The next five matches could make or break Milan’s season as the club will embark on a grueling run both in Serie A and the Champions League. Besides having to face Real Madrid twice in Europe, the Rossoneri will have to play Napoli and Juventus in Serie A. This adds impetus to the weekend clash with Chievo since the encounter will serve as both a preparation for the upcoming fixtures and a test to the Rossoneri’s abilities.
Without delving too deep into the tactics and the players used, it must be said Coach Massimiliano Allegri has yet to leave his mark on the squad, which is something that might never happen given the star studded line-up. The Coach will take a back seat in terms of media focus and attention considering the high profile names added to the squad. Allegri has not brought anything new since the departure of previous Coach Leonardo and is benefitting from the summer additions of Kevin-Prince Boateng and Zlatan Ibrahimović. Robinho, another summer signing, has yet to fire on all cylinders and the Seleção star might find it difficult to settle down in the peninsula considering his track record of struggling to conform with life outside of his country Brazil.
Ibrahimović has made the transition back to Serie A seamless, but this should have been expected considering he was only away for a single season with Barcelona and his best years were the last two prior to his move from Inter. The addition of the talented Swede has single-handedly transformed the Rossoneri into title contenders and brought along comparisons with the title-winning Nerazzurri sides which relied heavily on his skills. Allegri will be desperate to avoid the tag of being over dependent on the big striker and his cause could be aided by the return of young star Alexandre Pato, who showed with Brazil that he has not lost his scoring touch despite the time on the sidelines. Pato’s return should be the catalyst to help fire up the Rossoneri and the upcoming stretch of critical games could serve as the litmus test as to whether the young Brazilian can co-exist with the temperamental Swedish star.
One team who will not be too excited about seeing Pato is Real Madrid after the striker tormented their defensive line in their dual from the last season’s Champions League. Allegri will start Pato against Chievo in order to give him more playing time ahead of the tough matches, but could opt to rest Ibrahimović since the Sweden striker has revealed he played the last couple of matches with little training due to a groin problem. Risking Ibra could backfire ahead of the matches against los Galácticos and Juventus but he did play midweek and emerged unscathed, proving he is recovering well.
On the injury front the news has been positive for Milan as goalkeeper Christian Abbiati will be able to resume his role between the posts and skipper Massimo Ambrosini is back in training but will likely have to wait before starting another match. In his absence, midfielder Boateng should be in the starting line-up and will endeavour to work hard and impress the Coach in order to keep a place on the team’s first XI. One player who will probably feel at a disadvantage from the shrinking injury list is Robinho as his spot will automatically go to Pato, who is a more prolific scorer. The next few matches will affect the club’s season prior to the January transfer window since there are several whispers regarding the status of Ronaldinho and the possibility of a shock return for former icon Kaká. Ronaldinho’s departure seems unlikely and rumours have often plagued the Brazilian playmaker whenever he is not at his best, but he had a similar start last season before he masterminded the Rossoneri’s surge up the standings.
As for Real Madrid’s Kaká, his return is quite farfetched since il Diavolo have probably learned from their previous experience of bringing back a star, as shown in the case of another club hero Andriy Shevchenko. The Ukrainian legend had a phenomenal scoring record with the Rossoneri prior to joining Chelsea and then had a second spell with Milan on loan. His return to San Siro proved to be a disaster as he was mostly used as a substitute and failed to score in 18 league matches. It would be a mistake for Milan to even contemplate the return of Kaká, whether on a professional or sentimental level. Il Diavolo do not need more attacking players given the presence of Ronaldinho and Robinho.