Palermo comes to town on Saturday and if there was ever a kryptonite for AC Milan it is surely Sicilians in Pink jerseys. Last year this fixture was the only successful attempt out of four games to defeat Palermo, and Palermo fans will be quick to remind you that a dubious penalty broke a 1-1 deadlock late in the game and Milan didn't deserve the win. But that's history, and the real concern comes on Saturday.
Palermo used to be your perfect trap game. Opposing players and coaches writing off the lunatic owner, girly kits, and no name players, but the jig is up. Palermo is now a team to be respected despite the ever present lunatic owner, girly kits, and still relatively unknown players. Sure they sold Pastore and Cavani in the past two seasons, and still change Coaches like normal people change their underwear, but the players keep on performing despite the circus surrounding them. This is truly a testament to the players involved, and their mental fortitude. So far this season, Miccoli is on a rampage and Abel Hernandez, who gave Milan fits last term, is picking up where Pastore left off. Ililic is starting to find his form once again and it will only be a matter of time before his laser beam shots find the back of the net. Sure Balzaretti is suspended and Cassani on his way out of town, but it won't stop Miglaccio from trying to score goals or sure up the defense. Simply put there is reason Palermo is so close to the top of the table, and while I know it is still early in the season, they have all the makings of a strong squad. Smart on defense, solid goal keeping and the ability to score when they need to.
As a Milan fan it makes you a little jealous doesn't it? We used to score goals, play defense, and have solid goal keeping, what happened? No idea frankly, and while everyone wants to blame the Coach or Management for crappy tactics and transfers, isn't it time to look at this roster of talented players and ask for a bit more on the pitch instead of whining about what happens off it? No reason this funk continues with this amount of talent, and as the injuries continue to dissipate so should the listless performances. Many people laugh at my affinity for Rino, but it is a player like Rino who would grab this team by the scruff of the neck and remind them they are Champions, it is that spark, that leadership, that is missing. I just hope someone is willing to step up.
One welcome sight for sore eyes will be the return of Robinho. A funny character in Milan lore, for some, the little Brazilian doesn't score enough, for others he is the cornerstone on which Allegri built his Title run. Say what you want about him, but the mere fact that when he is in the lineup Milan concede less than a goal game compared to over a goal a game when he isn't says it all for me. Yes, he is a striker, but even the simplest of fan can see the correlation: if you don't concede you can never lose. So for me he is a must start in a must win game, but not sure what Allegri does around him, but here is my lineup:
Abbiati; Zambro, Nesta, Silva, Taiwo; Nocerino, Van Bommel, Ambro; Robinho; Cassano, Zlatan
Before you ask to many questions, let's make a few things clear. Abate is still hurt, Prince got himself suspended and while Seedorf has been playing strongly a little change to shake things up is needed so he can cool it on the bench. Ambrosini starts on the left with Cassano, coming off a great International break, joining Zlatan up top. Good balance in this lineup if Ambro can cover for Taiwo while he is pressing forward when needed.
It seems like every game Allegri gets closer to finding that true winning eleven and getting back the squad depth needed to correct the early season woes and compete on three fronts. I know it sounds like a broken record but winning will cure all that ails, and this weekend anything short of those three points will be a failure.