It is too early to hand over the Scudetto to Milan but the Rossoneri continue to gather points at a steady pace after dispensing of lowly Brescia with a comfortable 3-0 win. Goalkeeper Christian Abbiati performed a remarkable save from Andrea Caracciolo’s fine attempt when the score was still 1-0, but the custodian turned a mere spectator as the Rossoneri wasted a few scoring opportunities to pile further misery on the visitors.
Since the disappointing home defeat to Juventus, Milan have accumulated 16 out of a possible 18 points, winning five matches and settling for a draw in Genoa against a solid Sampdoria side. Results have so far been quite balanced as the two defeats came against third place Juventus and lowly Cesena. The defeat to Cesena was early in the season when Milan were in the midst of incorporating new faces. Il Diavolo have failed to win maximum points in three other fixtures, including draws against Lazio and Catania. In Catania’s case it was early in the season and the Rossoneri’s summer signings were in the process of getting familiar with their teammates under new Coach Massimiliano Allegri who took over from Leonardo in the summer.
With more than half the season remaining, it would be a miscalculated venture to claim the Rossoneri will win the league title as Lazio are just three points away while Juventus are a further three points behind. Even champions Inter have the opportunity to catch up despite being 10 points behind. Last season, both Milan and Roma staged impressive runs at certain parts of the season to cut Inter’s lead with the Giallorossi failing at the last hurdle to overcome the Nerazzurri for the Scudetto. Having made the point about the remaining schedule and the ability of teams to run the table to overcome Milan, it must be said the Rossoneri’s path to wrestling the title away from their neighbors Inter is looking more likely with every passing round.
Critics keep bringing up the reliance on Zlatan Ibrahimović yet those same critics fail to acknowledge that the star was signed to revive Milan’s fortunes and help them overcome the Nerazzurri. The Sweden international proved himself while with Inter and led them to a number of titles raising questions about the Nerazzurri’s dependence on his skill. Ibrahimović will flourish as long as he is the focal point of the attack as shown during his spell with Inter and the current season, while he did not meet expectations with Barcelona because there were a number of other key players on the offensive end. Despite not being the focal point at Barça, he managed to score the winner against Real Madrid and found the back of the net 16 times in La Liga. This by no means qualifies as a failure but was perhaps belittled since his transfer involved a huge sum of cash as well as striker Samuel Eto’o. Regardless of all arguments, the Rossoneri will not suffer if he remains the fulcrum of the attack as long as he is both fit and injury-free.
Allegri deserves credit for his handling of the squad despite his failure to get the best out of Ronaldinho. It might be time for the Brazilian maestro to leave Milanello as his form, his physical condition and partying habits have taken their toll on his unquestionable talent. Allegri has gone public declaring Ronaldinho will only play if he works hard and takes training more seriously. This was perhaps the clearest indication yet that the Brazilian is no longer indispensible and that Allegri, unlike Leonardo, will not hesitate to chop Ronaldinho if he is underperforming. The presence of Ibra and Robinho certainly helps Allegri in his decision as those two options were unavailable at the time Leonardo was in charge. A January departure for Ronaldinho is looking more likely, which could see Milan move for Italian enigma Antonio Cassano, who is surely on his way out of Genoa after the fallout with his club Sampdoria.
Bringing in Cassano might not be ideal for a couple of reasons. The troubled forward has shown time and again that he is a ticking time-bomb waiting to explode and Milan cannot afford to take such a risk at the latter stages of the season when the Scudetto could be on the line. In addition, Cassano is more of a creative force than a scorer and Milan have in Ibrahimović a player who can both create and score. Il Diavolo would be better off signing a goal scorer in the absence of the injured Filippo Inzaghi and Alexandre Pato.