Marzia Hazra On March - 23 - 2010

AC Milan Fail to Capitalize on Inter Milan’s Blunder

Inter Milan’s Champions League bliss looks to have become AC Milan’s Scudetto delight. The current champions have dropped points carelessly over the past two months, thus relinquishing their formerly iron grip on the title and allowing their cross-town rivals to move within one point.

Over the weekend Leonardo’s men were given the chance to move to the top of the table and claim leadership – but failed.

Why Leonardo decided field Alexandre Pato in the starting eleven so close after the Brazilian ace’s return from his injury lay-off with both Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Amantino Mancini available is still up for debate. As is the reason to why the Rossoneri tactician handed Massimo Oddo a starting shirt despite Luca Antonini having returned to full fitness.

A Napoli side going without a victory since Jan. 24 managed to play out a somewhat entertaining draw at the San Siro. However, it must be said that Hugo Campagnaro’s opening goal on 13 minutes was gift wrapped from above in the form of Oddo who clumsily collided into and brought down goalkeeper Antonio Chimenti – allowing the easiest of tap-ins for the Napoli defender into an empty net.

It got from bad to worse the following minute as Pato suffered another tear to his right thigh muscle, making way for Mancini. How long the prolific striker will be on the sidelines is still not clear.

However, The Diavoli reacted quickly, upped their game and less than 15 minutes later one of Ronaldinho’s picture perfect crosses found Filippo Inzaghi who headed home from close range. The home team went on to dominate the proceedings during large spells of the game but failed to deliver the goods when entering the final third.

Once again there was no shortage of the goal scoring opportunities created by the Rossoneri, instead it was the usual lack of inefficiency that has plagued the team in recent times. Just like it did against AS Roma, Manchester United and Chievo in preceding weeks.

Brazilian duo Thiago Silva and Ronaldinho looked particularly alert and although Napoli defender Gianluca Grava was plastered all over the latter like an oversized bandage, the birthday boy was able to dazzle from time to time. Nonetheless, a cause of concern highlighted throughout the game was the poor communication between the different positions. As was the attitude showcased by the players as roughly a handful of the Diavoli put their hearts into the game despite leadership being at stake. Where was the raw hunger and fierce determination?

Although few expected Milan to make a genuine push for the Scudetto, serious questions have been raised over the quality of the squad. Do Leonardo’s men have what it takes to go all the way? If they succeed in claiming the top spot, will they be able to hold on to it? Let’s entertain the idea and say they do, will Silvio Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani see it fit to leave the rejuvenation further down the road?

Many questions remain unanswered for the time being. But as things stand, the fate of Milan’s title aspirations is ironically in the hands of their fiercest rivals. We’ll simply have to wait and see whether or not the reigning champions will give their “big brothers” another shot at claiming leadership.

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