MILAN, ITALY - MARCH 24: Zlatan Ibrahimovic of AC Milan celebrates scoring the first goal during the Serie A match between AC Milan and AS Roma at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on March 24, 2012 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
What better way to prep for Barca then to play BarcaRoma just a few days before. Luis Enrique's Roma is the perfect dry run, in theory, unfortunately their play didn't really emulate Barca. There was no sustained possession, slick passing, or fervent attacks.Sure there was some diving, but outside of that it was Milan who dictated play and tempo for better parts of the match. Until a goal from Osvaldo, against the run of play mind you, and leaving Milan with everything to gain in the second half.Gain they did, they started early with the attack much like the first half and while the goal came from a PK on a De Rossi handball, it seemed inevitable that Milan would score. Sadly they didn't score as often as expected or hoped, and players like Urby and El Sharaawi were not rewarded for strong performances, but as many of us already know sometimes the ball just won't go in. Two posts, and two great saves from Stekelenburg made this match closer then it needed to be and Roma really struggled winning the ball in the midfield meaning Milan were given space to attack most often on the left flank. The barrage of shots was not rewarded, but the long ball from Muntari to Zlatan was rewarded as Roma was out of position and Zlatan found the winner over Kjaer and Stekelenburg.
I am sure someone will admire Luis Enrique's foolhardy use of all his subs to try and snatch the three points but it was this attacking stance that led to Milan's winner. Allegri on the other hand went the safe route moments later taking off a striker and adding a midfielder to complete a 4-5-1 and preserve the points. Take note Luis, in Italy you preserve points, not give them away, despite what some fans tend to believe!
Speaking of Coaching decisions I am sure we will get a blip in Hindsight Einsteins coming out and questioning Allegri's decision to play Silva in this one. Mind you these are the same people who are first to piss and moan if Milan drop points and the best players aren't on the pitch. No surprise on that one, but the simple fact of the matter is that Allegri played his best players to win a Scudetto, the CL comes after. Is it conservative, yes, but it is also a rational and realistic view considering the chances. While some are ready to concede the game on Wednesday already, due in part to the loss of Abate and Silva. We need to find some faith and hope somebody steps up. Early reports are that Silva suffered an injury of the muscular variety, but it can also be his ankle. Time will tell on that one but we will talk more about Barca in a day or so, in the meantime let's enjoy the win.
Great performances from Mexes, Urby, Muntari, and most notably El Sharaawi who continues to grow in his role and prove himself an asset. In fact Pato's latest injury may be the best thing that happened to Milan since we sold Ronaldinho. It showed we don't need him to be successful, in fact the exact opposite this season, and that guys like El Sharaawi, Lopez and Robinho are ready to step up when called upon. The youngster deserved the goal today, as did Muntari, working hard to get into good spaces to shoot, but the ball just wouldn't go in. Boateng also came back strong, with good footwork and attacking phases, hopefully he remains fully fit and ready for midweek.
Seven points clear at the top with our dearest rivals playing head to head this afternoon. I don't expect any favors from Inter in this one, but frankly they need the points. But to be honest I would take a draw and be happy! Hope you all enjoyed the first win in our new home at SBNation, not a bad start!