The Rossoneri continued their less than satisfactory week as the players failed to register a win in three games after drawing 1-1 with Livorno. Milan are now eight points behind league leaders Inter who did not play this weekend. The league title is slipping away gradually but at a steady pace given the club’s less than convincing performances of late. The main concern for Coach Leonardo will be getting back to winning ways as well as fending off the assault by Roma, who are now tied on points with il Diavolo but have played one more match.
The Livorno encounter signals Christian Abbiati will probably finish the rest of the season as Milan’s number one option between the posts barring any injury or dip in form. Abbiati returned in the mid-week defeat to Udinese and retained his starting spot ahead of Dida, who pulled out with a back injury. Leonardo has made great use of his compatriot, who surpassed all expectations by performing consistently enough and limiting his howlers to merit the starting role until the return of Abbiati to full fitness.
Alessandro Nesta remains out of the line-up due to injury and he was replaced once again by veteran Giuseppe Favalli. The absence of Nesta seems to leave a gap in defense but also take away some of the build-up play from the backline given Nesta’s ability to pass the ball after retrieving it. The Brazilian Coach must be praying for Nesta’s return as Favalli was partially to blame for Livorno’s goal due to his erratic clearance.
Despite rumours in recent weeks about Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s departure and Mathieu Flamini’s potential move back to the Premiership, both players insisted they are happy at Milanello. Flamini had a decent game, particularly in the first-half, while the struggling Huntelaar was confined to his customary bench role. His second-half appearance was marred by a number of missed opportunities as he appeared visibly short on confidence and lacked the scoring touch. Huntelaar will only become more useful if he gets more opportunities to play. He must be wondering how the likes of Marco Borriello and Ronaldinho were afforded ample time to regain their form yet he is not afforded a chance to start. This will obviously affect Huntelaar’s morale and if the situation does not change before June then he is likely to request a move or be offloaded before the start of next season. Borriello did suffer an injury during the match but it is too early to tell whether it is serious, and if Huntelaar will have an opportunity to stake a claim in the Italian’s absence.
Clarence Seedorf has refused to give up on the Scudetto following the defeat to Inter and the draw with Livorno. He insists the players must put the 2-0 loss to the Nerazzurri behind them. The Dutchman’s optimism should not be overlooked as he has enough experience to be able to judge certain situations. Nevertheless, concessions must be made. Inter have a sizable gap and are playing efficiently as they brushed aside the Rossoneri and overcame the struggling Juventus in the Coppa Italia. With Portuguese Coach Jose Mourinho at the helm it is unlikely they will yield the league title after establishing their superiority over Milan.
The Rossoneri ought to focus on the Champions League because on a given night they can overcome elite opposition. The best example was the clash with Real Madrid when il Diavolo succeeded in returning with all three points from Spain. For Milan to be able to compete they will need a healthy Nesta and Alexandre Pato. Without the influential duo, Leonardo’s charges will struggle to score and keep opponents at bay as Inter proved during the derby.
Leo will now be looking to regroup ahead of the next game against Bologna. This will be quite a crucial one considering the Rossoneri need to win in order to regain confidence but also put some distance between them and the emerging Giallorossi. Roma are lurking behind and waiting for any mistake in order to take over the second spot. Leonardo will be able to rely on new signing Amantino Mancini, who has joined the club for the remainder of the season on a loan from Inter. Mancini has failed to impress since joining the Nerazzurri but Leonardo will be hoping the player rediscovers his Roma form which made him a desirable commodity for a number of big sides. Mancini joins a sizeable Brazilian contingent at Milanello which lost Kaká’s brother Digão who joined Serie B side Crotone on a season-long loan.
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
Rossoneri record famous win in Madrid – October 23, 2009
Leonardo stumbles upon the 4-2-3-1 – October 27, 2009
Two precious points dropped – October 30, 2009
Borriello strikes twice as Milan continue climbing the table – November 3, 2009
A bitter draw after Pato’s disallowed ‘goal’ as Huntelaar emerges unscathed – November 6, 2009
The Rossoneri challenging Juventus for second place – November 10, 2009
International week (Italy-Holland, Italy-Sweden)
Crucial stretch begins as Dzeko linked again – November 20, 2009
Rossoneri continue impressive run – November 24, 2009
Missed opportunity to qualify – November 27, 2009
Huntelaar breaks his duck with a late double to lift Mila to second – December 1, 2009
Season-defining week looms ahead – December 4, 2009
Sunshine glimmers from the San Siro, but those clouds won’t leave – December 8, 2009
Qualification secured after a scare – December 11, 2009
Gattuso to help the aged a little longer – December 14, 2009
Staying away from the market – December 18, 2009
Winter break starts early – December 22, 2009
Beckham lands in town – December 29, 2009
Giants on the transfer horizon – January 5, 2010
Beckham makes second Milan debut – January 8, 2010
Ronnie puts the breaks on in Turin – January 12, 2010
Weakened Rossoneri scrape by Novara – January 15, 2010
Ronaldinho is enjoying playing again and soaking in the love – January 19, 2010
Milan derby looms large – January 22, 2010
Inefficient Rossoneri surrender to Inter’s title assault – January 26, 2010
Coppa Italia defeat reveals once again the lack of depth – January 29, 2010
Mancini joins from Inter – February 2, 2010