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Saturday Afternoon Hangover, SEASON PREVIEW

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I wanna give my player previews for the upcoming season and then give my projected lineup for this year’s Winning Eleven, please let me know who you think should be starting and if you think a player is more valuable than I have portrayed him. (I will not preview every player but only the ones relevant to the campaign ahead.)

GK

Dida- The number one keep is coming off a tough campaign where he took a ton of criticism for his ineptness on long crosses. The nice thing about Dida is he is intelligent, and many compare him to Petr Cech. He is fresh off a contract extension so I am sure he will get over last year’s gaffs and get back to form because in all honestly he is really the only keep that I trust.

Kalac- Decent backup but has really yet to prove anything because of his lack of opportunities. This is probably a good thing.

DEFENSE

Maldini- What more is there to say about the captain? The man is simply the best defender ever, period. If he is in the game old or not, fit or not, the backline is improved, he cannot play wingback the way he used to but his transition to the middle has been seamless and I am sure his last season will prove as valuable as all the rest.

Nesta- He ended last season on fire and I hope he keeps it up. Many forget that for awhile he was considered better than Cannavarro, and right now I would take Nesta over Canna on form alone. He has learned a ton from Maldini and he is as important as ever to the backline.

Kaladze- A quality fill in for Maldini with a ton of big game experience. If Paolo is not in there, this is the man I want to see. Can move to wing back if necessary but has become a quality inside defender, Milan was smart to not let him go to Chelsea.

Bonera- Still a bit raw with A LOT to learn, at least he will have some good teachers. He needs to improve on last season, he looked lost and extremely indecisive, two things that do not work for center backs.

Oddo- He is the only true current wingback of the bunch and was a huge pick up last season. He will play a big part in any success for Milan this season. His runs and crosses and because he is not a converted a midfielder he still knows how to stop an attack. Oddo is easily considered the second best outside defender in Italy.

Jankulovski- A converted midfielder who found himself nicely on the left side, has a lot to learn about defending but I am OK with him back there.

Cafu/Serginho- Either Brazilian can fill on the outside, but there age makes them subs at best. Not a bad pair to have on the bench when needed. I would put Favalli and Simic in the same spot.

MIDFIELDERS

Pirlo- A key distribution player for Milan who gets the ball from back to front, when Pirlo is on it is a scary thing. He really needs to be on his game for this whole ship to float.

Gattuso- The ultimate destroyer midfielder, he makes everyone around him better by doing all the dirty work. Without Gattuso, Pirlo and Kaka would have a hard time doing anything at all. Should be wearing the captains armband in Maldini’s absence because know one bleeds red and black like that man.

Ambrosini- Has slowly earned his way into the winning eleven and should stay that way. He needs to be more productive in the middle of the pitch and work as a liason for Pirlo, freeing space for the creative man to move up and down. I personally like Ambro and would not doubt his ability when given consistent playing chances.

Brocchi/Emerson- As much I hate Emerson, I think both players will give needed rest to Gattuso and Ambro for the long campaign. I am sure Carlo will turn to El Puma first, but Brocchi is a hard charger who fights for his time on the pitch and you have to love that as a fan.

Kaka- I have said it once and I will say it again; Kaka is still growing and learning and is on the doorstep of greatness. His consistency has to step up ten fold, especially I games that may not mean all that much. He really needs to be the guy that gets the ball from Pirlo and moves it to the strikers or goes to goal himself. I have no doubt on my mind that his humility will help him grow, if he is going to REALLY break out, now is a great time to do it.

Seedorf- Last December may have been the worst month of Seedorf’s career. He woke up at just the right time and if Carlo plays the 4-3-2-1 Xmas tree formation Clarence is a key man. If he plays well than he deserves his spot on the team.

Gourcuff- I have to admit I have liked what I have seen and I hope he gets a chance. I think he will fill Seedorf’s shoes nicely when he needs a rest, can also play Kaka’s role when needed. If he is the next Zidane, I wish Carlo would throw him on the pitch to prove it.

STRIKERS

Gilardino- Gila needs to step it up this season. I did not like his trade me whining in the transfer window, so he needs to really show he wants to be here. He had a tough campaign last season with injuries and playing time, and if he is given he obviously needs to make the best of them. He also needs to find that killer instinct in front of the net, it would not hurt to watch Pippo a little. He has way more skill than Pippo and needs to add that to a nose for goal.

Pippo- He is a great sub in striker who really gets going for big games. Can start when needed and always seems to produce when Milan needs goals. I was never a big fan of the always offside guy, but his value to the team is hard to argue.

Ronaldo- I am still on the fence on big Ron. I would much rather see Gila start but if Milan plays two strikers I like him in there. I don’t know if he can continue going a full 90, there were games when he was really struggling. I hope a full Milanello off-season remedies those issues; he will be out for a few weeks so if Gila makes the best of his chances Ronaldo may become a spot starter, but then again Carlo loves his Brazilians.

Aubameyang- I feel as though the 19 year old Frenchman earned his way onto the team this offseason. He may be a very refreshing talent and I would not mind seeing him get some cracks. We gave Oliviera a chance, why not Willy.

Pato- Only time will tell, and quite honestly I would rather not even comment.

WINNING ELEVEN

Dida
Oddo-Nesta-Kaladze-Janks
Gattuso-Pirlo-Ambrosini
Kaka-Seedorf
Gilardino

Gourcuff can slot into the attacking midfielder spot to spell those guys, with Brocchi or Emerson as mid reserves. Pippo can always replace Gila if needed as well. I like Cafu as defensive sub.

Well there you have it. If I was Carlo this would be my team, to bad I only blog about Milan, let me know what you all think.