There is a rather eerie sense of change approaching the club. Players we once thought were indispensable are suddenly being shopped around to the highest bidder. Unexpected superstars being linked with the Rossoneri, and all this taking place a few days before the most important match in Italy. It is almost enough to drive a sane man into a spiralling state of lunacy.
It is the day a city becomes divided by two fervent, rival sides. Black bleeds with either red or blue this weekend. Palpitations grow rapid before the match, and you better believe a few seemingly ordinary household objects will be turned into high speed projectiles, obliterating anything in their wake throughout the course of the match. Needless to say, I lose a few years of life every derby. It is a brutal exercise for my heart, which is ill-equipped to handle such a potentially traumatic event. The derby is not even an enjoyable experience for me - there is too much anxiety involved, even if we're up by a handful of goals. Too much at stake.
In light of the first Derby Della Madonnina of the season, it is important to do a little preview while also reviewing the last game versus Atalanta. I'll skip the token humour because there are plenty of serious subjects to address. Moving on..
- As much as I loathe saying it, the entire tide of the Milan vs. Atalanta match changed as soon as Pato was taken off for Robinho. The polarizing Robinho certainly does have his faults, but one has to wonder if he is a better fit alongside Ibrahimovic (at the moment). Simply put, the toothpick thin Robinho creates a bit more chaos in the box, and seems to better complement the skill set of Ibrahimovic. You can make all the excuses you'd like for Pato, and trust me I've heard them all, but the fact of the matter is I don't see the fire anymore. More on that later in the segment.
- Abate has become fundamental in the Milan formation, and shows how far he has come from being a goofy winger at Torino, to a competent full back on a team in the Champions League. His runs down the flank were replaced by the static Bonera, who might as well have skipped the match and placed a traffic cone at full back.
- Milan fans are split down the middle on the up & coming superstar who never truly 'upped & came'. I'll say it now: dating Barbara was an absolute catastrophe for his career. Hear me out on this one: He was thrust into a world that wasn't truly his. From a middle class surrounding in Brazil, to a low key marriage in Milan which only lasted a year, to suddenly feeling untouchable as he dates the daughter of the most powerful man in Italy, and as a result ends up on every tabloid. Somewhere down the line (and not counting his lingering injuries which have kept him from forming any semblance of continuity) Pato lost his hunger. He now feels untouchable, and rightfully so. Why do you think he lashed out at Allegri last week in the papers? Would he have EVER done that had he still been with his ex-wife? The young Brazilian now feels a sense of superiority, knowing that at the end of the day the woman indirectly responsible for paying his checks is also the one he falls asleep with at night. Where has the fire gone? His play this season (apart from the brilliant goal vs. Barcelona) has been lackadaisical.
Pato has appeared more on tabloids than the pitch recently
- Barbara said to the media that no player is untouchable, including her boyfriend. (not counting other types of touches, of course). And soon after, the hoard of traitor L3-0 came knocking on the door as Paris St. Germain made their formal €28 million bid to Milan. While this deal certainly will not be accepted by the Rossoneri, as it has been deemed as too low of a price tag, it sets the foundation for what is sure to be a long, winding series of negotiations between the two clubs.
Derby Della Madonnina:
- How I miss the days of looking at the league table and seeing Inter in an intense battle for salvation against the likes of Lecce and Cesena. The days when Real Novara taught footballing lessons to the Nerazzurri, and unknown midfielders such as Marco Rigoni etched their mark on the pantheon of all-time great performances. Unfortunately, injuries have subsided for the most part and Inter are in the best form of the season, conveniently enough before the most heated derby in the country. Milan, on the other side, has achieved results despite their mediocre play. Six points against Atalanta & Cagliari have been overshadowed by dubious performances, especially in replicating the beautiful football they are most certainly capable of playing, and have sometimes shown in stretches throughout the course of the season.
- The major question is who will line up opposite of Ibrahimovic. Neither Pato nor Robinho seems to want to retain that role permanently, as the two young Brazilians have both had their various problems. Pato has scored only one goal in the Serie A this season, while Robinho has turned his open chances into projectiles capable of decapitating a fan in the upper row of the curva sud.
- Inter have made their official offer of €25 million to Manchester City for Tevez, which further makes the match this weekend intriguing as the two sides desperately fight for the mercurial Argentinian. Although the player has said he only wants Milan, it is apparent that Manchester City will want to recuperate as much as they can of the €40m+ spent for him a few years ago.
UPDATE: Tevez talks fall apart as Pato retains desire to stay with Milan.
- The Corriere dello Sport reports that Milan will wait until the summer to sign Lecce left back Djamel Mesbah for free. He would be a (obviously) low risk signing, and could compete for the starting position with the disappointing Taiwo, and the immortal Antonini.
My Final Thoughts:
- Balotelli. As most of you already know, the Italian striker has made it clear that he would only leave England for Italy, and the only club in Italy he'd most likely join is the one he supported as a youngster: our Rossoneri. A gut feeling I hope will come to fruition.
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