The team started out in what appeared to be a 4-3-2-1 that quickly and often morphed into a 4-3-3. This was fine as Atalanta, a team even more difficulty than AC Milan really struggled in this match. It was really all Milan early on with Nocerino, Robinho, and Cristante all coming close with the 18 year old hitting the bar. It was not the last we would see from Cristante, who was stellar in the match. I think often times my feelings toward youth players is misunderstood. I don't understand this inherent requirement that they MUST play. I for one am a firm believer of earning something and all young players should earn their time. Watching Niang squander his chances last season and in stark contrast watching Cristante seize his speaks a volumes to my point. Once earned, you must be ready, and truth be told I think Cristante is a bit more "special" then the rest but I don't want to sit here and turn him into a false idol! He had a great game against a struggling side, where he goes from here is up to him!
Truth be told, he did steal the spotlight from Kaka who in the 35th minute slotted home a great pass from Emanuelson. It was a well worked goal, and vintage Kaka, while the lead up was a sight for sore eyes for Milan fans. The goal was celebrated with a 100 shirt and in the 65th minute he was quick to add 101. A strong performance from Kaka, who has required the team to morph back into the 4-3-2-1 formation, but certainly a welcome move if it provides the result. The match ended with a flurry as Milan had a few more chances, but it was Cristante in the 67 with a shot from 25 meters that sealed the victory.
It was a bright a spot for many of us in a trying season. Three points and only the fifth win of the season, it surely wasn't a monumental victory, but it in order to run a team must first walk and crawl. Excuse the cliche, but as this team enters the January window with to no money to spend, it may be confidence and the emergence of a player like Cristante that provides the spark and momentum. Late on Zapata made way for Rami, and the Frenchman paired with his countryman for his AC Milan. The game was long done and dusted at that point, and Mexes was guilty of some poor choices and it remains to be seen what Rami offers. Is he the cover back we needed, freeing Zapata to his more comfortable pressing role, or will he be the one to press? Time will tell. Honda also waited in the stands, and while he was supposed to get his debut this week against Spezia in the Coppa Italia it seems that match has been postponed and that debut will have to wait. A good win and a good start to 2014.