Friday, July 31, 2009

five, awaiting sixth

Thiago Silva

Boca Juniors 1 AC Milan 1(4-3)
Last in America, and last in Germany. If fortunes are to be believed we might end up last in Italy as well. Boca Juniors aren't a team that can be laughed at. But this team from Argentina has significantly weakened in strength after the departures of Ever Banega, Fernando Gago and more recently Rodrigo Palacio. This means that their midfield and their strike force should be blunted? Well no, it was sharp as its always been .

That is because they were playing AC Milan. Boca are the kind of team that we should clinically brush aside. Not struggle and toil against. But we seem to enjoy doing the latter. Our defensive discipline was non-existent. We were diving into tackles without a clue, most notably Nesta and Flamini. Rash tackles seem to be the only way we could intimidate the opposition. We went up in the first half and held on purely by virtue of the opposition being weaker than our previous opponents. Our strikers were floating around without a scent of what they had to do, viz, score. Their positioning was rueful. Whenever the ball was played into the box, Borrielo and Pato would be involved in some sideline chatter. Pato, yes. After having seen him play in pre-season, I would consider it an honor to take him personally to the Bridge and drop him off. Oh, I wouldn't mind dropping him of a bridge either. Such is my fury. He has been a remarkable waste of resources and trust. He tried to be something that he is not-'clever', when he attempted to round off Abbondanzeiri. Doing that to a man who has remained Argentina's guard between the posts for so long, would require tremendous skill, quality and experience..three facets he is abundantly missing in. He officially proved that he can't score with a defense in front of him, and by missing his penalty, he proved just a keeper also is hard to beat.

Silva has wiped away my apprehension concerning him. He carries ample responsibility upon his Brazilian shoulders as he replaces an icon, and he is performing his duties with massive conviction. His defense may not be water-tight, but he is a no-nonsense defender. His attacking prowess and scoring ability gives me the understanding that he can be considered for playmaking and attacking roles. This obviously deliberating the incompetence of the players currently engaged in those roles. Ronaldinho's sense of passing has depreciated greatly, much so its become comical. I can't believe the club takes him seriously. Borrielo hasn't scored as yet, and if the pattern is to be believed, he wont be scoring anytime soon. Antonini's performance was delightful and cries out loud for more chances. However, his standard of play dropped towards the end. Abate, who has impressed the tifosi along with his manager, was given a start yet again. But he is far more lethal in an attacking position and is rendered useless as a midfielder.

Along with the inability to win, there is something else that hasn't changed since last season. That is dealing with high balls, and challenging for the ball in the air. This is because the concept of jumping is yet to be introduced to this team. On the Boca goal, the ball is floated into the box, and Lucas Viatri heads the ball strongly across Storari, leaving the keeper with no chance. Jankulovski, who should have headed the ball away, was unable to lift himself from ground level. And I have seen 32 year olds jump, unless he is lying about his age.

We are to face Benfica next. The Portuguese side have had a very productive summer, recruiting the likes of Ramires, Saviola, Kierrison and Javi Garcia among others. Their attack will test our defensive muscle, and we are bound to fail. 5 defeats in a row, its not a stat to be proud of. But at Milan nowadays, what is?

Scorers -
Boca Juniors - Lucas Viatri 87'
AC Milan - Thiago Silva 27'


video

Thursday, July 30, 2009

audi is german..so was the ownage.

Ignazio Abate

Bayern Munich 4 AC Milan 1
Allianz Arena isn't the easiest place to go. Especially now, that Van Gaal has players who have the ability to create havoc like never before. Munchen are strong, even without Ribery or Lucio, they can make an impression that will go a long way before its forgotten. This team lacked Toni, Klose, Podolski, Schweinsteiger(until the second half), Lucio, Ribery and Borowski. Yet, the standard of play was as good as that of FC Barcelona. I am not being irrational, no, I am not. At the end of this game, you would have seen a fine example of how a good team plays and how a bad team plays. Munich would have probably had a tougher time against Arminia Bielefeld, a German club that finished last in the Bundesliga last season.

Lets take a simple aspect of the game which hold tremendous importance - passing. Bayern knew what they were doing with the ball. Their passing was crisp and enjoyable, even for me, whose a Milan fan. The ball moved and every pass was read with great understanding. This for a team which has been injected with many new players over the course of the month. Munich thoroughly defied the team chemistry law of the game, making it appear as though they have been playing for several seasons together. Milan on the other hand were appalling. The passes lacked conviction, direction or meaning. Milan evidently miss training often, or they spend far too much time showboating during training.
Braafheid, a Danish defender, who was purchased for 2 million euros by the Bavarians was provided with the duty of marking Pato, and he bullied the Brazilian with immense authority. Pato's unproductivity cannot be questioned any further, and his marriage has only hampered him as a player. He seems to exhaust himself of all the energy and enthusiasm with his wife. Ahem, ok. A striker is asked to shoot, to hold or to score. He can't do any of the mentioned. Abate was certainly the highlight and a livewire down the right. His movement and his clever passes earned him great respect in our eyes. The management would be brainsick to consider the option of loaning him post this display. Pirlo's goal did seem splendid when it was scored, but replays do suggest that the keeper was afraid of breaking his fingers. I guess he dint trust the gloves were good enough for a simple block. Once Silva and Nesta were substituted, I knew all hell would break loose. Oguchi and Kaladze, who epitomize dreadful defending formalized the clobbering by placing it on the scoreline. Kaladze very conveniently went to ground on the Schweinsteiger goal. Oguchi was made to look an oaf by Sene on the third goal, and the American summed up a catastrophic night by ball watching on the 4th goal, instead of marking Muller. Leonardo, wake up!

The gaffer lacks managerial experience. That I knew. But he lacks any sense of tactical awareness, that I got to know. What was he thinking when he took of a stable defensive pairing while replacing them with these clowns? What was he thinking playing Abate and Jankulovski as wingers, isolating the terrible Pato upfront? Why stick with Zambrotta when he was too busy trying to impersonate Lionel Messi, but failing miserably? Audi Cup is surely over, but I doubt the mortifying is.

Scorers -
Bayern Munich - Muller 12'+90', Schweinsteiger 80', Sene 89'
AC Milan - Pirlo 81'


video

Monday, July 27, 2009

ibra is now pronounced 'milito'

Diego Milito

AC Milan 0 Inter 2
Gillette stadium along with the millions of fans across the world would have wanted to experience a spectacle as the derby della madoninna was being played as a friendly. Something I would call a farce, but nonetheless it has inevitably been the greatest footballing rivalry in the history of the game. To stay up and witness this game wasn't meant to be an ordeal. But that is what it turned out to be.

Milito is Moratti's answer to the fans, when they cried "why Ibra?". And the 'Prince of Genoa' is proving his President right. The Argentine established himself as one of the finest strikers in the country with Genoa last season and was immediately snapped up by the free-spending Inter. He automatically provided them with the answer that Ibrahimovic kept looking for, when the latter faced Milan. The Swede has always lacked the bite when it comes to the big games. Milito dint bite, he tore away, ferociously. Cambiasso's delightful long ball was controlled and slotted past Kalac, after Oguchi and Kalac were left dumbfounded by a simple fake. This was the first of the two goals Milito scored. Post this, Inter attacked, Milan defended. However, there was a drift in the story as roles reversed and Milan engaged into a more attacking style. Close to the break, Milan did seem to be having the edge over their cousins. After the break, play resumed. What also resumed were Leonardo's atrocious replacements. Players who came on for Inter were the likes of Quaresma, Mancini, Cordoba, Santon, Stankovic. And players who came on for Milan were Odu, Zigoni, Abate, Antonini, Oddo. Get the drift? Come on, Leonardo isn't to be blamed. He has a weak squad, you may say. My response would be - Taking off Borrielo, Ronaldinho and bringing on Zigoni and Odu. Is that remotely sensible when you have Seedorf and Inzaghi on the bench? Food for thought. Not really, its common sense, viz largely lacking in Leonardo.

After these replacements, Inter were still that magnanimous side, and we were worse than their reserve team. The outcome, obvious. Inter came upon us like a flood, more like a plague and we had no answer. Inter's goal on the counter, was an outcome of sheer pace. Kalac again the clown between the posts. Oguchi Onyewu is nothing more than a giant who has his moments, but was skinned by Milito time and again in the game. Jankulovski was perhaps Milan's best player along with Ronaldinho. Gattuso had the sole intention of injuring the opposition. Post his conference, he might have realized, that the only way to bridge the gap is to take out the players and get the medics busy. There is a glimmer of hope, however. After the game, Leo spoke about the incompleteness of the squad. He has demanded re-enforcements and that is a positive sign considering our previous coach used to behave aphonic and employ Emerson just because he was signed by Galliani. Munich next, and their plethora of attacking talent cannot even be questioned. With the latest additions to their midfield, we will have more than just a few questions raised. Another defeat is certainly on the cards, and this should eventually bring out the wallet.

Scorers -
AC Milan - /
Inter Milan - Milito (4', 75')

video

Sunday, July 26, 2009

5-0 no more

Clarence Seedorf

AC Milan 1 Chelsea FC 2
Baltimore was packed. Tickets sold out. Two amongst the greatest clubs in the world were going to battle in a friendly. It was an awkward scenario. Two men who led Milan to great glory were on the opposition bench. A man who could lead Milan to greater glory had departed in favor of a bigger club. A depleted Milan and a rejuvenated Chelsea squad were going to square off, in which was arguably, a one sided affair. And no, last season's friendly isn't really a parameter, as one game doesn't form a trend. But that game haunted the Rossoneri somewhere, and provided for what could be a really daunting task ahead for the men dressed in white.

The game was very evenly balanced, as Leonardo decided to use his brain more and his enthusiasm less. He fielded a competent team that faced Chelsea with great bravery. Milan took the game to Chelsea, and the midfield was our trump card. The three men in Milan's midfield were clearly the 'Three Kings'. Pirlo passed the ball around with expertise, Flamini killed opposition play and Seedorf assisted Ronaldinho in the attack. Their synchronization was like joyous harmony. An absolute delight to behold. Silva and Nesta held the defense admirably and kept the dangerous duo of Anelka and Drogba remarkably quiet. Kalac wasn't expected to do much which is one of the reasons for a dignified scoreline. Zambrotta and Oddo were abysmal, and credit must go to the team for their performance did go unnoticed. Such was the show by the men from Milan. Ronaldinho's confidence was expressed beyond doubt and Pato's speed caught the Pensioners by surprise. Lampard was practically non-existent on the pitch. To do that to a world class midfielder, clearly indicates the level of play demonstrated by Milan. I am quite sure the execution of sheer professionalism by his boys took Leonardo by great surprise.

That unfortunately rigged his enthusiasm. After having witnessed an exemplary first half by Diavoli, Leo brought on the kids. There on, we barely kicked the ball. Chelsea found many more chances to exploit, and with Kaladze and Oguchi in defense, disaster was expected. And it did strike. The brigade of kids in attack assisting Inzaghi were neatly wiped out of the equation by the experts of defense. Following Kalac's oh so comical keeping, the Russian Ronaldinho scored his debut goal to seal the win for the club. Drogba and Zhirkov's goals were exceptional. Nothing much the defense could do about it. And no, I am not being sarcastic. No complaints there. But special mention must go to the goal we scored. Play was spread, ball was passed with supreme style before Seedorf blasted the ball layed down by Ronaldinho, past Cech. Lovely goal, technically high on quality. Very Milan like, of the old i.e.

However, the defeat was celebrated like a victory by almost all the fans I know. That includes me. Last season, we were thrashed like a bunch of playschool tots by an efficient and solid Chelsea slam-force. This season, we had our better players leave, our coach depart, our squad stranded. Chelsea had re-enforcements that will take them to Premiership glory. They have our coach, and a structure that can barely be shaken. Yes, David lost to Goliath. But David leaves with his head held high.

Scorers -
AC Milan - Seedorf (38')
Chelsea FC - Drogba (7'), Zhirkov (69')


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Thursday, July 23, 2009

clubbed by america

Leonardo

Club America 2 AC Milan 1

Our second game in the World Football Challenge. It was against yet another minnow. And we still can't put in a respectable performance. A friend told me after watching the highlights of this game-"This defence will not win you anything." It actually will. It will win us a lot more disgrace and shame.

The reasons for our constant debacles is being laid down to lack of fitness. Seriously? Aren't we fit enough to kick the ball and run around. Having watched Milan play this game, it reminded me of the good ol' days when we used run around a mud ground kicking at the ball wildly. The men in red and black seemed to adopt similar tactical approach for this game. The defense was an insult. Both the goals were conceded under amateurish circumstances. Onyewu on the first goal was left ball watching, where was the defender who nullified the effect of Torres and Villa in the Confed Cup? Two of the finest strikers on the planet were left impotent by this defender, and here he seemed like a guy who was recently introduced to the sport itself. On the second goal, both Oguchi and Favalli were positioned so poorly that Nelson Rivas would feel proud to call himself a centre back. Zambrotta was asked to defend that flighted ball, and he couldn't. One plus point was the goal we scored. Flamini's chip into the box and Inzaghi's run combined with the finish left a gleam of hope within me that its not the end of the road. Even if we do concede, we have the potency to score.

The person I am most furious with is Leonardo. The recently appointed coach is treating his power like a video game. Why play kids who won't get a chance to play in the main season? Why keep changing the team chemistry? Obviously, the kids in the team aren't good enough to contend for the main team, so why play them and not give the main team players some playing time. This formation isn't meant for Milan, and if he needs a thrashing from Chelsea and Inter to prove the point then so be it. Chelsea are next, and having pawned Inter in their previous game, the will set upon a rampage when they face us in two days time. Oh I am so sure of that.

Scorers -
Club America - Esqueda (55'), Marquez (84')
AC Milan - Inzaghi (65')



video

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

seeing stars

Thiago Silva

LA Galaxy 2 AC Milan 2

Harry Potter. I was watching the Half-Blood Prince as Milan were testing their mettle against Galaxy. The last few weeks have been troublesome and I did feel, for a change, it would be nice to go for a movie, rather than watch 90 minutes of a dilapidated Milan. And what do you know? I don't seem to have missed anything!

The story from last season repeated, as Milan went ahead twice only to have lost their lead twice. And the new re-reinforcements in defense aren't providing a great deal of quality. It can be argued, that Nesta has only returned after a year long absence, and that Silva needs time. But, I fancy these excuses will last till season end. Its true, Milan landed only the day before the game, and being only their second game in pre-season, they cannot be condemned unto failure so soon, but it seems like this squad is destined to just that. I don't have complaints in attack. With Pato missing, Borrielo but only coming back from injury, evergreen Inzaghi oh so reliable to poach and an additional striker surely arriving, Rossoneri can rest in peace in that department. Its the defense that concerns me.

Watch both the goals, and you recognize the catastrophe that Milan were last season, is still the case. Both the centre backs were nowhere in the picture on both the goals, the wingbacks were shaking hands with the linesmen or ogling at some yank chicks on the first goal. And on the second goal, there was no one marking the far past. The basics of defending, have gone for a walk when it comes to this club. So, the question must be asked again. Can Nesta+Silva be trusted? My answer remains 'No'. Silva isn't anything more than a promising defender, and Nesta is most certainly past his prime. The wingbacks surely have no defensive sense, and can't be counted on. With Abbiati out, there is a guarantee that we will concede. And our midfield isn't at par with the giants of Europe either, to sync play. Is this squad in crisis? Don't count yourself a genius for having answered the question with a 'Yes'.

Leonardo is so busy trying to make this team into a 'Barcelona', he quite can't look at the holes in the squad that are gaping at him. The squad is as good as Barcelona B, dare I say. Its as I read, either too old, or too young. And is quite frankly lacking any sort of quality to finish in prestigious positions in any tournament. Moreover, the task of providing success is vested in the hands of a man, who recently finished his diploma in coaching and a certification from UEFA. A miracle wouldn't be enough to save this team. But let's not lose hope, as only time will tell.

Goalscorers -
LA Galaxy - Alan Gordon, Bryan Jordan
AC Milan - Thiago Silva, Inzaghi


video

Monday, July 13, 2009

kick-off

Leonardo

AC Milan 2 Varese 0


I am not interested in starting this report by complaining because after having seen Silva in those brief highlights, I am flummoxed, enraged and frightful of what is to come if he is to become a regular for the new season. I will however, get to that later. Leo started his new adventure with the squad presented to him, and the start can be branded as heartening. Hats off to Leo, who has been presented with a squad of players capable of finishing only 10th in the league, but has been demanded of a top 3 finish, which is safely 7 positions above this team's capabilities. Leo, a fresh diploma holder, has a daunting task ahead.

If this performance and the result is anything to go by, then there is still sometime before we embark on Serie C adventure. That does give me a sigh of relief, but barely so. Leo has decided to employ a 4-3-3 formation for this side. I can't say that it hasn't crossed my mind that this isn't inspired by the historic Barca side that conquered all of Europe last season. Attacking wingbacks, wide forwards, dynamic and attack minded play, short passing, and limited emphasis on defense. Very trademark of the recently 'legendary Barcelona'. Inzaghi's two goals, typical poacher efforts, give me the understanding that this man will never age, nor lose the ability to score. Antonini's contribution and game play makes me wonder why he isn't starting. Silva's contribution and game play makes me wonder why he is. There might be accusations raised against me for having held a certain mindset against him, but he never helps me change it. Just in the highlights, there were 2 occasions where Silva was skinned by a Serie C level striker. To make matters worse, he no longer has a invincible Nesta beside him. Vintage Nesta is, but he is also touching 33 and hasn't played for over a season. Unlike Barcelona, who have powerful, effective centre backs, Milan have muppets for that position.

Upfront, we look deadly, menacing. Ronaldinho seems to have realized his significance in this team, and lived up to it with a good performance. Borrielo was used as a wide striker which he brought to the media's attention quite immediately. Pato's isn't fit enough to play, or so it is believed. And with Fabiano's arrival, we won't be considered impotent anymore. Hernanes, also could be on the flight to Italy, which is comforting news. The future isn't bright, but it isn't as bleak as expected either. But let's not forget, this was a Serie C side that we faced.

Goal Scorers -
AC Milan - Inzaghi
Varese - /


video

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

my birthday gift

Oguchi Onyewu

I am sure this transfer has rocked the Rossoneri population. As I casually browsed the news, the link of this transfer came up. Ironically, this was not much after I had entered 'awaiting his birthday gift from the club he so dearly loves' as my status message on fb. I was furious. Reason - I thought Milan have signed yet another youngster whose name none beside Galliani has heard of. I open the link and see the photo. The result - ecstasy!

I can't be blamed for the non-recognition by player name. It is an odd name after all. But the face and build, and that badge, I wont forget. The "Gooch" is the first major signing by Milan this season. The reason I was ecstatic is because I have seen this American play, not very long ago. He dominated the likes of Torres and Villa, an ability not vested in many. at 6'4", he is a monster. He provides that ariel protection that we have lacked dearly over the season. He comes in on a free transfer, fantastic for a club that thinks anything more than 20 million euros is too much for a top class striker. He holds a Belgium passport, that negates him from occupying that precious non-eu slot. He is 27, and not 37. He played for the likes of Metz, Newcastle and Standard Liege. He has played for 4 years in the Belgian League, and though he doesn't have the kind of experience required to don the centre back for the likes of Milan, he has the stature and the ability. Going by the stalwarts he will be surrounded by, this is a fantastic platform for the American to display his power, and strength.

It might not be a Cr9 or a Kaka signing. It might not be the smartness of Benfica in the market. But its a start. We are covering our bases well. He may not necessarily start, but he will give Silva sleepless nights and challenging duals in the training ground. That is a good thing, competitively keeps the squad alive. He signs a 3 year deal with the club that will keep him till June 30 2012. As he comes from Standard Liege, he brings 4 years of Belgian football experience, as well as the learning's he might have acquired over the 47 caps he earned for his nation. This to me is a 'Owen-like' transfer. If it doesn't work, no big deal. But if it does, it can be a jackpot. It might not be a signing of great promise. Its certainly a signing to look forward to.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

brand building

David Di Gennaro

Giuseppe Favalli

Andrea Pirlo

Alexandre Pato

The management this season has more than just a squad to build. The task ahead involves building the brand 'AC Milan' as well. The last few seasons have been lethal to the sustainability of this global sporting brand. The sale of Kaka is nothing but a sucker punch, one that Milan wont recover from for a long time to come. The road ahead is tedious and extremely challenging, but it can be done.

For starters, considering the sale of Pato and Pirlo is surely not the way to go. A diminishing presence we don't want to be, and certainly not become a 'Napoli'. We are far too big for that. Galliani recently came out in the press, and said that the club has rejected a massive bid for Pato. First of all, I question the credibility of the bid. The management is in a selling mode, and if whispers are to be believed, Berlusconi wants to recover as much as possible before he passes on this baby of his to a Sheik. Kaka's sale for an incredibly low amount is proof that balancing books is just a false story fabricated to appease the fans. Why sell Kaka, if the debt was only 68 million euros? But if Pato and Pirlo are sold, there is no chance for redemption. There is a good chance that we can get anywhere between 60-70 million euros for the pair, but the extent of damage it can cost is beyond repair. Pirlo recently showed the world that he cannot be written off. Also, Pato is probably the strongest player of his age on the planet. Moreover, these players are the core of the team, and after losing the heart and soul of the team over the summer, losing this pair is sheer disintegration. Its not like the club is in a state of penury. With the sale of Kaka, the club has balanced the books. So why sell anymore if we can't bring in competent replacements?

To make matters worse, we have renewed Favalli's contract by a year. People believe this has been done to reward Favalli's performance last season. It also is a way in which Silva can be mentored. I have a problem with both these approaches. Favalli looked good last season, well, so did Senderos. The reason being, Paolo Maldini. Favalli was good, but definitely not good enough. Every time we faced a strong opposition, Favalli would run for shelter. The coming season, we will be in Champions League, and God forbid we run into the likes of Madrid, United, Chelsea or Barcelona with Favalli in central defense. Coming to the mentoring bit, I personally don't regard Silva as a good defender. Having seen him play last season, his positioning and defending attributes are highly questionable. To have one mediocre defender being mentored by another is pointless. Its like one blind man leading another. Some say, Favalli is experienced. Ok, how much of the experience has he brought onto the pitch?

We have signed David Di Gennaro permanently from Genoa. The 21 year old Italian striker spent the last season with Reggina, and if i remember right, also scored against us. The benefit of having him in the side? He is homegrown, Italian and a worthy replacement to Pato in time of need. Word is we have signed Giacomo Beretta from U.C. Albinoleffe. Who is he you may ask. I don't know is what I would say.

For an Italian club to have a strong international fan base is more than just commendable. Its truly marvellous, what Milan have done over the course of history. They are globally loved, accepted and appreciated club. But, we are on the verge of decline. We have signed enough kids for the next 10 years, but what we need now are names, big names. Names that would bring recognition and recall in the mind of the spectators, names that would bring in the MNC's for endorsements and sponsorships, names that would make this club great again.