Few big teams have been playing more poorly than AC Milan have since the beginning of the season. Despite their poor form and the fans beginning to lose their patience, the personnel and talent they have is obviously much better than the results. At some point, it had to start coming together, and the man in charge of a sudden sense of calm and optimism is Kaka, looking more and more like the player who left the club more than four years ago, dragging Mario Balotelli upwards with him.
The 3-0 win over Celtic didn’t come from some out-of-this-world footballing performance. There’s a limit to what you can do in one of the toughest ground you can encounter with a team that includes Valter Birsa, Nigel de Jong and Andrea Poli. But early brilliance from Kaka and some excellent defending from everyone for the rest of the match might be the thing that starts pulling this cart out of the deep mud it’s found itself in.
Mario Balotelli forgot about everything said about him. It’s been following him his entire career, and this week specifically it was Boban, another psuedo Milan legend insulting Balotelli’s intelligence and quality. The Italian striker has plenty of insults he has soaked in over the years, but it doesn’t seem to change him. He is what he is, for good and for bad. When he’s focused, there are few forwards harder to stop.
Kaka himself is blooming, thriving. Suddenly being on the left side, in something of a free role, makes him feel like all these wasted years at Real Madrid and especially under Jose Mourinho didn’t happen. Rust is coming off, and little by little, his dribbling is a little bit more wasteful, his shooting a bit more accurate, and his decision making seems a lot more like it should be. If Allegri can manage to tinker between away and home tactics without losing too much creativity and attacking potency, Kaka might become one of the signings of the season.
A good word has to be put in for the defense that has been taking a lot of heat recently. It wasn’t just the goal from Cristian Zapata that gave Milan a lot of confidence the rest of the way. It as Montolivo and Andrea Poli, playing in a wider role than usual, doing an excellent job when it came to helping out on the wings, and still having enough to start attacks and get the ball to Kaka on the counter.
Milan aren’t a team with the depth and quality to compete for the Serie A title or go very far in the Champions League. However, this isn’t just an ordinary team, and not just for its name and history. Sometimes all it takes is one win to get teams to play consistently to their full potential. The 3-0 win at Celtic Park might have been that moment that kick started the season for the Rossoneri.