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Feb 23, 2014

Away day clinic as Milan seal victory

Despite the fiery atmosphere created by the hosts after what they perceived as several harsh decisions given against them, Milan remained professional throughout as they secured a 2-0 win at Sampdoria. Adel Taarabt continues to win the hearts of the Rossoneri faithful, but perhaps more impressive was the organisation and solidity displayed by the team.

While the performance wasn’t perfect, it was perhaps the most impressive since Clarence Seedorf took charge, particularly when considering the absentees on Sunday afternoon.

Marco Amelia and Cristian Zaccardo stepped in admirably as Christian Abbiati and Daniele Bonera were ruled out with illness, while Riccardo Saponara and Giampaolo Pazzini were promoted to the starting line-up and played their part in the victory.

However, perhaps most impressive of all was Taarabt, with the 24-year-old continuing to prove his critics wrong as he relishes the opportunity that Milan have handed him.

As suggested when the Moroccan joined the club, he has provided a sense of excitement with his trickery, vision and eye for goal. Those facets of his game have never been in doubt as he is undoubtedly a talented player, but his work-rate and defensive coverage have been a pleasant surprise.

Seedorf has shown a great deal of faith in Taarabt, and he appears to be working hard to repay him with complete performances whilst growing into a real team player. Milan required both elements at the Marassi, as they did well to negotiate what could have been a tricky road trip.

While there was no room for controversy with the first goal, Sampdoria undoubtedly felt aggrieved that Junior Da Costa wasn’t provided with more protection with the second. Their frustration led to a lack of discipline in the closing stages, as Milan were afforded the luxury of merely seeing the game out against ten men.

Ultimately, in many ways it was an ideal performance away from home as the Rossoneri looked to make things happen prior to taking the lead, before staying compact and allowing little hope for their opponents to get back into the game.

Seedorf will perhaps still insist that he wants his players to be more aggressive off the ball as they continue to display a habit of standing off and inviting pressure, while he was visibly annoyed at various points in the game with the lack of composure on the ball.

Victories breed confidence, and as Milan continue to restore their confidence the more progressive style of football will hopefully come to the fore as they are seemingly set to put pressure on those above for a place in Europe next season.

While there is an argument to suggest that the Europa League will merely act as a distraction next season were the Rossoneri to achieve a top six finish this year, much would depend on how seriously Seedorf took the competition as it could be seen as opportunity to hone his skills on the European stage with less pressure.

Nevertheless, the mere fact that Milan are now back in the conversation regarding potentially representing Serie A in Europe is a positive sign, and one that gives the impression of progress under the Dutchman.

There was a noticeable improvement defensively on Sunday while Milan were largely clinical at the other end. If Seedorf can ensure his players maintain that level of performance, then the question of Europe could become a more pressing issue in the coming weeks.

What were your impressions of the win over Sampdoria?

For all the latest Milan and Serie A news, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty