Il Diavolo was able to obtain an impressive result in the league after beating Roma 2-1 courtesy of a Ronaldinho penalty and an Alexandre Pato winner. The significance of the match extends beyond the three points to encompass a number of factors. The victory has a number of ramifications ranging from the boost in morale to the fact Coach Leonardo has ensured his survival with the Rossoneri for another fortnight following this much-needed result against a decent Roma side, albeit one that sorely missed the services of talisman Francesco Totti.
Totti’s absence cannot be underestimated when considering his valuable contribution and his crucial role in the Giallorossi’s setup. Such an absence cannot be used to take away anything from the Rossoneri since teams are bound to miss their star players at a certain point of the season and it is up to the opposing team to capitalise on such misfortune. Milan was able to come from behind to claim victory against an improved side which has achieved respectable results since Coach Claudio Ranieri took charge. This does not serve as a barometer for the tifosi to gauge how far their beloved club has improved, given that one match cannot define a whole season. The same can be said of the important win against French team Marseille in the Champions League, which was then followed by a traumatising home loss to FC Zürich.
The triumph against Roma served as a character test for the much maligned Milan players, who were able to rebound from i Lupi’s early strike to secure all three points. The victory serves as a major psychological boost as Dutchman Clarence Seedorf later admitted to acmilan.com. The win provides a proper preparation in lieu of the upcoming away clash with Real Madrid and its stars, including former Milan hero Kaká. Los Galácticos may not be the perfect example when considering team cohesion, unity and understanding, yet the Madrid outfit boasts quality players in almost every position from Raúl and Frenchman Karim Benzema up-front, Brazilian Kaká and Xabi Alonso in midfield as well as custodian Iker Casillas. The clash will serve as a stern test for the Brazilian Coach and his charges who are expected to give their best to at least secure a point prior to the return game in San Siro. Realistically, it is quite difficult for Milan to emerge victorious at the Santiago Bernabéu, despite Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence due to injury.
It will be interesting to see how Brazilian striker Pato responds to having finally scored following a goal drought stretching back to the first round of league action when he bagged a brace against Siena. His compatriot Ronaldinho is continuing his improvement following the calamitous start to the season, which has been defined by a series of rumours and an extended list of critics, all of which could have devastated the underperforming forward. At this stage, it seems as though the Brazilian has handled the deserved criticism well but he must be careful to acknowledge that his lifestyle, training habits and dedication will continue to be under scrutiny until he is able to put in a string of convincing performances.
The match with Roma also confirmed defender Alessandro Nesta’s impressive return to form after years blighted with injuries. The centre-back is renowned for his elegance, talent and alertness as well as his reading of the game and anticipation of the opponent’s next move. Nesta’s fine form has given rise to voices calling for his return to la Nazionale under Coach Marcello Lippi’s guidance. The former Lazio star will certainly increase the Azzurri’s chances in South Africa if he continues to perform at this level. His impeccable control, decisive tackling and great awareness are desirable qualities. Nesta has been solid and is rarely making a mistake while his assured performances are beginning to rub off on his fellow teammates. In the last few editions of this segment, Nesta’s critical role as a leader and a consistent performer have been highlighted as one of the catalysts that can be used to reinvigorate the stuttering Rossoneri.
Coach Leonardo must be feeling blessed to have Nesta on his roster since the Italian defender can be considered as a ‘new signing’ this season following the injuries which held him back the past couple of years. The Brazilian will be looking to Nesta as well as Pato, Ronaldinho and veterans Seedorf and Filippo Inzaghi to lead the line in Madrid. Leonardo must realise motivating his players to put together a decent run will make or break Milan’s season.
Milan Club Focus 2009/10
Pre-season expectation – August 18, 2009
Leonardo breathes as Brazilians relieve pressure – August 25, 2009
Kaka returns to the San Siro – August 27, 2009
How to play 4-3-1-2, a lesson from their rivals – September 1, 2009
Reshuffle the current squad, regain the winning mentality – September 4, 2009
International week (Georgia-Italy, Italy-Bulgaria)
Leonardo’s time to react – September 7, 2009
Livorno springs opportunity to end crisis – September 11, 2009
Serie A slides down priority list – September 15, 2009
Leonardo lurches into decision-making territory – September 18, 2009
Off the pitch rumours continue to swirl – September 22, 2009
Old legs cannot win forever, will Berlusconi follow in Della Valle’s footsteps? – September 25, 2009
A powerhouse that no longer strikes fear – September 29, 2009
Time is running out to save il Diavolo’s season – October 2, 2009
A draw as bitter as a defeat – October 6, 2009
The club is not for sale – October 9, 2009
International week (Republic of Ireland-Italy, Italy-Cyprus)
In search of strikers and defenders – October 13, 2009
Berlusconi reiterates he will not sell as the Rossoneri prepare for Roma – October 16, 2009
Brazilian duo see off Roma – October 20, 2009