuttered more than once during the season and now that insurmountable wall through which most of the Scudetto passed is back.