Saturday, January 30, 2010

the wait continues

Davide Di Gennaro

AC Milan 0 Udinese 1

Coppa Italia is an important trophy. Yes, it is. That is why Udinese had a full strength team on the pitch while Leo decided to try out his rookie comrades. The result was inevitable. Home or away, no difference. The management keeps forgetting that its the red and black side of town and not the blue and black side that they are managing, where a second string team can be employed against a full strength Juventus to secure progression. Sadly, the realization is taking its own sweet time to dawn on the hags.

It was a fresh, new look team. The motivation to impress the boss was high. We were so quick that even with a younger side we were second best to the ball in open spaces. Udinese were having the better chances, and it was showing as Abbiati was called into action very often. Shortly, Handanovic was also feeling the ball. Bonera and Kaladze were falling all over each other in sheer delight of finding themselves wearing the Milan shirt and playing in a competitive game. So overwhelmed were they that Abbiati had to work overtime to keep the scorelines level. Alexis Sanchez was Udinese's best player by a distance, and he was skinning Antonini often on the left. Inzaghi was largely selfish, trying to impersonate Messi on one occasion but hopelessly getting it wrong. Our defense doesn't seem to understand the meaning of clearance. They played possession football in the box, and Sanchez was the successful monkey, Inler pounced on the loose ball to send the Zebras through. Di Natale and Flores were giving our centre backs a torrid time, but their finishing let them down. The away side organized themselves really well, and kept us at bay for the rest of the game.

2 defeats in 3 days. AC Milan are finally hitting sanity. The honeymoon wasn't going to last. Its time that Leo's pigheadedness doesn't either. The newbie thinks that each club is restricted to only one formation, and he uses this lunatic formation in every game. The bloke doesn't understand that the better teams do their homework and have the task-force to see it through on the pitch. I reckon he would learn by the end of April. Di Gennaro is probably the best replacement for Pato in the current squad. Sorry, I mean was. The management decided to loan him out to Torino. It will be ironical if he features for his team later today and scores against us. Trust me, I'd like to see that happen.

Scorers :-
AC Milan -
Udinese - Inler 55'

Highlights -

Monday, January 25, 2010

miserable milan

Diego Milito

Inter Milan 2 AC Milan 0

I was seated at home with two of my closest friends, to witness a game that every Milan fan lives for. Unfortunately, it was a feeling of deja vu. As the teams lined up, I pointed at Milito and told my friend "he will score tonight". The rest as they say is history. It was an appalling performance from Milan, but it left me highly embarrassed because I had been bragging so much about this 'great club'.

Without Nesta and Pato, we were considerably weakened. Inter capitalized on our lack of favored personal, and their might showed in the domination in the early stages, resulting in a top drawer finish from Milito. Abate displayed defensive skills that would give the lame hope. We were nowhere in the game, our pathetic defense was essentially our downfall. Our passing was disjointed and we appeared afraid (and rightly so). Oodles of open space for Inter to pass and play their game. They were hitting us with their pace, especially on the counter. Rocchi the ref decided to even things out, he joined the red and black brigade by sending Wesley Sneijder packing for merely clapping. Then on, it was 10 against 12. On the attack, we were getting close. But the Inter defense were supremely organized and were like a rock that we were trying to crack down with a hammer. Abate continued to get skinned by Milito. Seedorf was brought on for the anonymous Gattuso at the half.

We started the second half on a strong note. Cesar was forced to produce a point blank save, and Ronaldinho volley went marginally wide. Beckham's crossing was exquisite, Borriello's heading was equally poor. Pandev's and Milito combined fantastically, the Macedonian was denied by the post. However justice wasn't to be denied to Inter's latest acquisition. His freekick was sublime; maybe our set piece takers should learn a thing or two. What baffled me was that we were continuing to pour in the crosses into the box as Borriello struggled against Samuel and Lucio. The two centrebacks were winning the aerial duel hands down, but we persisted with the strategy. We were restricted to shoot from distance and quite often the ball boys had to shuttle to the moon to collect the ball. Huntelaar, when brought on started causing numerous headaches to the Inter backline, making Cesar work and bring out his true quality. He then proved to the world why he is truly the best net-minder on the planet with his penalty save along with the other world class saves.

This derby has taught me many lessons. One primarily is, Scudetto is easily a 150 years away from where we are. We will never challenge for the title unless we do what Inter did; spend. We need top players in the first team; Gattuso's, Abate's and Dida's wont do. Leonardo is not a title winning coach, not yet. He needs to have a superb team at his disposal for his tactics to work, and he cannot ring in results with a mediocre side. Pirlo should stop taking freekicks. And finally, we need to focus on the Coppa Italia for the next 25 years, because realistically, that is the only tournament that we stand a chance of winning!

Inter - Milito 10', Pandev 66'
Milan - /

Highlights -

Monday, January 18, 2010

ronaldinho returns


AC Milan 4 AC Siena 0

Yes, we scored 4 too, without conceding 3. We dominated the game, set the standards and brought the world to a halt as Ronaldinho weaved his magic around the fashion capital of Italy. Inter; watch and learn. Siena were never going to be easy. They had a renewed sense of self belief after they nearly sent Inter crashing last week. This time however, the script wasn't going to be like a James Bond flick which would result in a nervy climax. This time the script would be more down the lines of Dark Knight; entertainment from the start to the finish.

Siena had learned that the key to shut Milan was to hustle them and play an attacking game, and for the first 10 minutes, Siena were the more dominant team. But after Brandao's unexplainable mistake followed by Curci's sending off, ACM transformed into the monster they have come to be known as in recent times. Borriello had done well to earn the penalty. I felt sorry for the Robur. They had to play the first and second placed teams, at the San Siro in one week. Borriello had a few chances in the game. One in particular was a free header from a superb cross from Abate. Anyway, he might have missed the target then but he scored from a tight angle to make it 2-0. His 7th of the campaign. I absolute loved the one touch pass that Pirlo played in the midfield. It reflected the elegance of a player of his class. For majority of the game, we simply knocked the ball around.

Ronaldinho continued to dazzle one and all with his flashy runs and near perfect finishes. AC Milan attacked from the wings, with the Brazilian being the heart of all the attack. Both the full backs, Antonini in particular were having outstanding games. I have always liked Antonini and after this game, I like him even more. His forward runs and his understanding with R80 is commendable. Dida who was a mere spectator for nearly the entire game, came up with a save from point blank range. This could keep Abbiati warming the bench for long. Ronaldinho's third was an absolute beauty, and fully deserved as it capped his best performance in an ACM jersey till date.

I find football to be a humorous game. Its a matter of perspective. Some might consider it romantic, some might consider it plain fun. Inter played Siena last week, we played them this week and we play Inter next week. There has been a few standards being set, and most likely, this Derby Della Madonnina will have a lot more riding on it than just pride. We got some respect to earn and a trophy to win. Will we is an altogether different question, but we cannot be more prepared.

Milan - Ronaldinho pen 12', 72', 89', Borriello 27'
Siena - /

Friday, January 15, 2010

two indispensable

Filippo Inzaghi

Mathieu Flamini

AC Milan 2 Novara 1

Kaka said it. Maldini said it. Pirlo said it. Gattuso said it. So did Inzaghi. What? That they will retire at Milan. Some have meant what they said. Some simply said it. If Inzaghi is going to join the latter group of players, it would be counted as a shame. He has been phenomenal for ACM for close to a decade. His ever predatory instinct have found him goals on practically every ground he has played in, and very few can contend with him as genuine impact players. He doesn't have it in him to play a full game. But Inzaghi wont understand that.

He was recently awarded a contract which he turned down, fueling speculation that he is on his way to the club which shot him into Italian top-flight, FC Parma. But, we need to hold onto him with all we got, because his experience and his poaching powers cannot be purchased or replaced. He showed it against Novara. His goal was a result of a lucky deflection, but he deserved it. A thorn in their flesh throughout, it was the first time that I saw the Italian not truly celebrate his goal. A clear indicator of his state of mind at the club. Another man impressed on the night, by getting on the score-sheet. He is a certain Frenchman, whose existence has been forgotten by many including his coach. With that screamer, for the umpteenth time, Flamini marked his arrival. He is being linked with a move to Spurs, and though his move to England appears unlikely, an anchor man of his ability wouldn't find it hard to attract suitors if he decides to leave. He is the future of our midfield, and has been since his arrival. Problem is, the future just doesn't seem to arrive with Leonardo sticking to the oldies. Both these players proved a point in this game, that they are here, and shouldn't be ignored. Point, should be duly noted.

We attacked a team that has acquired a tag of being giant killers after they knocked out Siena and Parma in this competition. The stadium was packed with 10,000 Novara supporters, who clearly outnumbered the Rossoneri faithful. Funny, since we were playing at home. We were clearly the better side, and the visitors were relying on the occasional counter to catch us off guard. Kaladze once again showed his class as a defender whilst providing Gonzalez all the time and space in the world to shoot. Jankulovski was incredibly threatening as an attacker. He has lost his touch in defense, and barely manages to threaten his attacker, so a slot in the front three is apt for the old Czech. He would do as an able deputy to Ronaldinho. Progression means meeting Udinese. Will we be prepared? Not sure, because United would be the next game. But progression is possible if we manage to motivate our fading gems, and think of Coppa Italia as more than a formality.

Milan - Inzaghi 12', Flamini 80'
Novara - Gonzalez 47'

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

conquering turin

Thiago Silva

Juventus 0 AC Milan 3

This was going to be the month that would test our mettle. So far, we are excelling, achieving results in flying colors. Genoa wasn't supposed to be easy, but we put in our best performance of the season. Juventus away wasn't going to be any easier, but yet we walked away after crushing them at home. It wasn't a vintage performance, but it reminded me of the classic Serie A which is now becoming rampantly entertaining. Juventus' defense forms about 80% of the Azzuri rear guard. After this display, Lippi will be forced to look beyond the Bianconeri for reinforcements.

Ciro knew that the only way to stop the Milanese juggernaut is to stop them from playing. He stacked up the midfield, man marked our front men reducing much possibility of free flowing football. The Italian also knew that we struggle most when the opposition plays an intensely physical game. And so they did. The midfield was highly congested and tight. But we scored against the run of play, Melo proving why he won the Golden Bin award. I found Juve's approach to be highly unprofessional. Hacking their opponents down every 5 seconds seemed to be the headline tactic.

We continued to be very nervy in the second half. Juventus attacked relentlessly. But Amauri and Diego had gone missing in the mist. Beckham's set pieces were poor by his standards, it resembled his performance. Juventus were clearly the better side as they were more assertive. Silva and Nesta did all within their grasp to see to it that nothing went past them; they were successful. Pirlo replaced Beckham as the corner kick taker, and what do you know, we have our second goal! Although, it was with a bit of luck. This sucked the spirit out of Juventus which showed in their output for the rest of the game. Their back four were caught kicking the air on Ronaldinho's second and our third. Woeful defending is just being polite.

Its a triumphant win. We weren't pretty but after six long years, we walked out of Turin with the champagne bottle. The delight in the team was largely evident. One look at the celebrations should tell you how fired up the players really were. We showed Italy, and Europe, that we don't need to be at our best to win. We adopted a very different game-plan with the same team that thumped Genoa, and secured the three points. The scoreline is flattering, yes, but that is because we did take our chances. Silva, is my man of the match. The highly under-rated defender has been a rock at the back. This is a compliment and it doesn't mean he has been immobile. Though Nesta has won the plaudits and has been hilariously labeled as the best defender in the world, it is a certain Brazilian who plays beside him who is actually securing our wins.

Juventus - /
Milan - Nesta 29', Ronaldinho 72', 88'

Thursday, January 7, 2010

ll capitano

Massimo Ambrosini

AC Milan 5 Genoa 2

Our tradition of having remarkable captains isn't threatened. Massimo Ambrosini. A very under-rated player. But never questioned as a leader. He is one of the finest box-box players in Europe, yet he has his share of critics. What I witnessed on Wednesday night, was an example of what a leader really is, and how he is supposed to demonstrate his leadership skills. Not only should he excel in what he does by outshining his more illustrious team-mates, but also hand the ball to a striker low on confidence so that he can convert a penalty. Speak of leading from the front.

With Pato, Zambrotta and Seedorf missing, playing Genoa was going to be that much harder. Yet we started strong and should have gone one up if not for Amelia's wonder save. Genoa's idea was to catch us with their pace on the counter attack and I would be lying to say that their approach didn't trouble us. Ambrosini won the penalty early on in the game with his zippy run, and up stepped Ronaldinho. I was surprised watching the Gaucho miss. Amelia was going to have one of those nights. He was being labeled as one of the worst keepers in the league over the course of the first half of the season, and he simply had to set some records straight. We were beginning to drill holes in the Grifone's defense. Genoa's most potent striker opened the scoring as he headed home after a lapse in concentration in the Milan box. Abate was the culprit and should be blamed for the opener. but, should he, as he isn't a natural full back. Ambrosini won us our second penalty, this time Amelia was the offender. Ronaldinho found redemption. We then stamped our authority when Silva finished after a number of chances went begging in the opposition box. Honestly, I was a bit taken aback when Borriello celebrated his goal. It was at this club that Borriello found national recognition and stardom, and he wasn't doing them justice by pumping his fists in delight. The Rossoblu began to see more of the ball in the second half, as we took our foot off the pedal. If the first celebration was weird, the second was plain absurd. The scissor kick was a gem, but run around the park in your inner as you toss your shirt around? You might wonder why I am getting so worked up, but I wouldn't like it if Kaka/Sheva came home with another team and started dancing after scoring. David Suazo had spent the entire evening smelling grass, and he had Nesta to thank for, who surprisingly wasn't sent off for incessantly fouling the Inter man. The skipper of Gasperini's side got a handful of Ronaldinho in the box, and Hunter was given the ball to score his first at the San Siro. He did, and relief was imminent. Suazo finally got his due, after Nesta's fooling around was capitalized by the forward before finishing with some confidence. Special mention must go to Antonini who put in his best performance of the season so far.

This is a huge win. Not just numerically, but philosophically too. We have instilled some fear in our opponents. Juventus aren't particularly looking forward to Sunday. With Pirlo playing higher up, Ambrosini bossing the midfield, Ronaldinho finding his touch and Borriello going on a rampage, the Bianconeri know that its not going to be a walk in the park. At least for once, we are going away, in a very tough fixture, as overwhelming favorites.

Scorers -
AC Milan - Ronaldinho pen 32', Silva 38, Borriello 48', 61', Huntelaar pen 74'
Genoa - Sculli 25', Suazo 79'

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Dominic Adiyah

David Beckham

Firstly, I would like to wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous New Year. Not that the bigwigs at Via Turati are bothered about us having a good start to the year, but season greeting nonetheless. Evidence enough for my claims by the introduction of two wing players. No, these two aren't sidekicks to Barney Stintson, but new average arrivals to the painfully poor squad available to a hapless Leonardo.

We are apparently building a team for the future, and we go ahead and sign a 20 year old, who has tremendous promise, and supposedly achieved at a young age what Aguero, Forlan and Messi have in the past at the U-20 world cup. Which is all good. Then arrives a 34 year old David Beckham. A player who will stay at the club for a period of less than 6 months. Now, the problems I have with these transfers are that they are the only ones to heat the Milan market this winter . Adiyah might not feature very often this season, and it would be foolish to expect him to displace either Pato or Ronaldinho. This kid has pace and skill. But in this day and age practically every 19 year old has these attributes. Does he have a cutting edge game worthy to don the red and black? Oh sorry, I forgot that Dida, Borriello and Kaladze are still members of this squad. I wouldn't know much about this Ghanaian, but that he has been signed from Fredrikstad, which is a Norwegian team.

Moving to Beckham.. why oh why would he think coming to Milan would help him seal a place in the national team tripping to South Africa? Leo's ultra-offensive 4-2-1-3 is creating ripples in Europe and the starting 11 know who they are even before training. Where is Beckham going to fit in? Can he displace either the irreplaceable Pirlo or the hard working Ambrosini, or fill in Pato/Ronaldinho's boots? The flat answer is, No. Beckham is a wide player, and that area is sufficiently full at the moment. It has been so hard to break into this position, that an attack minded Abate had to accept the role of a fullback just to earn some playing time. Beckham is merely going to be a pretty boy posing for the cameras, on the bench. Leo isn't the most adventurous of gaffers around. Borriello puts in one decent performance and goes missing for the next 3 games. But he is still guaranteed 80 minutes a match, as Huntelaar watches on. Beckham, to change the Brazilian's thinking? Not so.

We could have/should have snapped up Pandev on a free. But we didn't want to sever our relations with Lazio apparently. It leads me to assume that Galliani wants to run a human relations corporation and not a football club. The Macedonian would've provided us with the much needed option of an established/proven wide-man, a luxury, taking into account the kind of scrap we scrape up beneath the first eleven. There are however, other pressing needs in the team and we are busy piling in the wingers. When will the centre back arrive, and the left back, what about him? Galliani has some questions to answer. Kaladze, on the other hand, has a walk to take.