Davide Calabria the leading light as Milan overcome Lazio

As the referee blew the final whistle, the iconic San Siro let out a roar that was reminiscent of the glorious yesteryears.

The unexpected had occurred, AC Milan had manged to knock the wind out of the sails of a high-flying Lazio side, humbling Simone Inzaghi’s men, with a 2-1 scoreline.

Gennaro Gattuso, typically as passionate ever, bellowed towards the throng of Rossoneri fans realising his methods are starting to manifest itself onto the team.

While most of Milan’s players put in a much improved shift, one player stood out above the rest deservedly earning the man of the match accolade.

Anyone might be forgiven for thinking it could be one of Milan’s superstar summer signings yet it was not, rather it was Il Diavolo’s own Primavera (youth team) graduate, Davide Calabria.

If there was a time to truly announce your arrival at the highest level, a solid performance against a top team would be perfect and that was what Calabria did.

At times he seemed like an embodiment of his manager, inundated with grit and fiery passion as he harried and neutralised any threat the Biancocelsti’s players could conjure up against him.

The capital club for their part seemed intent on attacking down his flank with captain Senad Lulic and the in-form Sergej Milinkovic-Savic both combining only to see their efforts in vain as the 21-year-old, hardly put a foot wrong all game.

While the Italian was robust defensively, offensively he was a joy to watch overlapping with great effect and capping it off with a delicious assist, for Giacomo Bonaventura, who finished it off with a bullet header past a helpless Thomas Strakosha.

Significantly the aforementioned moment led Milan to regain the lead underlining the crucial part Calabria had played. In the 71st minute Ignazio Abate came on for Luca Antonelli forcing Calabria to swap flanks from right-back to left-back.

Admirably, he was able to adjust accordingly and still perform adeptly till the end, highlighting his versatility as a defender mainly due to his ability with both feet despite being naturally right-footed.

Statistics from the game further revealed the impact the Brescia born teenager had on the game: One assist, two key passes, nine tackles, seven clearances and four interceptions.

While this may be the game that finally garners him attention and signals his arrival, in actual fact, the youngster has already been around for quite some time belying his tender age.

Gaining promotion from the youth team in 2015, Calabria went on to make his Serie A debut in the same year under Sinisa Mihajlovic, replacing Mattia De Sciglio in an away win against Atalanta.

In September 2015, Mihajlovic would subsequently go on to hand him his first full start against Palermo in a 3-2 win, where he played for 49 minutes, drawing praise from critics and pundits alike.

With the Azzurri, Calabria made his debut for the Under-21 side in October 2015 against the Republic of Ireland. Following that, 2017 saw him being called up by Luigi Di Biagio as he was included in the Under-21 side to represent Italy at the 2017 UEFA European Under-21 Championship.

It must be said that the future seems bright for Calabria especially with Gattuso’s man-management skills enabling him to coax the best out of the youngster.

However, in order for a player like Calabria to fully grow, Milan must attain Champions League football.

With the Rossoneri unbeaten in five games and the likes of Roma and Inter dropping points, the Milanese giants have a genuine chance of making the top four, should they approach each game with attacking intent and defensive solidity as they did against Lazio.

And should Milan qualify for the Champions League this season it would not only mark their dramatic rise to the upper echelons of European football but also Calabria’s rise to superstardom.

The Author

Alif Chandra

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