Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Frank Tigani On March - 10 - 2011

Milan’s Stars Fail To Show as Tottenham Progress

Milan’s Champions League campaign has ended for another season following their nil all draw against Tottenham. The Rossoneri needed to win after losing by a goal to nil in the first leg. But, in the end, the Italians could only muster a draw and, consequently, bowed out of Europe’s premier competition at the round of 16 for a second consecutive season.

Despite being eliminated, Milan put in a sound performance on the night. Max Allegri’s men dominated possession throughout the match and created more opportunities to score as Tottenham were happy to sit back and protect their narrow lead from the outset.

From defence to midfield, Milan were near perfect. They gave little away to Tottenham whilst they showed all their experience and class in being able to comfortably control possession. If there is one criticism that can be laid here, it is that for a side chasing the tie their play seemed to lack urgency at times.

Max Allegri’s side did everything right on the pitch, except, however, when it came to the final third. Despite fielding the attacking trio of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robinho and Pato, Milan lacked the cutting edge required to break the deadlock.

Ibrahimovic, in particular, cut a frustrating figure throughout the course of the match. On a night when Milan needed a big performance from their big Swede, he went missing. Apart from two great balls played into Pato, which the young Brazilian should have done more with, Ibrahimovic again failed to prove that he can make a difference on the big stage.

Ibra’a strike partner, Pato, was slightly better, but, only just. Like Ibrahimovic, Pato is an incredibly gifted player, yet, he too failed to live up to his reputation despite his clear efforts to do so. Milan’s two best chances on the night fell to him, however, he botched one and Gomes saved the other.

Milan’s other Brazilian ace, Robinho, was also not at his best. Playing in a deeper role, Robinho did at least attempt to initiate some attacking moves but not on enough occasions did he do so. He also wasted a glorious chance when he scuffed his lines after Pato set him up after skipping past Gomes.

Before the start of the season, Milan landed the signatures of both Robinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in order to help make Milan competitive again on the domestic and European fronts. Whilst both players have made a difference in the Serie A, when it mattered in Europe, like it did last night, they both failed to deliver.

Instead, it was the club’s old stalwarts, like Clarence Seedorf and Alessandro Nesta along with the club’s younger stars, like Ignazio Abate and Thiago Silva that produced the goods when needed. Unfortunately for Milan, their efforts were not enough.

Milan have now failed to progress past the round of 16 since winning the title in 2007. Apart from one season when they were eliminated by Werder Bremen in the Europa League, the club has been eliminated at this same stage on three different occasions and all three times to English opposition. First it was Arsenal, last season it was Manchester United and now this season, Tottenham.

During the mid-noughties, the club was the dominant force in the Champions League after reaching three finals in four years and winning two. Now, the club seems a long way off from reaching the same heights again.

This year, Milan were not even amongst the favourites to win the title and despite a valiant display at White Hart Lane, in the end they simply were not good enough to even  beat a side that is playing for the first time in the Champions League.

Now, Milan’s attentions will be solely focused on capturing lo Scudetto, a title the club has not won since 2004. As for Tottenham, they will continue their amazing run in the Champions League and, good luck to them.

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