Milan face clash with Lazio, but is it decisive?

Posted by Sumeet Paul

In a monumental fortnight for Milan which has already seen them face both Barcelona and Inter, you'd be forgiven for assuming things could only get easier. Wrong.

Lazio visit San Siro on Saturday night, in a crunch clash between two teams battling for third place. While it is undoubtedly an important game, will it really be decisive?

As has been the case in previous years, the race for a spot in the Champions League has seen its conclusion come as late as the final weekend of the season. With Milan, Inter and Lazio all tightly bunched together and many adding the likes of Fiorentina and Roma to the list of contenders, there will be plenty more drama after this weekend.

Hernanes has led the chorus of players calling this game "decisive", with Cristian Zapata echoing his thoughts by labelling it "must win". However, considering Lazio and Inter must play each other again, and amongst the trio's remaining games some face the top two and those directly below them, it is important to not lose sight of the stretch ahead.

Milan have an opportunity to take back third place with a win on Saturday, but more important to their cause is the continuance of the momentum they have built over the last few months.

In a way the game is decisive, but as are all the remaining 12 games this season if the Rossoneri are to seal a top-three finish.

What is particularly pleasing about this Milan side now is that they have now formed an identity and style of play.

Earlier this week, Silvio Berlusconi revealed that the Rossoneri would be using the same tactical system at every level of the youth sector.

Whether this relates directly to the 4-3-3, or a generalisation regarding what is expected of players in particular positions, Milan have a clear idea of what they are looking to create in the years to come, and that has been conveyed in large part to the current set of players.

While Zapata has settled in the heart of the defence, Kevin Constant has excelled since his switch to a left-back. Ignazio Abate was considered a permanent fixture of the team last year, now Massimiliano Allegri can easily call upon Mattia De Sciglio to fill in on either side.

The midfield trio are combining well. Riccardo Montolivo appears to be taking leadership in the middle, and whether it's Sulley Muntari, Massimo Ambrosini or Antonio Nocerino, players know what is expected of them when they step in.

The attacking trident speaks for itself and can change freely. Allegri has instilled an attitude in them all that defending starts up front, and it has become second nature for them to track back to help their team-mates.

The point is that Milan have developed well, and good results against Barcelona and Inter have further solidified the improvements they are trying to make. Now they must continue to build on it for the rest of the season, starting with Lazio.

Are you confident that Milan can get the right result against Lazio? Is it key to their chances of securing third, and is their progress and planning reassuring?

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