Milan snatched all three points in an exhilarating encounter with Cagliari to remain within touching distance of second-place Juventus and a point ahead of Sampdoria, which climbed to fourth place. Milan relied on the usual protagonists of Clarence Seedorf and Alexandre Pato to claim victory in a seven-goal thriller at the San Siro. The two stars mentioned above along with the reinvigorated Ronaldinho and the injury prone Marco Borriello was responsible for the four goals.
The solid improvement in Ronaldinho’s performances and Pato’s goal scoring exploits have helped Coach Leonardo steady the ship after a rocky start to the season. Besides the positive from gathering full points in an entertaining game, the match served as another reminder of how valuable Alessandro Nesta is to the Rossoneri cause. No word can describe the worth of the No.13 as Cagliari easily shredded the defensive line time and again to register three goals and waste a couple of other opportunities. Credit must be given to the much maligned goalkeeper Dida, whose saves throughout the match enabled Milan to come out on top as he performed admirably, in particular during the first period to keep Cagliari’s players at bay. The same cannot be said about Massimo Oddo, Kakha Kaladze, Gianluca Zambrotta and Thiago Silva. The first three defenders were disappointing and Kaladze’s career seems to be continuing in a downward trend since his return from injury this season. The Georgian captain looked out of sorts and was overwhelmed by the opposition attacks. Unfortunately his season will likely be defined by the odd own-goal double he scored for the Azzurri during a World Cup qualifier held in Georgia.
Even Brazilian Thiago Silva had a rather shaky performance at the back against the Rossoblu as he struggled without the assured presence of Nesta. The suspended Italian offers the side something extra in terms of reliability and quality which no other defender on Milan’s roster can provide. Fortunately for the Rossoneri, the elegant centre-back will return to face Marseille in the crucial Champions League clash. Conversely, striker Borriello, who scored Milan’s second goal over the weekend, will probably miss out due to injury to his left knee.
This will give veteran goal poacher Filippo Inzaghi the opportunity to start against the team he tormented during the first leg. Inzaghi scored a brace in the 2-1 win in Marseille and will likely get the nod ahead of seldom used striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Other potential absentees for the Rossoneri may include midfield duo Mathieu Flamini and Gennaro Gattuso. Based on the strategy currently employed by Leonardo, their absence will probably not be detrimental, unlike Borriello’s since he provides the perfect foil for the nimble touches of the electrifying Pato.
The January transfer window may serve as the initial step in revamping the Rossoneri defense with Schalke’s Rafinha and Real Madrid’s Royston Drenthe being linked on more than one occasion with a transfer to Milan. The Brazilian right-back, who has been on the radar of a couple of other elite sides in Italy and Europe, will certainly be a welcome addition to Leonardo’s squad as he will solve one of the team’s glaring problem areas. Rafinha offers defensive safety as well as the ability to put in decent crosses for the forwards to score. He is not on the same level as compatriot Maicon, yet Brazilian full-backs are renowned for their endless running and offensive contributions. The other potential signing is the left-footed Dutchman Drenthe, who can operate either as a full-back or a winger. Drenthe’s opportunities with los Galácticos keep dwindling and the Madrid side is looking to offload the player in order to trim down the roster following the heavy summer investment which brought the likes of former il Diavolo icon Kaká.
Away from the pitch, one topic gathering a rather large following has been Inter’s Mario Balotelli, who is at the centre of controversy amongst the Nerazzurri ranks following the reported self-declaration that he is a Milanista. The two sides which share the Giuseppe Meazza are often at odds and spar to wrestle away control of Serie A from one another, so his statement caused reverberations, forcing the attention-craving Inter Coach José Mourinho to dismiss the young forward as immature. The internet featured a few polls, which showed the majority of the tifosi would support Milan’s capture of the Italy U-21 forward. The supporters feel he can form a great tandem with Pato. While the fans dream of new big-name signings, Leonardo aims to put away Marseille to remain on course in Europe.
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