Club Focus – Milan – Ronaldinho is enjoying playing again and soaking in the love

Ronaldinho is back and there is no doubt about it as he continued his torrid scoring run with a remarkable hat-trick against Siena.

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Scoring three goals in one match is an achievement but the Brazilian star chose to take things a step further by scoring each goal using a different approach. The first came from the penalty spot, the second from a header and the third from a great individual move capped by a vicious long-range shot. The former Barcelona star put in a display reminiscent of his heyday when dribbling past a couple of players was the least expected the moment he stepped on the field. The Brazilian ace has completed his resurgence but more significantly he has propelled Milan within shooting distance of city and title rivals Inter. The Nerazzurri’s once sizable lead has now been whittled down to six points with the Milan derby looming ahead. To make things even more interesting the Rossoneri have a game in hand which means victory next weekend will give them the opportunity to tie the Nerazzurri if the postponed game is won as well.

Ronaldinho deserves much of the plaudits and so does Coach Leonardo for sticking with the once controversial player who was being referred to as a ‘has-been’ early in the season when his partying habits were making the news instead of his contributions to the Rossoneri cause. The playmaker was reportedly close to heading back to Brazil and even more shockingly was rumoured to be pondering retirement. These claims now seem like a distant memory from the past and it is hard to believe the star was on the verge of breaking down. The Coach’s faith in Ronaldinho and the player’s own commitment have led to this remarkable rebirth. The player will now be able to focus on securing a spot in the Brazilian squad headed to South Africa 2010.

Leonardo and his star player deserve much credit for Milan’s revival but there are a few other heroes at Milanello without whom the climb up the table would have been rather impossible. To start with, the defensive partnership between Alessandro Nesta and Thiago Silva has been an absolute rock at the back to the extent the Rossoneri are currently tied with the Nerazzurri, Fiorentina and Bari for the best defensive record with 19 goals conceded. Nesta has been particularly impressive as he has completely recovered from the injury which sidelined him for all but 13 minutes of last season. The former Azzurri star is once again displaying his astute leadership at the back and playing with such confidence forcing the Italian Press to clamor for his recall to shore up la Nazionale’s defence. Marcello Lippi could certainly do with a rejuvenated Nesta given Fabio Cannavaro’s inconsistent form this season.

His partner Thiago Silva has not only settled well at the San Siro but also excelled often compensating when Nesta was out injured or rested. The Brazilian centre-back has to rank as one of the best captures made by an Italian side during the past year. One other player noteworthy of praise for his hard work and commitment is striker Marco Borriello who has certainly played his way into Lippi’s plans provided he continues with his current scoring binge. Borriello chipped in with a delightful goal in the 4-0 rout against Siena but more importantly he has finally recovered from the injury which threatened to cut short his career. The Italian striker was behind the penalty-kick converted by Ronaldinho as he was chopped down by Siena’s goalkeeper Gianluca Curci forcing the ref to brandish a red card to the offending Curci. Sending-off the visiting custodian might have been a harsh decision but the penalty decision was correct and did change the complexion of the game in Milan’s favour.

How ironic is it to have three players who were basically written off turn out to be your team’s most vital contributors? As much credit as Adriano Galliani and Co will take for their faith in Leonardo at the start of the campaign, the plaudits for the Coach’s faith in some of his underachievers is all the more admirable, particularly in Borriello. He could have persisted with Filippo Inzaghi after his brace gave Milan the much needed win in Marseille or chosen Klaas-Jan Huntelaar after his injury-time double against Catania yet Leonardo often reverted back to his first-choice striker when available and fit. The story of Nesta, Ronaldinho and Borriello could each provide enough ammunition to write a book but in the case of Milan the perfect ending will be if the three can lead the side to the coveted Scudetto.

Milan Club Focus 2009/10

Pre-season


Pre-season expectation
– August 18, 2009

Week 1


Leonardo breathes as Brazilians relieve pressure
– August 25, 2009

Week 2


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

Week 3


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

Week 4


Off the pitch rumours continue to swirl
– September 22, 2009

Week 5


Old legs cannot win forever, will Berlusconi follow in Della Valle’s footsteps?
– September 25, 2009

Week 6


A powerhouse that no longer strikes fear
– September 29, 2009

Week 7


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

Week 8


Berlusconi reiterates he will not sell as the Rossoneri prepare for Roma
– October 16, 2009


Brazilian duo see off Roma
– October 20, 2009

Week 9


Rossoneri record famous win in Madrid
– October 23, 2009


Leonardo stumbles upon the 4-2-3-1
– October 27, 2009

Week 10


Two precious points dropped
– October 30, 2009

Week 11


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

Week 12


The Rossoneri challenging Juventus for second place
– November 10, 2009

International week (Italy-Holland, Italy-Sweden)

Week 13


Crucial stretch begins as Dzeko linked again
– November 20, 2009


Rossoneri continue impressive run
– November 24, 2009

Week 14


Missed opportunity to qualify
– November 27, 2009


Huntelaar breaks his duck with a late double to lift Mila to second
– December 1, 2009

Week 15


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

Week 16


Gattuso to help the aged a little longer
– December 14, 2009

Week 17


Staying away from the market
– December 18, 2009


Winter break starts early
– December 22, 2009

Winter break


Beckham lands in town
– December 29, 2009


Giants on the transfer horizon
– January 5, 2010

Week 18


Beckham makes second Milan debut
– January 8, 2010

Week 19


Ronnie puts the breaks on in Turin
– January 12, 2010


Weakened Rossoneri scrape by Novara
– January 15, 2010

Week 20


Ronaldinho is enjoying playing again and soaking in the love
– January 19, 2010

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