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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