Milan's performance over Sampdoria was just what the club needed to boost morale to get the players focused and ready for their trip to Spain with that extra chip on their shoulder -- even if it's a while from now.
Milan was away at Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa, picking up three points against a struggling Sampdoria side by a score of 2-0.
The goals weren't exactly a pair that you'd find on a highlight video, however they were special in terms of who scored them.
Abdel Taarabt is shocking the world right now, looking reborn after his unfortunate time in England. He scored the first goal of the match, in which Sampdoria keeper Angelo Da Costa initially made a save on his header; however, the QPR-owned player slotted in his own rebound and celebrated by running up to Philippe Mexes -- of all people.
This is the best possible scenario for the Moroccan. When he joined Milan, it was a puzzling loan deal for someone who had a reputation for being snotty in England, and didn't have much to show for it when it came to recent success.
Although it's still early for Taarabt in the Milan shirt and that he still needs to prove himself in the long run, he's making the most of it for now -- turning into one of the club's key players. He's definitely done enough to earn a first team spot, and that could be bad news for "Pazzo."
Giampaolo Pazzini plays better when he's alone, as the go-to guy to feed. At times, he gets lost when those surrounding him attract more of the spotlight because of the way they play. But, can this work with him at Milan?
For example, someone like Mario Balotelli (who was absent due to injury) or Kaka (saved as a substitute) takes the ball at their feet and not only creates the play, but tries to finish it, too.
Pazzini is a poacher, and he's a lethal one at that. His performance alongside Taarabt was solid yesterday, however if those around him continue to have better goal-scoring opportunities and convert more often than not, it cements Pazzini's role as a secondary striker -- someone who will come on late in the game and try to make a difference.
He's good enough to be on the squad, however if he fails to break into the starting lineup, he could be testing the waters elsewhere in order to play more often.
After an uneventful first half, Adil Rami sealed the win for Milan with his header that frustrated Sampdoria players who thought there should have been a foul on the play.
It's great to see the new boys deliver and they proved to us that sometimes, attracting the sexier names doesn't always work out. A team like Milan needs to fill the void in certain areas, and although they have picked up questionable players in recent memory to do so, at least both Taarabt and Rami are relishing in their roles.
It makes us feel a lot better about improvements, and with the addition of Kesuke Honda who is playing good for the club (even though he could do better, and it's a matter of adjusting to the league), the transfer window was a successful one.
As for the squad, with Balotelli and Mattia De Sciglio injured, Milan rested most of their starters for fitness purposes. It was a wise decision from coach Clarence Seedorf, who is making us forget about Max Allegri fast.
Marco Amelia got the start since Christian Abbiati was out with sickness, and he performed well -- stopping two great chances for Sampdoria striker Eder. Even our defense was pretty good yesterday, minus a few scary moments in the second half when Sampdoria was pressing hard.
The midfield unit of Riccardo Montolivo, Sulley Muntari and Riccardo Saponara looked strong as well, and Saponara's performance suggests that we should be seeing more of him.
It's tough to break the starting 11, and although his situation is similar to Pazzini's in a sense where his teammates find success quicker, he troubled the opposition on several occasions and even had a golden opportunity that flew right over the crossbar.
Even about boasting over a victory against a lowly Serie A side. Milan need to turn their attention to Atletico Madrid, who they face in a few weeks in the second leg of their Champions League tie. Going into the game with a win is great for the club, and gives them that extra boost.
With a few players questionable for the game, Milan could look towards their impact players of the weekend, and hope they can turn the tide.