It’s been a topsy-turvy week at the San Siro. Injury concerns ahead of the game with Siena were boosted with the availability of key players David Beckham, Kaka and Ronaldinho, only to be tempered with further additions to the casualty list with the loss of Christian Abbiati and a fresh injury for Kaka. However, five goals in an scintillating performance and landmark career goals for veteran striker, Filippo Inzaghi surely softened the blow.
More speculation surrounding the future of Coach Carlo Ancelotti surfaced again this week with reports linking him to Spanish Galacticos, Real Madrid. Ahead of the Spanish club’s presidential election on July 5, former Madrid President Florentino Perez is drawing up a list of star names and the Milan Tactician is expected to be his number one target in the summer. Perez has long since been an admirer of the former Juventus Coach who could be persuaded in taking up the role at the Bernabeu alongside Zinedine Zidane, a former player of his with whom he shares a close friendship.
It seems ever more likely that Ancelotti will be prompted into a move away from the San Siro in the summer after a disappointing season with Milan despite the quality of players at his disposal. One of the problems for the Rossoneri Coach is that he maybe has too many options open to him and his judgement has had a detrimental effect on the balance of the team. His persistence to play both Kaka and Ronaldinho proved fruitless, although the injuries that have plagued his squad have certainly not helped them maintain any consistency.
There was good news and bad news for Milan on Sunday afternoon. Their Brazilian idol Kaka, who fans helped to persuade turn down a record move to Manchester City in January, returned to the squad following a foot injury and was named on the bench alongside another Brazilian hero, Ronaldinho. Kaka came on for Massimo Ambrosini at half time at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, but only lasted 25 minutes before being replaced by his fellow countryman after suffering an injury to his ankle.
More transfer speculation this week links the San Siro outfit with Cagliari keeper Federico Marchetti. Although Abbiati has been in inspired form it is regarded the Rossoneri are keen to find a No.1 to take the gloves for the foreseeable future and have set their sights on the 26-year-old, tipped for greatness by current Azzurri stopper, Gigi Buffon. If a deal is made for Marchetti, on a season long loan with the Rossoblu from Serie B side Albinoleffe, then Milan may just land themselves a bargain for around £1.5m.
Milan’s convincing 5-1 demolition of Siena at the weekend highlighted what they are capable of and underlined the weaknesses that have besieged them all season – namely a cutting edge to kill teams off and a solid defence. Against the Robur, the Rossoneri showed no signs of weakness. Giuseppe Favalli came in at centre-half for Philippe Senderos and his partnership with Paolo Maldini looked much more stable than when the talismanic captain has the inexperienced Swiss International alongside him. The duo dealt with everything aimed at them in the air, coped admirably with everything on the ground and were only breached by a moment of brilliance from Massimo Maccarone.
The San Siro club was also more decisive up front. As he had done the week before against Atalanta, Ancelotti went with Alexandre Pato and in-form Inzaghi up front with Beckham slotting in behind. This is a far more potent attacking formation than the Christmas tree Ancelotti persisted with for much of the season and with the seasoned campaigners in sound form, the Milan all-stars were uncompromising. Pato was also uncontrollable and with his devastating pace was a menace to Siena’s backline all afternoon. This attacking triumvirate look seriously deadly – and with the likes of Kaka, Ronaldinho and Clarence Seedorf to come back into the side, the options are boundless and all the more frightening.
The afternoon undoubtedly belonged to Inzaghi who capped a convincing Diavolo performance by reaching his 300-goal milestone. After notching his second and Milan’s fourth, the veteran striker, whose goals have also come for Parma, Atalanta, Juventus and Italy to name but a few, was handed a shirt with his name and 300 on the back to mark the occasion.
The prolific 35-year-old began his playing career for his home town club Piacenza in 1991 and went on loan to Leffe after just two matches. His Serie A debut for came for Parma four years later, but it was his move to Atalanta the following season that underlined his pedigree as a clinical marksman, winning the Capocannoniere with 24 goals to his credit. In 1997 he was drafted in by Turin giants Juventus where he formed a formidable partnership alongside Alessandro Del Piero and in four seasons notched 57 goals in 120 appearances. Having been benched in favour of David Trezeguet however, he moved to the San Siro and having bagged 62 goals in 155 games reached his landmark 300-career goals.
This weekend sees the Rossoneri travel to Naples to take on 12th placed Napoli. Former Milan hero Roberto Donadoni’s side has been struggling for form of late and having gone eleven games without a win have slipped down the rankings. With Kaka likely to be sidelined, Ancelotti looks set to name an unchanged outfield from the one that saw off Siena with relative ease, although one change the Diavolo Coach will be forced to make is between the posts.
It has been confirmed Christian Abbiati will be sidelined for up to six months after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament of his right knee following a collision with Favalli after only 11 minutes in the last round. Brazilian stopper Dida, who Ancelotti regards as a “luxury reserve,” will take the gloves for the rest of the season, but the change does not perturb the Rossoneri Coach who has complete faith in his second choice, noting: “We have won so much with Dida.”
With ten games remaining, Milan will travel to the Sao Paolo looking to maintain their six point advantage over 4th-placed Genoa, and if they can stretch their lead to eleven, will head into the run-in with the confidence their advantage cannot be overturned. With the form they are beginning to produce, it seems ever more likely they will qualify for the Champions League with a third place finish.
Twelve points adrift of Inter may be a bridge too far to cross, but the Coach will be assuring his players the five points between them and second placed Juventus is achievable. With eight goals in their last two outings and the deadly partnership of Inzaghi and Pato flourishing, it is not beyond them to inflict more woe on the Partenopei.
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