Saturday, February 27, 2010

abbiati to the rescue

Christian Abbiati

Bari 0 AC Milan 2

Headlines always tend to glorify a certain magician from Brazil. But the man who minds the net and supports fascism is often overlooked. Even if he provides the team with greater stability when compared to an aged ogre who is paid millions for letting in goals. Christian Abbiati is one of the most under-rated keepers in European football. He is no Buffon, but reliability is something he offers.

Bari came to defend, and use set pieces to cause us worry. If not for Abbiati, this game would have ended in a draw. He denied Barreto twice, from a free kick and a penalty. Our finishing up front has been dismal all season and there are no signs of that changing. To be solid at the back is therefore the only other option. Nesta and Silva have their days, but seeing Abbiati behind them makes me breathe a sigh of relief. Both our finishes during this game were exquisite. We created a lot of chances and took only two of the several chances. But we stayed firm at the back, and many a time that is what counts. Ronaldinho continued his fine form. Borriello got acrobatic and was successful yet again. Pato has found his scoring boots. All this is most certainly promising. Bonera is a misfit at left back and as we had seen midweek, wouldn't suit at centre back either. He should head the exodus with Kaladze in the summer. Fiorentina needed us to be lucky. This game required us to be professional. Bari had taken points of the big boys in their previous outings. But we didn't let them get away with it this time. Inter have gone through a bit of a blip. Looking at the table now, this is going to be a title race to remember.

Bari - /
Milan - Borriello 43', Pato 69'


Wayne Rooney

AC Milan 2 Manchester United 3

Many have often wondered, who is the best player in the world? Many have said its Messi, others believe its Ronaldo. I think its Wayne Rooney. An unconventional choice. Yes. With good reason, may I add. He has been in electrifying form this season. Predictions said that United will collapse with the departures of Ronaldo and Tevez. Rooney had to step up, and boy has he!

If we were going to get anything out of this game, we had to stop this industrious monster. Question was, with the creaky defense, would we? The writing was on the wall. We couldn't. Ronaldinho got lucky with the opener, and so did Scholes with the equalizer. We dominated the first half, but Huntelaar and Pato's finishing had gone on their honeymoons. Ronaldinho continued to demonstrate a threat from his shooting, while all other opportunities simply went by without causing a crease on the wrinkled face of Ferguson. However, in the second half, United came out the stronger side. Scoring the goal against the run of play, Milan's confidence got deflated and the third was a sucker punch. Valencia and Nani were running circles around our wing backs, and the crossing was therefore top notch, resulting in the uncharacteristic headers from the Englishman. Seedrof however scored with a peach of a finish. Bonera's incompetency to handle crosses has been amplified with Rooney's first as the Italian was coolly brushed aside before the looping header gave United the lead. On the second, Rooney's sheer brute force ripped the defense apart. Nesta and company were made to look like clowns on the football pitch. Such has been the case when we have played against a top top side. Yet, we go into the market and bring in two wingers in the winter. Some team management this is.

Will we turn this tie around? Flatly, no. Logic says this isn't possible. United are a winning machine. History has it, that they don't need to play well to win. We can't grind results out. Going to Old Trafford and turning in a performance to walk away with a 2-0 is asking for the stars, especially with Rooney hoping to add to his tally. If you are a Milan fan, redirect your attention to the Scudetto race, as the Champions League is only going to be another high profile outing. But dare I say, miracles do happen.

AC Milan - Ronaldinho 3', Seedorf 85'
Manchester United - Scholes 37', Rooney 66', 74'

Thursday, February 25, 2010

fair play di natale

Antonio Di Natale

AC Milan 3 Udinese 2

Apologies. Sincere apologies for having taken so much time to have resumed blogging. I moved continents and now am in Australia. So the shift has been a bit difficult. And for all practical purposes, I haven't had an Internet connection. But hopefully, now things should stabilize. 4 games need to be updated. They will be.

This was the last game that I watched in India before leaving to Australia. And watching Huntelaar score delighted me. Poachers have become a rarity in the game, and to see one at the age of 26 gives me some hope. Silva and Mancini made their way to the exit after injuring themselves. This caused some reason for concern. However, Ronaldinho opened up play once again as he set up Pato for the second. We managed to get some breathing space, but we were terrifically uncertain at the back. Dida was his clumsy self, and was constantly gifting the opposition with goal scoring opportunities. Flores has Dida to thank, as the Brazilian clowned around with a simple save. The second half had Udinese starting on a strong note. However, a certain Dutchman had his own ideas of dampening the resurgent Zebrette spirit, as he took his second with great aplomb. There was a dip in character from Udinese after conceding the third but Di Natale was having none of it. Udinese were crossing very well and Sanchez was giving our full-backs hell. Our passing in the final third was slack. Pato decided to switch off and that reflected in his careless passing of the ball. Beckham then gave Pato some company as his pass to Di Natale almost resulted in a goal. Favalli for all his experience, played Di Natale onside, and the Italian finished beautifully, giving his side a glimmer of hope. Beckham put in one of the worst performances in a Milan shirt that afternoon.

Di Natale was splendid. His runs, his movement, and also his extremely well taken goal. He commended Nesta when the latter put in a perfect tackle. He didn't go down in the box, under Dida's challenge, which could have resulted in a penalty and with Dida being sent off. This at a point, when there was plenty of time left on the clock and Udinese could have staged a comeback. But the veteran striker put in a very professional performance and needs to be congratulated on doing so. Something the media very casually overlooks.

AC Milan - Huntelaar 7', 57', Pato 39'
Udinese - Flora Flores 45', Di Natale 86'

Highlights -

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Daniele Bonera

Bologna 0 AC Milan 0

If you expect me to go lambasting Milan for this result, then you better stop reading right now. I have learned my lessons and chastising this club for poor performances consistently isn't something I'm going to indulge in. Why? Because it gets repetitive and boring. We aren't contending for any titles this season, so being pretenders, we will blow hot and cold throughou. Facts speak for themselves.

Mancini had trained very well and was given a chance from the start. Bonera, was deputising for Nesta. Finally, after much soul searching, we have found our man. The only question is will he stay fit. As a classic 'big team-small team' struggle, this game too was one sided in possession and chances. Our defense was unmoved by any threat that Bologna threw at us, much so I don't think I have seen a stronger display by the rear guard anytime before this season. All the moves the opponents started were nipped at the bud. Chances were being created, but execution was painfully poor. Can't blame Borriello, as he gave his all, and was orchestrating the moves up ahead. Ronaldinho was on hibernation mode for most of the game, save a few brilliant passes. Mancini decided to keep his game at a low profile. Seedorf turned in one of the classic anonymous performances. Ambrosini continued his fine form. But our best player was, wait for it, Andrea Pirlo. He was all over the place, challenging, creating, shooting. This is the Pirlo who is acclaimed world over as one of the finest on the planet. If only we could get to see more of the same.

Roma moved ahead of us into 2nd place with a lucky win over Fiorentina, Inter decimated Cagliari and Juventus are giving us competition on who will hit mid table quicker. Going by our potency and our lack of grit against the weaker sides, I don't think Juve will have it easy in their pacy slide. Leonardo's chocolate box image is still to turn sour. Will he, only time will tell. But lets give him time. Its not like we are in a hurry to win a trophy. We never have been.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

no. 30

Amantino Mancini

A few years ago, Roma were a great side. A side with world class players. A certain Brazilian carried that honor. All that changed when he decided to chase the euros and painted himself black and blue. Irony so had it, that his career also turned out to be portraying the same colors. 11 starts in 18 months at Italy's best club wasn't where Mancini had perceived himself. But he has been given a new lease of life, a second chance of sorts.

How many times have we seen an Inter outcast shine in Milan colors. I see something similar happening to this fallen winger. At 29, he isn't particularly young. But he provides the Rossoneri with much needed cover. He can play on either side of the wings, or through the centre if need be. He requires an opportunity to prove the world wrong. Galliani has given him just that. This transfer surprised me, but unlike all the surprises that Milan throws at the world, this one is rather pleasant. Its economically viable for a cash strapped side like ours. As its a loan deal, there isn't a multi million euro fee attached, and we have the option of buying out half his contract come season end for £4 million. Fair deal, a very shrewd one if I might add. He is also willing to cover at RB, a position that has been unaddressed throughout the season. Lets not forget that he started playing in that position.

He is no Cafu, and he will not emulate the legend. But if he can recover atleast 70% of his form at Roma for us, we have a lethal player in our ranks. Mancini is a good athlete, low on confidence, and being provided with an opportunity for redemption. One of the few recipes for success, this. Factors indicate a positive outcome. What's more, we got to hold on to a useful Czech.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

penalty dependence


AC Milan 1 Livorno 1

When our strikers decide to take the day off, the rest of the team goes diving in the box claiming penalties. This, even if they tripped on themselves. We were aware that after the last couple of games, we had to re-establish our repute. And therefore, we started attacking relentlessly. It was nice to see Abbiati guarding the posts. He brings a sense of security in the absence of the klutz called Nelson Dida. Even though we had a monstrous amount of possession, it was down to players like Beckham to test the keeper. Ronaldinho also found himself in the thick of the action as he hit the post from distance. Livorno finally showed why they are such a poor side when some awful keeping gifted Ambrosini the opener.

Borriello was injured and he made way for Huntelaar at the stroke of half time. I was relishing the prospect of watching him play, but was left very dejected by the Dutchman's performance. Livorno found their equalizer, as Favalli made a poor clearance, and the defense was left waiting for the flag as Lucarelli rushed past a motionless bunch of noobs to slot home the equalizer. Huntelaar used his footballing intelligence to get into positions, but just didn't have the finishing touch to him. On the basis of this game, Huntelaar isn't going to win anyone over. We persisted with the tactic of crossing the ball into the box, especially when there was only one player from Milan and the rest occupying the box were Livorno players, clearing the ball with absolute boredom.

Just to make things clear, Livorno is an ordinary Italian football club. Not good enough to draw against a global giant. So we should be dispatching them with great authority, but instead we dig a hole in the ground and hibernate there out of shame as the world watched. Complacency should be removed from our side if we need to give Mourinho food for thought. If we continue in this fashion, then we wont be looking up, but down. Roma, Fiorentina and Napoli are catching up. So our superfluous targets will come crashing down, and we might need to start working on securing the 4th position in the league. Too much ambition can lead to disaster. Therefore we need to count on the points that are available to us and grab them. Or else, Zaccheroni might be breathing down Leo's neck. The Brazilian wont be too keen on it. So Leo, wake up and smell the coffee!

Scorers -
Milan -
Ambrosini 44'
Livorno -
Lucarelli 53'

Game Highlights -