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Milan’s away match against Juventus was supposed to be a huge test of their  minerals. Qasa Alom evaluates what we learnt about the rossoneri in their bid for an 18th scudetti.

1. Thiago Silva cannot afford to be pushed up into midfield against Spurs.

When Alessandro Nesta and Thiago Silva play together – Milan do not concede goals. It is as simple as that. Milan have kept 12 clean sheets in the league this season; of which 10 have come when the pair play together. Some of the top strikers this pairing have muzzled include Samuel Eto’o, Diego Milito, Alberto Gilardino, Edinson Cavani Amauri…(ok perhaps not the last one) but my point still stands.

Therefore, no matter how tempting it is two push Thiago into midfield again for the return leg, the long and short way of the matter is this; having those two at the heart of the team will give Milan a better chance of qualifying by simply making it harder for Spurs to score.

2. Ignazio Abate is turning into a fine defensive full-back.

Last season Ignazio Abate looked lost at right back and often gave away many cheap goals due to his poor positioning keeping somebody on-side. This season has seen the youngster develop very much under the radar. Sure, he is still susceptible to the odd rush of blood to the head – think of the sending off in the derby – but he is fast turning into one of Milan’s most consistent and reliable players.

After the first fixture between these two sides, I wrote an article regarding the team’s lack of trust in Abate that may well still be true now from an attacking point, as he was again left constantly in acres of space and criminally under utilized. However his vital interception in the first half to stop Toni going one on one with Abbiati in the box, illustrate his better understanding of the game that will that will eventually make him a regular –if unspectacular- right back.

3. Mark Van Bommel will win lo scudetto for Milan.

Ok, so he fouls a lot and had one of the worst debuts ever by getting sent off; so what? Since his arrival Milan’s midfield has started to actually resemble something that is supposed to be in between the defenders and the attackers. There is finally some shape and compactness in the side again and his strength, influence and experience is one of the major reasons why nobody has mentioned the prolonged absence of Ambrosini. Since the Dutchman’s arrival Milan have only conceded two goals in 7 league games as well, with Nesta and Thiago to the rear as well Zlatan ahead of him, that’s the sort of spine of a team that win’s championships.

4. Kevin Prince Boateng is no trequartista.

Neither is Antonio Cassano, Robinho or (sadly) Clarence Seedorf. Milan’s team at the moment is in dire need of a link between the industrious midfield and the enterprising attack. Allegri has tried all the aforementioned in this position and although each of the candidates has had their good games…nobody has yet made it their own. This was the case again against Juventus. Boateng got into good positions to get on the end the move, and even put in a few dangerous balls himself, but often he was the furthest forward player and could not control the tempo of the match.

Milan are crying out for somebody with Seedorf’s intelligence, Cassano’s creativity, Robinho’s dribbling ability and Boateng’s goal scoring in the summer, because at the moment it’s a case of square pegs in a round hole. That will let Boateng move into the midfield and to a position that would be more befitting of his skills and his ability to ghost into the box late.

5. Alexandre Pato gives the team a much needed Plan B.

There was a curious moment in the first half when Milan caught Juventus on the backfoot in a 3 v 3 situation that ought to have at least led to a chance on goal; except that didn’t even manage to dissipate because before anything could happen Cassano as well as Ibrahimovic both came for the loose ball and clattered into each other. End of move.

This little scenario exemplifies a point about Milan’s attack; they are by and large pretty one dimensional. Many will laugh at me here because Robinho, Zlatan and FantAntonio are anything if one dimensional – they can all dribble, pass, shoot from distance and create goals too - however that right there is the problem in itself.  All three of them pretty much like to do the same thing. After offloading both traditional number 9’s – Huntelaar and Borriello – as well as the unfortunate injury to evergreen Superpippo, Milan are now left with an attack full of Segunda Punta’s that quite literally are stepping on each others feet.

That is why Pato – the most natural goalscorer of all four of Milan’s attackers – is necessary foil to the other three and gives the team an extra dimension. He can run into space, play off the shoulder and most importantly, be found lurking in the box to get onto the end of a Kevin Prince Boateng volleyed cut back.

6. Gennaro Gattuso is a scorer of fine goals (rather than a fine scorer of goals).

In over 300 appearances for the rossoneri, Ringhio has given Milan fans the privilege of witnessing a grand total of 8 goals. It’s fair to say that the 33 year old isn’t the most regular of scorers; yet when he does score, blimey are they something to behold!

From pirohuetted outside of the box left footed volleys against Palermo to a right footed curler against Schalke or the pile driver in the champions’ league quarter final against Bayern Munich! The goals perhaps are quite symbolic of Rino as a player – They can  often look ugly and are very surprising, but each of them – just like against Juventus- has come at a crucial point when Milan has needed somebody to step up.

Lastly, all of them have come from outside the box too…does that make qualify him as a long range specialist?

Qasa Alom

Broadcast Journalist. Writer for Serieaweekly, subtitled online or anyone else daft enough to want me. These are my thoughts (even the clever ones)

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One Response so far.

  1. Ted says:

    Nice piece Qasa.

    In my opinion it doesn’t matter where Silva plays against Spurs. We will lose, regardless. Milan are without Pato,Boateng,Van Bommel,Gattuso,Ambrosini,and Pirlo.The midfield may contain Seedorf and Jankulovski, I’m afraid Milan will get absolutely battered!

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