In "3 Up, 3 Down" we take a look at 3 positive and 3 negative takeaways from the last match. Here are the positives and negatives from Milan's 3-2 victory over Palermo.
1) Carlos Bacca
Bacca was undoubtedly the man of the match Saturday. The Colombian delivered an incredible performance against the Rosanero and was the main reason Milan was able to come away with the victory. His first goal was the result of some brilliant movement in the box. When Davide Calabria's cross to Giacomo Bonaventura looked like it had been broken by Palermo's defense, Bacca darted behind Bonaventura hoping for the ball to come loose. Most strikers would have given up on the play, but Bacca did not. Bonaventura managed to come away with the loose ball and nudged it toward Bacca, who was in perfect position and sent a shot flying into the top-left corner of the net. Bacca's second goal was a perfect header off a cross from Juraj Kucka, which ultimately secured all three points for the Rossoneri. All in all, Bacca turned in an exceptional performance and made the difference against Palermo.
2) Milan's Midfielders
All three of Milan's midfielders turned in excellent shifts against Palermo. Bonaventura provided a fine assist on Bacca's first goal, and then curled in a beautiful free kick just before halftime to give Milan the lead. He was effective in the final third, responsible in possession and worked hard without the ball. Kucka turned in another great performance and is starting to make fans regret writing him off. Kucka was outstanding defensively, winning tackles all over the pitch and breaking up Palermo's attacks with regularity. He was equally impressive going forward, constantly pushing the pace of the game with his direct running. He swung in the perfect cross that Bacca was able to head home.
Perhaps the most impressive midfielder on the night was Milan captain Riccardo Montolivo. In his second start of the season, Montolivo turned in a vintage performance for Milan. He was responsible in possession, his decisions with the ball were almost flawless, and defensively Montolivo was surprisingly effective as he won his fair share of challenges. It would be a benefit to Milan if the Montolivo who showed up Saturday could stick around the rest of the season.
3) Davide Calabria
Coming on in relief of the injured Ignazio Abate, the academy graduate turned in a great performance in his season debut. Calabria delivered a great cross that led to Bacca's first goal and was a reliable option going forward. On the other side of the ball, Calabria performed well, as he locked down his flank all night. Calabria showed an impressive amount of poise and efficiency going forward, and with Abate and Luca Antonelli both injured, he will have to continue doing so.
1) Mattia De Sciglio
After a promising start to the season, De Sciglio turned in an awful performance Saturday. On Palermo's first goal he gave Oscar Hiljemark a free header off a corner kick. On the second Palermo goal, De Sciglio kept Hiljemark onside as the Swede received a through ball and promptly slotted it into the back of the net. Apart from the two goals, he was knocked off of the ball too easily, and his passes and crosses were unreliable. It is important to note since moving from right back to left back, De Sciglio's defensive positioning has been suspect.
2) Milan's Corner Kicks
Milan took the majority of its corners short against Palermo, and the change in strategy was a clear failure. When you're given possession of the ball deep in your opponent's half, you better utilize it, and Milan didn't. Obviously, one game is a small sample size, but with the Udinese game fast approaching, Milan needs to rethink its corner strategy. After the corner was taken short, the ensuing cross in never came. Milan toyed with the ball, and on most occasions passed it backward and wasted important possession.
3) Keisuke Honda
After his disappointing derby performance, Honda was given the start against Palermo and once again failed to convince. Although he got better as the game went, on Honda was still lost at times and failed to make an impact in the final third. The most puzzling thing about Honda is how he is too often in a bad position to receive the ball. When another Milan player has the ball, Honda doesn't open himself up and adjust his body to receive the ball. On two occasions against Palermo, Bacca passed the ball to Honda who was stationary. He then stuttered trying to receive the ball and was unable to come away with it. Honda turned in another dull performance, and with Jeremy Menez said to be close to returning, his opportunities to impress going forward may be numbered.