Bovo 9, Hernández 19, Miccoli 69
A combination of a lack of motivation and lengthy injury list almost guaranteed an apathetic performance from Milan, who were defeated comfortably by Palermo at Stadio Renzo Barbera. Thus, the Rosanero complete the double over Milan and maintain their unbeaten home record.
One talking point of the game was the lack of experience on the Milan bench. Out of seven substitutes, four youngsters had played a total of just 18 minutes of Serie A football this season. One way of looking at it is that a team like Milan, which is supposed to be competing for titles domestically as well as internationally, cannot have such inexperienced players on the bench. But a more important question is that why they were not thrown in to the thick of the action already. Massimo Ambrosini and Andrea Pirlo have already conceded that the Rossoneri are out of the title race. Automatic Champions League qualification is almost assured, if not mathematically guaranteed. A large number of senior players were injured. Such a scenario was perfect to test drive the Primavera defenders sitting on the bench – Michelangelo Albertazzi and Andrea De Vito. Of course, it is possible that they could very well have done worse than the aging defenders that started the game, but the end-result would not have been any different.
Instead, Coach Leonardo started Gianluca Zambrotta and Massimo Oddo. The latter is naturally a full-back and had a nightmare of a game at central defence. He gifted the ball to Fabrizio Miccoli, who assisted Abel Hernández for a thunderous finish. For Palermo’s third goal, Oddo simply stood and watched as Miccoli produced a beautiful curled finish into the top corner. As the Palermo attackers rushed through, the Rossoneri defenders were left clueless with the exception of Thiago Silva, who provided the saving grace. Left-back Luca Antonini was at fault for Palermo’s first goal as he failed to mark Cesare Bovo who produced a simple tap in.
The rest of the Milan team was not as hapless as the defenders. Clarence Seedorf had some very poor touches in the first-half but he improved as the game wore on, although there was a clear lack of connection between him and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. The Dutchman cut a sorry figure up-front and his negativity was not helping the team at all. However, the connection between Ronaldinho and Seedorf was visible as they tried to fight their way back into the game when two goals down. The Brazilian was constantly trying to run at the defenders and find a way past the solid Palermo defenders. Even Pirlo had a decent game as he was trying to dictate the play and help out defenders from time to time.
The Rosanero, on the other hand, once again played like a well-oiled machine. All the players performed their respective roles to perfection. Fabio Liverani did not commit hara-kiri this time and they cruised to victory. Miccoli’s magic, Hernández’s finishing ability, Giulio Migliaccio’s hard work, the full-backs’ defensive and offensive abilities – everything was there to see. All three areas of this squad – attack, midfield and defence, have an optimum mixture of dynamic youngsters and experienced players. They look more ready than most other Serie A teams for the grand stage of UEFA Champions League.