Following a poor display against Udinese which left Milan languishing at 15th in the Serie A table, Montella saw fit to bring in changes for the away trip to Genoa. Following a disheartening performance the previous week, Bacca found himself sitting on the bench, with Lapadula given his first start of the season. In addition, 19 year-old youth product Davide Calabria took up a midfield role.
At the end of the first half little could be seen to separate the two teams, few dangerous chances could be mustered up by Lapadula or Sampdoria’s two prong attacking lineup of Muriel and Quagliarella. The two teams left the field goalless and with a rare 50-50 split in possession.
Having seen his team fail to make an impression during the first half, and facing the prospect of entering the relegation zone should they fail to take the victory, Montella made no delay in arranging the second half substitutions. A lacklustre performance by new signing Sosa saw him replaced by another exiting youth product - Manuel Locatelli at 57’. Despite obvious intent and enthusiasm, Lapadula was unable to make an impact, and made way for Bacca on 64’.
Whether it was tactical brilliance on the part of Montella (more on that tomorrow), or the reversal of his own mistake for having not including him from the start is up for debate, but the introduction of Bacca proved to be the turning point in the match. Darting runs and smart movement in the box saw the player getting into positions that made him a constant threat from the get go, culminating in a sumptuous in the box finish in the 85th minute to seal victory for Milan, off a well placed pass from the ever reliable Suso.
The victory sees Milan climb back into the top half of the table, prior to the rest of the rounds’ matches to come over the weekend.