Strong January Keeping Milan in Serie A Title Hunt

It’s been a busy few days for Milan, which have been in soccer headlines all over the world. One byproduct of goalkeeper Mike Maignan walking off the field because of racist chants during Milan’s game against Udinese is that it took attention away from the team’s dramatic 3-2 win.

Noah Okafor’s 93rd-minute goal allowed Milan to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 victory. It was the fourth straight win in Serie A for the Red and Blacks, who have five wins in six matches across all competitions since Christmas. It’s a stretch of matches that has helped to keep Milan in the Serie A title race.

Fans, pundits, and sportsbooks were quick to declare Serie A as a two-horse race between Inter and Juventus. However, Stefano Pioli’s squad weathered a rough patch in October and November and now sits firmly in third place. In fact, Milan could be viewed as an attractive dark horse to win Serie A for anyone using PayPal betting sites, where bets can be quick and easy to make for PayPal users. Given their recent play, Milan look to be a bona fide title contender.

To be fair, outside of a 3-1 win over Roma, all of Milan’s recent wins have come against teams at the bottom of the table. A skeptic might say that they are only winning the matches they have yet to win. Milan also suffered a 1-0 home loss to Juventus earlier this season, as well as that humiliating 5-1 defeat against Inter. Those two results show that Il Diavolo isn’t prepared to challenge Juventus and Inter for the Serie A crown.

On the other hand, Milan have outscored its opponents 15-6 over its last six matches in all competitions. They have been able to assert their dominance over lesser teams, which is exactly what you would expect from a title contender. They also have 17 matches left in the season to make up a manageable deficit at the top of the table, not to mention the momentum and confidence required to keep inching forward and ultimately overtake Juventus and Inter.

Milan’s 15 goals in its last six matches is a strong indicator that scoring goals won’t be a problem if Pioli’s team is going to mount a serious title push. Oliver Giroud is proving to be an ageless wonder, scoring 10 goals in 18 games, which ranks second in Serie A. The Frenchman also ranks second in the league in assists with seven and has gotten plenty of good service. In addition to Giroud, Christian Pulisic and Rafael Leão are both among the 10 players in Serie A with at least five assists this season.

Behind the likes of Giroud, Pulisic, Leão, Okafor, and others, Milan rank second in Serie A in goals scored this season. Nine players have already contributed multiple goals to the Reds and Blacks thus far. Pulisic was even named Serie A Player of the Month in December and has added a couple of assists in January. The young American is still finding his way in his first season with the club and continues to get better while developing good chemistry with Giroud and the rest of his teammates.

The same can be said of Okafor, Yunus Musah, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and a few other players who have joined Milan in the past year. A significant chunk of the squad hadn’t played in Serie A before this season. That explains why Milan went through a rough stretch in October and November that appeared to take them out of the title race. But it’s also why the best of Milan could be yet to come, enabling them to make up ground and challenge for the title.

Of course, the job is far from done for Milan. While scoring goals hasn’t been a problem, preventing them has been an issue at times. They are middle of the pack among Serie A clubs in goals allowed and have managed just three clean sheets in their last 12 matches despite stringing wins together in December and January. It’s also well known that Milan are pursuing defensive reinforcements during the January transfer window.

However, defensive concerns aside, there is no question that Milan are a factor in the Serie A title race. They have scored goals and dominated inferior opponents in January, climbing back within striking distance of Juventus and Inter. Ultimately, Milan will need those two teams to stumble while also proving that they can beat Serie A’s best teams. But Milan’s success over the last month has put them in the title race, giving them a chance to win a second Serie A championship in the last three years.