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

Ebrahim Sadien On April - 30 - 2013

AC Milan Player Focus: Giampaolo Pazzini

Giampaolo Pazzini grabbed the headlines with a second half brace after coming off the bench for Milan against Catania in the last round of fixtures. The ex-Internazionale striker has scored fifteen league goals this season . However, the Pazzo is yet to cement a regular starting line-up place in Massimiliano Allegri’s side.

Prior to the Catania encounter Pazzini faced an extremely difficult task of having to force his way back into the Milan starting line-up. An ankle injury picked up against Genoa on March 8th coupled with the form of Mario Balotelli meant Pazzini had to settle for a place on the bench on his return from injury. Then a two match suspension for Balotelli, once again provided Pazzini with the chance to secure a starting birth. However he was unable to grab this opportunity. Two relatively poor performances against Napoli and Juventus ensured Super Mario was able to walk straight back into the starting line-up on his return from suspension against Catania.

Pazzini at times this season has received criticism for not contributing enough off the ball and seems to disappear for large portions of games. Despite this however, there is no doubting his predator ability in front of goal. His goals this season have been crucial in Milan’s campaign and unfortunately for Pazzo the injury sustained against Genoa came at exactly the wrong time. Pazzini scored an important double against Lazio on March 3rd which took Milan to third place in Serie A. He then followed it up with the opening goal against Genoa before limping off with the ankle injury.

Against Catania Pazzini was thrown on during the second half by Allegri with the Rossoneri trailing 2-1. With a point to prove, Pazzini did exactly what he does best. In a frantic five minute period, he found himself in the right place at the right time in the box and calmly netted two goals. Allegri was full of praise for the striker after the game saying: “Pazzini is an extraordinary player, as he moves so well in the penalty area and is a real fox in the box. I’m very happy with his brace, but the whole team played well tonight.”

Allegri seems reluctant to alter his now preferred 4-3-3 formation but has hinted earlier in the year that he could play Balotelli and Pazzini together. Balotelli has played wide of a central striker before for both Internazionale and Manchester City. However considering Balotelli’s form through the middle and his overall contribution to Milan’s play, Allegri is now faced with a huge headache. His 4-3-3 system has been built around the defensive contributions of the two wide front men. As witnessed against Napoli the option to play a wide player who provides little or no defensive cover proves detrimental to Milan’s game plan. Robinho in this particular instance was used wide of Pazzini and Milan were left exposed in midfield and unable to control and dictate the game.

The situation may be resolved in the strength of Milan’s opponent this weekend. A struggling Torino side without much attacking threat should allow Allegri to field a purely attacking player in Balotelli wide of a central Pazzini in his 4-3-3 formation. The question then becomes whether employing Balotelli out wide negates some of the striker’s all round attributes.

Pazzini will be hungry for more goals after his double against Catania as Milan enter their final four league fixtures. Extra motivation will be to finish as Milan’s top goal scorer this season with Stephan El Shaarawy’s goals now seemingly dried up. The Rossoneri have three relatively easy fixtures against Torino, Pescara and Siena left and you can be rest assured the “fox in the box” will be lurking in his favourite territory in order to add to his goal tally.

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