Milan roll on in chase for Europe
With Milan CEO Adriano Galliani revealing this week that Milan would discuss their objectives over Easter weekend, he was keen to stress the importance of remaining focused on the next two home games. The Rossoneri successfully overcame Catania in a 1-0 win on Sunday night, and with four consecutive victories behind them, confidence is undoubtedly building.
- Report: Milan 1-0 Catania
Understandably, there are still those who question the benefit of qualifying for the Europa League, particularly given that manager Clarence Seedorf could arguably profit from being able to solely focus on domestic matters in his first full season in charge next year.
That situation has helped the likes of Juve manager Antonio Conte and Roma boss Rudi Garcia in more recent years in Serie A, and in a rebuilding process it is important to have clear objectives that aren't necessarily going to cause confusion with participation in Europe.
Nevertheless, both the coach and players have made it clear that it remains their objective with five games remaining this season, and although the performance again lacked real conviction, it is another three important points moving forward.
Following on from his appointment in January, Seedorf vowed that he would "bring back the joy, enthusiasm and fun in playing football", and while the harsh realities may have set in since his initial ideas, it is clear that points mean a great deal more to the Dutchman at this stage.
There is an argument to suggest that the level of performance hasn't improved drastically since he arrived, aside from certain games which stand-out such as those against Juventus and the Champions League first leg tie against Atletico Madrid.
Milan appear to be suffering in some way during the course of games, which invariably leads to the opposition enjoying a lion's share of possession while carrying the threat of punishing any mistakes in defence. Seedorf commented in his post-game interview that certain individual choices as well as forcing the play are current pitfalls of his team, but it is important to always fight together.
However, at the risk of becoming repetitive and being in disagreement with the general feeling in the Italian media, essentially all that matters now is picking up points, climbing the league and instilling a winning habit back into this team.
On an individual level, there were impressive performances from Riccardo Montolivo, who capped his display off with the winning goal, and Adel Taarabt continues to provide the much-needed spark and excitement with his trickery and pace.
Aside from that pair, the remainder of the starting line-up were perhaps slightly inconsistent in both their approach and distribution, and it is interesting to analyse Seedorf's positional decisions with certain players.
As has been the case previously, Andrea Poli was deployed in a more advanced role which perhaps doesn't suit his all-round game, and similarly second-half substitute Ignazio Abate was moved further up field on the right flank despite his apparent struggles against Napoli in that role earlier this year.
Seedorf claims that Daniele Bonera, among others, have brought a better balance to the team in recent weeks in terms of "collaborating between the lines", and it is hard to argue with that point considering the results.
It will be intriguing to see how Milan line up when the entire squad is healthy, but for now it would appear that Seedorf is willing to sacrifice restoring the joy in order to instil more solidity and a winning habit.
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