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AC Milan
Posted by Matteo Bonetti on 01/19/2010

It's that time of the year again. The day where my high blood pressure peaks to historic levels. The day several remotes will be smashed against hard, unforgiving surfaces. This Sunday marks the most anticipated match of the Serie A.

Milan vs. Intergentina. Round #2.

As you may recall, the first encounter ended in an embarrassing 4-0 defeat, with things spiraling out of control after the snarling dog Gattuso was sent off with a rugged tackle. But then again that was a completely different Milan team. Comparing it to this current squad seems like night and day. Leonardo was still tinkering his formation back then, trying to figure out what puzzle pieces fit in his master scheme.

Now Leonardo is the wily young tactician we were hoping to see, the Brazilian version of Pep Guardiola. The formation has been set. Certain players have stepped up - thanks to a surprising revelation by the name of Luca Antonini, who has played so well lately that he was even chosen as the weekly guest on La Domenica Sportiva.

On a side note, never doubt the will of a champion. Everyone was so quick to write off Ronaldinho, to label him as washed up, to even go as far as saying that he was a liability in the lineup. El Gaucho just played the best game of his Milan career. He scored a truly world class goal that was excitingly reminiscent of his glory days while sporting the blaugrana jersey. Watch all the goals here. I'm usually not a fan of statistics since they only tell half the story, but Ronnie has scored 6 goals in the last 3 games. Against Siena this past weekend he was a man possessed. Watching the game a second time, I noticed that he could have easily scored a whopping total of 5 goals. His unique swagger is back, he has a spring in his step, and most importantly he feels adored by the fans and his teammates.

Random Notes

- Amazing what confidence can do to a player, eh? Just ask Luca Antonini, who a few months ago was the epitome of mediocrity. Now that he feels comfortable with his role in the team, Antoninho seems like our best fullback. His motor never stops, his crosses and passes are pinpoint, and he has constructed a formidable partnership with Ronaldinho on the left side of the pitch.

- On a more negative note, my heart skips a beat every time Abate is tracking back on defense. He has all the athletic tools to become a world class fullback, but makes too many boneheaded errors. Average wingers who are matched up against him suddenly morph into Maradona replicas. Just take a look at what Rivas did to him in the Bari-Milan match several months ago. In his defense he's more of a right sided midfielder or winger, but Leonardo insists on youth and speed down the wing. Thinking of him attempting to defend Rooney in the upcoming Champions League fixture is enough to terrorize even the most optimistic Milan fan.


- I received an e-mail asking me why Milan is "so cheap" in the transfer market. Well, the answer is simple: they've realized that money alone doesn't buy Championships (it surely helps). The scouting for Milan has been phenomenal. They bought Kaka for nuts and bolts and sold him a few years later for nearly a €100 million. They imported a young pimply faced teenager from Brazil known as Pato, and now he has turned into arguably the most talented U-21 player in the world. Instead of buying the ultra-hyped "big name", management insisted on bringing over Thiago Silva from Fluminense, even though he wasn't eligible to play right away. Now he has turned into a stellar central defender who has formed a cement wall alongside Nesta. I could keep going on and on. Milan even donated around 14 million Euro's to Real Madrid's charity foundation and as a token of their gratitude they shipped us one of their Dutch massage therapists. In all seriousness, players brought over from small provincial sides such as Abate and Antonini from Empoli have had a significant influence. Dida was apparently brought back from the dead by a Milan shaman, Nesta from the IR, etc, etc. It's easy to throw out millions to everyone who has a popular name like what Real Madrid or Manchester City are doing, but has the money translated into success? I'm sure we might even see a check signed by Florentino Perez to acquire Antonini for € 50 million at the end of the year. Nothing surprises me anymore.

- Things to look out for: Will Nesta's injury cause him to miss the derby? He is indispensable at this point. Will Seedorf see any playing time? I'd rather have him in the formation than Gattuso, but injuries have slowed down the Dutchman as well. SoccerNet is reporting that Pato is out of the game, so Beckham will take his place. Will we see another twenty minute Huntelaar cameo? If it were up to me, I'd keep Borriello in the game throughout the length of the match. Inter's physicality can be countered by the Italian hitman. Huntelaar on the other hand, has the aggression level of a dead ficus tree.

Want more ramblings? Follow me on twitter for daily Milan updates.

Comments

Posted by Joseph Columbro "Fossa de leoni" on 01/19/2010

Matteo,

Fantastic article. My blood pressure is going to be also rising. Hopefully Nesta will be fit for this game. Defense is going to be crucial. But I believe that if Inter thinks they are going to breeze through this game, then they are sadly mistaken. Pirlo is playing amazing, and boriello is finally hitting his stride. And Ronaldinho... I think I said enough. There was alot of talk about Milan finishing at the bottom of the table this year. I guys ignorance is bliss for some of these journalists. Forza Milan

Posted by zia on 01/19/2010

Excellent article.
When Ronnie is happy, Millan will do good.
I am very happy that Nesta is back, he is amazing. But Thiago Silva is simply a class act in the back. In Milan vs. Siena, he was just rock solid. I love his Brazilian style defending which is very offensive too.
Millan will be victorious against Inter, insha'Allah (God willing).

Zia 3

Posted by Leo on 01/19/2010

Nice article I always look forward to reading them keep it up. On another note pato hasnt played this year, despite this we have played amazing and I wonder what leo will do when he and seedorf come back. There are only two players I will take out of our lineup for Inter, gattuso for obvious reasons and flamini because he is too card prone.

Posted by Anonymous on 01/19/2010

Forza Milan

Posted by Chris on 01/20/2010

Im tired of people who say they would rather see Huntelaar in instead of Borriello. But as stated in the article, Huntelaar's aggression level is 0. Borriello is much more aggressive up front than Huntelaar. Boriello's play which conceded the penalty against Siena was great. He never gave up on the ball even when the defender had complete possesion. Huntelaar wouldve given up on that ball. Boriello is a world class player, and I am glad to see him fit again.

Posted by Jozsef on 01/20/2010

I think this is a make it or break it game for both Inter and Ac. I think the winner of this game will go on to win the Seria A. I garee that Ac has been nothing short of amazing, I am also concerned for Leonardo because he did lose that game to Palermo just when things looked so good for Ac. Also Ac did have a great game against Juve; on the other hand Inter in the past few games have been playing the coming back from behind, therefore I think they have created this confidence that they can bounce back. If I was Leonardo I would strongly point out the squad that they have to be in the game 100% from start to finish. Otherwise I think this will be a great game, and I would love to see Ac walk away with the win.

Posted by Roberto on 01/20/2010

Inter will be going down this week.

Forza Milan!

Posted by punditguy on 01/20/2010

Hmm. There are some things that are a bit worrying for the upcoming Milan derby, concerning our injuries. Pato will not be playing for the next three weeks. Seedorf still out, but even worst than both Nesta MIGHT not play. Pato not playing in the Derby is very sad but considering the work done upfront it has been excellent! Thats why im much more worried about Nesta not playing because there is no one else that can replace him! Unless....Ambrosini or Flamini are willing to cover that area just for that game.

I have always said we dont need a RB, Antonini is the man! The first time i saw him play i was really impress but Ancellotti never played him or give him a good chance, just as he did with Ronnie.

Finally I must say....Leonardo Really made me put my foot in my mouth! I was one of those who was calling for his head! Great job Leo, im sorry for not giving you the time to do your job! He also has more balls than Ancellotti or maybe Carlo would prefer pick favorites over a class act

Posted by punditguy on 01/20/2010

Question for you Matteo.

Borriello has been outstanding for us this season scoring 7 goals and has done tremendous work through out the field when defending. But somehow he has not manage to net a goal in an away game. What do you make of it?

Secondly, for quiet some time now Hernanes has been link with Milan. Should they make a move for him summer and sign him who do you think he would replace and why?

Posted by limaGEORGE on 01/20/2010

am rooting all the way for MILAN.Jose is too proud

Posted by Ciaran on 01/20/2010

Pato wasn't exactly an unknown when he was bought by Milan. He was probably the hottest young player on the market when Milan bought him and the hype was crazy by the time he made his debut against Napoli. He played against Barca in the Club World Cup Championship before that for Internacional and Chelsea were seriously interested in buying him as well. Besides that point,a good article.

Posted by Matteo Bonetti on 01/20/2010

Punditguy:

- Regarding Borriello. It was the same situation during his brief spell at Genoa. He scored nearly everyone of his 19 goals at home. Regarding Hernanes: I have seen plenty of him recently and he reminds me a bit of a Lampard, with less of a cannon shot. He'd replace either Seedorf or Pirlo in the formation.

Ciaran:

- What I meant is that Pato's stock has doubled in two years since we've purchased him. To think that Inter spent more money on the likes of Quaresma and Mancini is another point to show how well Milan have handled their money lately.

Posted by Sam on 01/20/2010

Some interesting remarks there Matteo, I am concerned ahead of the derby as Milan do seem to be in great form and Inter look to be struggling a bit, particularly lacking balance in the middle of the park. Hopefully Cambiasso will be back to full fitness and maybe we can find a good left back. Should be another tough encounter though.
Have to remark quickly on one of your comments.I think you are being a bit coy with the transfer market business. Firstly it is well known that Milans owners family are none to happy with the financial situation and have reigned in the spending preventing the club making any serious moves on the market. Hence no major signing with the Kaka money. Secondly I would hardly say Pato or Tiago Silva were plucked from obscurity. Both were heavily followed and had several clubs chasing them, Pato in particular. I believe Milan bought him for some 18mil, hardly a small sum for such a young player! Forza Inter!!

Posted by Matteo Bonetti on 01/20/2010

Sam:

Never said they were plucked from obscurity, but in the past few season the transfer market + inflated fees has shown that signing promising players has been hit or miss. I agree with Milan's transfer policy, which basically entails finally focusing on youth, and not overspending. We could be like Real Madrid and just throw money at every huge name on the market, but Milan's strategy has been much more reserved. And the success now is evident.

Posted by Joseph BB on 01/20/2010

Great article Matteo, keep them coming.

I was wondering how you think milan are going to fare against man united. I think that it would be safe to say that if King Ronnie is not in the line for that game then we cannot win or at least a win would be very unlikely.

Posted by Des on 01/20/2010

Excellent article Matteo. You give many of the established writers on here a real run for their money. Keep them coming.

Posted by Matteo Bonetti on 01/21/2010

Joseph BB:

To say Milan has a very unlikely chance to win without Ronnie is a bit pessimistic. Fortunately soccer is not dependent entirely on one player, although he is vital for our success. Going with the assumption that he would be injured, Milan would field a Pato-Borriello-Beckham attack which is quite formidable.

Posted by Gia Duc from Vietnam on 01/21/2010

Excellent article as always Matteo.

I have just a few things to add:

Kaka was sold for 65 million euros, no small sum of money but certainly not the astronomical 100 million you quoted :)

You didn't mention Nesta's recent injury - he's a doubt for the derby. I've noticed Thiago Silva only plays well when Nesta is there. Even during the last game against Siena, Thiago Silva looked especially uneasy after Nesta was replaced by Favalli.

Most people don't remember that during the first derby this season where Milan lost 0-4, we were playing better than Inter until the first goal and Gattuso's red card. Back then, however we didn't possess the confidence and camaraderie we do now.

Milan is going through a period where everything we touch inside the box turns into a goal - think Borriello goal against Siena, which he admitted he didn't even see the ball coming and just hit with instinct. Let's hope that kind luck is on our side come Sunday - the luck of the champions as they say.

Posted by johnny on 01/21/2010

I only worry ac controls tempo and possession but concede to inter by stupid foul resulting in sneijder over a free kick or a fluke corner, Ac needs to just finish opportunity's because inter will provide plenty. I think Becks is the key in this one providing diamonds from the whip.

Posted by Arka on 01/21/2010

I am happy with how the Leonardo appointment is turning out. In England he would probably have been sacked by now, no wonder new English managers are not turning up... anyways, Ronaldinho, played his best game one match too soon? Anyways, can't follow the Serie A in my country, so no idea how Milan are playing... but, in all honesty, Rooney is a one man strike-force and I doubt Fergie would be starting with two strikers in a CL game. The United midfield lacks creativity, so as long as you guys can deal with Giggs/Valencia crosses, you guys should be fine! Can't stand United, really hope you guys go through!

Posted by Innocent on 01/21/2010

Good article Matteo. Keep it up. Forza Diavolo, it is Milan till i die.

Posted by Abdallah on 01/21/2010

Milan will win the scudetto i guess they won 10 of the last 12 matches they're amazin. U rarely find milan loosing and the result of prediction of the Inter VS Milan match is 60% milan wins, 30% inter wins, 10% they tie. So the prediction of milan winning the match is double the prediction of inter winning the match so things r goin right 4 milan. Probably milan will win. Im sure milan will win the scudetto

Posted by Tumelo on 01/21/2010

Wonderful article. Reading between the lines, your loyalty to Milan cannot be questioned. The last match between the two almost brought me to tears, and I still do not have enough courage to watch this one.

Milan is my heart, from the days of the three wise dutchmen: Rijkaard, Gullit and van Basten, not forgetting the legendary Baresi. Inter on the other hand, and without any disrespect intended, has become our worst nightmare lately no matter how well we play. We need that sadly, to keep us in check. It's just hard to get used to. Milan for life.

Posted by Matteo on 01/21/2010

Great article. I think the portion about Ronnie coming back into form was inevitable, I even predicted the same at the start of the season on my blog the offside trap but I'd rather enjoy watching him than gloat.

Placing faith in a player that has never really proven himself over the course of an entire season in known memory, i.e. Boriello is a mistake I feel. Though I have to say, technically he is a real wonder these days.

It is incredible how Milan are really very similar to Arsenal in their transfer/purchase strategies, while they are quite the opposite on the subject of player ages. Still, I see Milan and Arsenal becoming the two richest clubs in the world for this prudent behavior.

As for the notion that Milan can beat Inter without first preference Pato, I think we are deluding ourselves. Guardiola never had to face 'The Special One' and I don't think Leonardo's men without Pato and Nesta are ready for winning against Inter this year. Sad but true as I love Milan.

Posted by Nacho Libre on 01/21/2010

This article is especially delicious. Well done Chancho!

Posted by Italia on 01/21/2010

"Milan even donated around 14 million Euro's to Real Madrid's charity foundation and as a token of their gratitude they shipped us one of their Dutch massage therapists."
That is one of the most hilarious statements I've read. I understood it immediately because I too always joke about bad players performing humiliating jobs. ie; Favalli is Milan team's plumber.

Anyways, Marco Borriello should definetly start, but I think the substitute focus should be Filippo Inzaghi, not Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Inzaghi's goal against Novara was simply amazing. Not even Messi does that. He dribbled past a defender twice, even considering his age, and he lobbed the ball for the goal. Unbelievable. Inzaghi is a predator striker and for now wonder is he European competition's historic top scorer. I think he will have more impact on the game and probably score a goal if things go bad for Milan.

In this game, Seedorf should start if fit, but if not Gattuso should over Flamini for defensive purposes.

Posted by giancarlo on 01/22/2010

very simple inter 2 milan 0. inter has more firepower and a better defense. look at the stats

Posted by D on 01/22/2010

Think the plan has been low risk/high reward the past few seasons. 'Dinho- if he washes up pple were already sayn he's past his prime at Barcelona. Flamini(free transfer), Onyewu, Silva, Hunt, Becks, even Adiyiah- all of these players if they fail there is some statement to the affect: oh he was too old, too young (Adiyiah), american couldn't take to the Italian game, didn't cost us much. But if they succeed...geniuses.
and I'm ok with that. 100% in support of not going Real or ManU's route. $ doesn't buy the title. But I do think there's a time to spend it. Marco is in great form, but is he that far removed from last year's debacle to be convinced he's set at CF?
I do think spending $ on a player at 25 or under is worth it (think Dzeko at 23) that will give years of positive returns. Who thinks Torres (25) isn't a better option than Marco (28)?
Don't get me wrong I do think Marco is a good forward (heck I use him in FIFA09 UT). Just suggestn we stay open.
Now the midfield ...

Posted by Marcos on 01/22/2010

Great work, Mr.Bonetti

Posted by Milan 1963 on 01/22/2010

Dear Matteo,
Great article as usual. I believe we can win without Pato even though it would be better having him on the pitch but I would really be worried if Nesta can not make it because I don't see who could replace him and give our defense this sense of security that he has been giving. My other worry is Gattuso who looks more and more like a toothless puppy and I have the feeling that Leo is kind of forced to play him while Flamini or even Jankulovski would probably be better. Anyway fingers crossed and let's hope for a great performance and the win.

Posted by ogo uwajeh on 01/22/2010

I just read your article; Firing Blanks- a Tale of the Slowest Team in Football which was written sometime in September. It's amazing that some folks who commented on the article even mentioned the "R"word (Relegation) when referring to Milan. If Milan beat Inter (which is quite possible) and win their outstanding game they will be level with Inter at the top of Serie A. And to put the icing on the cake Milan could very well send Man Utd packing from the Champions League (Man Utd is certainly not the same team without C. ronaldo and Tervez). Boy what a difference a couple of months can make in football.

Posted by Mark Azih on 01/22/2010

It will be a very difficult game for AC Milan, as any mistake will cost them far more than would be the case for Inter. To go level on points would require winning the derby plus the game in hand, a tall order for even a resurgent Milan side. Yet only a victory for Milan would be considered as news, considering Inter's vice-like grip on the Scuddetto. Can't wait for Sunday for the answers to these questions, I bet?

Posted by Mukhtar Mohammed on 01/23/2010

My heart goes for AC, but my mind says CAUTION!

Posted by Brundinho on 01/23/2010

My stomach is already in knots waiting for this game. FORZA MILAN! FORZA ROSSONERI!

Posted by Inno on 01/23/2010

Ronaldinho is one can predict the result!!

Posted by Barcafan on 01/23/2010

Barcelona HAVE faced Inter twice this season. First game Barca dominated but was a 0-0 draw, second game Barcelona completely owned Inter (without Messi, Ibrahimovic and Toure) even though it was only a 2-0 victory, 70% possession or something.
Anyway, if Barcelona could boss around Inter that badly with a technical passing game and skillful forwards, Pirlo and Ronaldinho have enough passing and Ronnie and the forwards have enough skill to catch Inter out with a good gameplan. Inter's strength is their amazing defence which few players have the skill to beat outright, but Ronaldinho etc do, so that along with form makes me think Milan can win.
Never write off Mourinho and Inter though, especially with Sneijder playing. Can't wait for the game!!!

Posted by Anonymous on 01/24/2010

I like the write for his optimism about Milan beating Inter, but one thing he should have be careful about to say was Milans position in the transfer market? Milan doesnt have money to spend and they have spent some good fortune in the past that went awry!. Also, dont take Inter for granted because Mou has surprises in his sleeves and he is capable of hurting Milan if things dont work right in the match. I think I will prefer to be cautious till the end of 90 minutes of good football I presume.

Posted by Sam on 01/24/2010

Boy what a game! Could have gone either way! One things for sure, without Nesta Milans defence looks awful. Think that was the big difference on the night. Inter looked solid at the back even with a man less (although Milan and Boriello in particular had their fair share) while the young Milan defense and past it Favalli looked terrified of Milito in particular.
Milan to me look like a team still in progress though. You need a quality striker who doesnt need ten chances and some younger midfielders with some legs. Inter on the other hand looked good just need some discipline and a replacement for Muntari! Say Milan wouldnt want a midfielder who cant pass, tackle, who is slow and always looks like he will get sent off do they? : )

Posted by Tom on 01/25/2010

With regards to Milan's scouting, Pato wasn't exactly cheap. I believed they paid 19 million euro for him, pimples and all. They didn't exactly pluck him from obscurity. That being said, they do need to bring in some new players, groom them, and eventually let them play. Nesta can only play for so long, and there is no young cover for him. The fullbacks are pretty poor, as Antonini can't really be depended on and Abate is weak tracking back. This shouldn't come as a surprise, as Leonardo is Brazilian, and Brazilian fullbacks are more like wide midfielders in practice. Still, Milan haven't been cheap, except for this past summer. There are a few reasons. First, their last big investments have been failures (Flamini and Huntelaar), so they may be a bit snake-bitten. Second, every club has gone cheap with the global recession (except Madrid, who are insane). As for Ronaldinho, he is fainally playing like an international class athlete, but he is 1/3 the player he was at Barcelona.

Posted by Lorenzo on 01/26/2010

in hindsight... nothing has changed, just like before the last derby milan is slightly better then everybody else but still far from england. i'm going to go out on a limb and say milan go on another slump...by the way we both know that milan transfer spending has been cheap because berlusca can't look like he's spending money on milan during credit crunch etc. well he can't spend money sensibily anyway... resigning gattuso, "il cacciatore"

Posted by punditguy on 01/26/2010

What a derby! Say what you want Milan NEEDS a big imposing consistent striker! And you all know who i am talking about! There was a point in time where we were so close to De Silvestre....what happened to that?!?!? I was really looking forward to that signing.

Players i would like to see in Milan at summer's transfer....Dzeko, Krasic, Hernanes, De Silvestre!

Players i would like to see leave....Jankoluvski, Favalli, Zambrotta, Kaladze, Gattuso, Dida,

Posted by nathan3e on 01/26/2010

Now Leonardo is the wily young tactician we were hoping to see, the Brazilian version of Pep Guardiola......

No hyperbole there. One coach wins every trophy available, the other loses both derbies by a combined score of 6-0.

Posted by kikus on 06/15/2010

как всегда на высоте

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About
Matteo Bonetti Born and raised just a few kilometers away from The San Siro, Matteo Bonetti has been watching the Rossoneri ever since childhood. The passion was instilled by a family whose fanaticism for the team dates back to the early 1900's. Instead of bursting with an obscenity laden tirade, or turning any object around him into a projectile weapon after a disappointing Milan outing, Matteo can now channel his emotions into a more effective, and most importantly: safe, manner - writing on a global platform. He is a young journalist whose grandfather was the Vice President of Milan nearly four decades ago. E-mail him: themilanguy@gmail.com, and follow him on twitter: @TheMilanGuy

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