Milan’s strength in depth can help Max Allegri earn successive Scudetti

Rarely has the football cliche “a game of two halves” been more appropriate to describe a match than when Milan took on Lecce at the Stadio Via del Mare at the weekend. Down 3-0 at half-time, the Rossoneri had produced the worst half of football they had played in years. The attacking trio of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Antonio Cassano and Robinho all struggled to get into the match as Lecce ran riot in the aging Milan defence. The second half was a different story however, with Max Allegri bringing attacking-midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng on to change his side’s style of play – a tactical move that resulted in a remarkable four-goal comeback.
Milan seemed to have overcome their early season trouble after the 3-0 victory against Palermo at the San Siro. The Sicilians were decidedly defensive in their gameplan, keeping most their men behind the ball at all times. Milan dominated the game and found the net in the 40th minute with a Nocerino tap-in, Ibrahimovic playing a large part in the goal. Cassano and Robinho would also score individual efforts in what became a one-sided demolition for the Milanisti. What unlocked the tight Palermo defence was the natural creativity that the Milan frontmen possess. With Palermo sitting deep in their own area, it was up to the slow but methodical fantasia play of the Rossoneri forwards to unravel new Palermo boss Devis Mangia’s gameplan.
However, Lecce’s Eusebio Di Francesco planned to take on the champions with a more attack-minded game than Mangia had last week. The Salentini Coach had his forwards pressure the Milan defence while also deploying a high defensive line that Ibra, Cassano and Robinho found hard to exploit. At first, the plan paid off. While the trio’s skill-set was perfect for the Palermo game, they did not have the right pace or workrate that was required for this tough away fixture. Allegri realised this at half-time and made one of the most inspired substitutions of recent seasons by bringing on Kevin-Prince Boateng.
Boateng’s determination to come on and win the game was the spark that Milan needed in the second half. The Ghanaian almost single-handedly turned the game around with an incredible 14-minute hat-trick, Milan eventually going on to win the game 4-3 after a Mario Yepes header. The No 27 lit a fire under the Rossoneri, and the team united to make a memorable comeback victory – one that could be vital come the end of the season.
Through the variety of style they have exhibited over the last two games, Milan have demonstrated their strength in depth can help bring them a second consecutive Scudetto. Allegri now has the problem every Coach wants – too many good players to choose from – and with the likes of Pato soon to return, that ‘problem’ will only deepen. However, if he continues to select the right players for the right occasion, there is no reason for Milan not to be sewing the Scudetto onto their shirt again next season.

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