Thursday, September 24, 2009

one man defense

Alessandro Nesta

Udinese 1 Milan 0

Friulli has been a happy hunting ground for us in the past. We have had the quality of players to go there and get the desired results. By players, I strictly mean quality professionals, and not 11 men. This time round we had one professional and 10 other men. The one man was Nesta, and he, with some support from Storari, kept this game and scoreline, even (Or almost).

For the first several minutes of the game, it was a deadlock. End to end football with no meaning or purpose in the play. Udinese played a direct style of football. The home side continued to dominate the half, and this domination finally paid off. Oddo amateurishly played Isla onside, when the rest of the defense were holding the defense line superbly. Isla skips past Zambrotta like he wasn't there, takes a shot which beats Storari, hits the post comes off at a relatively high speed, bounces off Di Natale into the back of the net. Serie A's top scorer wasn't marked and scored an absolute fluke. But everything said and done, they deserved it. Oddo almost assisted the second goal with a misdirected nod. How he manages to feature in a Serie A side, repeatedly, surprises me beyond boundaries. Another aspect of the defense that I noticed was that we were playing very close to the half line. This was extremely dangerous, as the quick Udinese counter caught us off balance a number of times. Nesta had a chance to level the score, as he headed against the post. We continued to pile in the crosses, but the absence of any BIG striker rendered those crosses timid. Inler and D'Agostinho were dominating the game in central midfield. The Swiss international got past Flamini and took a shot from distance that was parried away by Storari. Zambrotta was having another mediocre outing, as he was continually skinned by Flora Flores. Pirlo was dictating play very well, and his masterclass pass wasn't latched onto well by Seedorf. The Dutchman was a major let down today. Gattuso continued his horrific tackling style, and how he lasted without seeing a red questions the knowledge of the official about the sport. Di Natale had a chance later on to double his tally, but he hit the post on a one-one with Storari. We couldn't quite penetrate the watertight Zebrette defense, and were restricted to taking shots from distance. Pato got subbed later on, after putting in yet another poor performance. This kid excites me and frustrates me alike. After the introduction of Ronaldinho and Abate, we looked a very different side. We metomorphosized into a dynamic team from a static one. Abate's creativity was exceptional, and he almost scored late on. Seedorf missed a sitter, after some magic by Ronaldinho, summing up the veteran's night. Udinese were defending in numbers, and they seemed content with the one goal lead. Huntelaar was brought in with 15 minutes left on the clock to do what he has never managed to do in a Rossoneri jersey; score. Flamini was picked up to emulate Gattuso, and the young Frenchman is following on the midfield General's footsteps identically. Flamini was sent packing after receiving two yellow cards in very short space of time. Ronaldnho had a chance late on, but was denied by an effective Handanovic.

We played well, and I wont take that away from this team. But we don't get brownie points for playing well. The result is what matters. Playing well and consistently winning is the stuff of champions, and we have lost that stuff. But being gritty and grinding out results, that is what counts when you are battling for Europe. This is an art mastered by the likes of Udinese, Fiorentina, Roma and Genoa. Milan are new to this battle, and will take time to settle. But would it dwindle from a battle for Europe to mid-table combat?

Scorers -
Udinese - Di Natale 22'
Milan - /


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