Kaka entering the San Siro donning a foreign jersey. The two most storied clubs in the world facing off twice in the span of several months. This could not have been scripted any better. Destiny just had it that Milan first opponents of the Champions League group stage were the new Galacticos of Madrid: a team that over the summer spent nearly a quarter billion Euros to revamp its roster, and purge any Dutch player in the process.
At first thought, this is a great challenge for us since it's more convenient to play Real Madrid in the group stage as they're still gelling as a unit, rather than in a direct elimination face off later on in the contest.
As the draw continued, our second opponent was deemed to be the French club Olympique de Marseille, a team that some are predicting to be the fairytale of the group. There's definitely a chance, as Marseille (led by new manager Dider Deschamps) made some upgrades with a few eye opening acquisitions: Gabriel Heinze, Fernando Morientes, and Lucho Gonzalez.
So far we were pitted against arguably the two best teams from pot 2 and 3. Next up, the final draw. I took a quick glance at the teams placed in pot 4, after reading a slew of foreign clubs whose names I will not even attempt to pronounce, only one team in particular stood out: VfL Wolfsburg. Wonderful, with our luck on the day, all we needed as the final team were the German champions to join our group of death.
Whew, Zurich: the giants of Switzerland who are still minnows in Europe, and although I am not an expert on Swiss Soccer, I've heard that this is a tricky squad that certainly cannot be taken lightly. Historically, Milan is a team that performs better against tougher opposition. Last year, we were ousted from the Europa League because we seemingly undermined our weaker opponents, losing concentration and perhaps not giving it a full 100% effort.
Anyways, does anyone remember the Champions League semifinal win in 1989 against Madrid? Anybody?
Although the current Rossoneri defensive back line is a far cry from the famous "Invincibili" of that era, a repeat of that performance would surely draw headlines.
Now, there seems to be a bit of panic from Rossoneri supporters after the Derby Demolition, and yes Milan have seemingly distanced themselves a bit from the true elite teams of Europe. But ask me this, are Benzema, Kaka, and Cristiano Ronaldo playing on defense as well? Madrid won 3-2 in a nail biter over the weekend against Deportivo, playing a risky 4-2-4 formation susceptible to counter attacks. Their defensive line is a lot less glamorous than the attack: Garay, Albiol, Marcelo, and Arbeloa. The casual fan just thought "who, who, who, and who?" Granted, two of their best are out: Pepe is their most accomplished defender but has earned a reputation as a bruiser, and Sergio Ramos is dangerous pushing forward but a bit of a defensive liability at the back. I am confident that Pato will be a thorn in their side throughout both matches.
Have a bit of faith Rossoneri supporters!
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