Borriello 43, Pato 69
Milan were wary of a speedy Bari side who have been exceptionally strong at home this season whereas the Galletti were wary of a wounded Milan side who fell to Manchester United in the Champions’ League. In the end, the forward firepower of the Rossoneri proved to be too much for Bari to handle as they crashed to their first home defeat since September.
Bari faced their first blow on 33rd minute when Riccardo Meggiorini had to be taken off due to injury, making way for Fernando Sforzini. The latter was deployed as a target man but did not contribute anything to the team. Perhaps Giampiero Ventura should have introduced Vladimir Koman who possesses greater speed and athleticism. Furthermore, the duo of Alessandro Gazzi and Massimo Donati was completely overrun in the middle-of-the-park. Gazzi’s form in particular, has been worrisome for Bari. His distribution has been poor and his partnership with Donati has not been working for quite some time now. At this rate, he will lose his place to Sergio Almiron who can control the midfield in a better fashion. As always, all eyes were on Leonardo Bonucci. The youngster was defensively solid for large parts of the game and made one goal-line clearance. However, he was also guilty of losing Marco Borriello for the first goal.
Milan dominated the game and had a massive 70% possession at the end of first half. Massimo Ambrosini and Gennaro Gattuso snuffed out any possible Bari buildup from midfield, whereas Andrea Pirlo was continuously pumping passes from his trademark position. Ronaldinho had a great game and his form is critical for Milan’s continuing Scudetto challenge. Borriello has picked up a tendency to score spectacular goals. If he scores a bit more often, he will definitely cement a place on the plane to South Africa. Daniele Bonera did not look comfortable in the left-back position and made several errors. When Marek Jankulovski was brought on for Bonera, the Czech international got immediately involved in the game and started the move that led to the second goal. Every defence likes to maintain a clean sheet and Christian Abbiati’s penalty save was icing on the cake for the Rossoneri.
Bari Coach Ventura gave a classy post-match interview. When the game was deadlocked in first half, Bonera appeared to have pushed Paolo Vitor Barreto in the penalty box. This resulted in strong penalty claims but referee Gabriele Gava ignored the protests. Ventura could have chosen to add fuel to the already controversial refereeing in Calcio, but he chose class over curse. He expressed regret over the penalty incident but at the same time recognized that Milan were the superior team and that they deserved victory. Perhaps the person coaching the other side of Milan could take lessons in humility from Ventura.
Every time the gap with Inter is closed down, there is talk of Scudetto race being reopened. If Milan win their game in hand, they will be just 4 points behind Inter. Consistency in the Rossoneri side will be the key to an interesting Serie A ending.