As much as AC Milan‘s premature Champions League exit may have further dampened enthusiasm in an already troubled period, the Rossoneri’s 3-0 win over Monza before Christmas saw them win three consecutive home games in Serie A for the first time since September.
A minor achievement, only notable in a time of crisis, but their run of form at the Stadio San Siro serves as a reminder of their near-scintillating early-season form this term, which had them looking like serious title contenders, and perhaps even favourites.
Are AC Milan waking up?
Following four winless Serie A games between late October and mid-November, Stefano Pioli‘s side are slowly but steadily getting back on track.
It is no coincidence that even the players who were among the main architects of that convincing start to the season are stepping up again now, after a poor run of form.
Rafael Leao delivered an assist in his first Serie A start in more than a month, Christian Pulisic proved a constant threat for Monza by either hugging the right flank or cutting inside, and Tijjani Reijnders put in one of his best displays since joining the club.
Goals from debutant 18-year-old Jan-Carlo Simic and substitute Noah Okafor were the icing on the cake for Milan against Monza as they did what they can do on their best days – be aggressive, clinical, and win.
Can AC Milan win a trophy this season?
While injuries have taken their toll, also exposing the limits of a squad that is not deep enough to compete across all competitions, Pioli once again looks able to steer his side through tough times to eventually emerge stronger.
Now that the European schedule gives the Rossoneri a three-month break before they’ll be back in action for the Europa League playoff round, and with a Serie A fixture list that will have them play five of their next seven matches against opponents outside the top 10, Milan will have more time and opportunities to cement their confidence, find consistency and see some of their players recover from injury.
By that time, Pioli will need to have found a way to bring out the best of his Milan. They need to improve their record against sides closer to the top of the table, too.
Watching Milan prevail in a high-profile Serie A game, as they have done on several occasions in the recent past, would be the ideal statement of intent.
In order to do that, though, it will be crucial that AC Milan continue their process of reconstruction, which does now look to be going the right way.