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'

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