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Back in the Milan Groove with Genoa on Deck

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This has been the most difficult international break for me to stomach in a long time. Being around this game for so long, it really stinks when a team comes off a loss like Milan did and then has to wait for two weeks to get back on the pitch. It makes the fans stir crazy, and I am sure it makes the players nuts too because they want to get back out there and put the loss behind them. But regardless of the lay off it is time to get back out there and make amends.

I have to admit I was eying this fixture for much of the summer awaiting the return of Marco Borriello to the stadium that showed him so much success and support last season, but bad luck has struck and Marco suffered an injury so his chances of starting are slim but he may be on the bench for what I am sure is an important game to him as well. It is impossible to deny Borriello’s contribution to this squad last season and I am sure the loss will affect them on the pitch, but they will be inspired to play well against Marco’s new employer.

Borriello is not the only player getting fit, but Kaka made a return this week with 45 minutes in the friendly versus Lugano. The result was not what the squad was looking for but the minutes on the pitch for Kaka were very valuable so he can play in a game with very little meaning to get his legs back for a potential start this weekend. Should Kaka be fit, which is anticipated, it leaves Carletto with a wide array of attacking options at his disposal for the trip to Genoa.

Kaka was not the only Milan player to see minutes in the friendly, with new defender Senderos getting minutes as well even though he suffered a bit of a muscular pull in the latter stages of the game. Senderos claims he is feeling quite comfortable with his teammates which is imperative in defense, and gives the squad a bit of breathing room following the international break.

So what does Carletto have planned for this weekend? News out of Milanello is ringing in the possibility of 4-2-3-1 formation which is quite a change from the Xmas tree that we all come to love and hate in the past few season. The thought of that formation is exciting to me as a fan and if executed properly may leave us all in for quite an offensive show, but will it be enough the squad defensively?

The first and most important issue will be to select a back four that compliments the 3 man attacking line. With that kind of width behind the striker it takes pressure of the wingbacks to create width and makes players like Bonera and Antonini more attractive because they will be stricken with a bit less back and forth responsibility. I am all for the addition of Antonini time and again, and I think with players like Janks and Zambro returning from International duty it would be OK to give at least one of these guys a run out on Sunday. I would like Antonini, Paolo, Senderos/Bonera, and Zambro, which leaves flexibility to sub Zambro and push Bonera wide.

As for the two deep midfielders the question becomes does Pirlo slot into one of these spots or should it be Flamini and Ambro? I like the last two, which frees Pirlo up to the attack and allows him to maybe shake a bit of the rust, but we can talk more about Pirlo in a minute. The attacking mids can be Dinho, Pirlo, and Kaka with Seedorf ready to roll for a returning Kaka or Dinho who may still be looking for fitness. I wouldn’t even be all that upset with a breather for Pirlo and Seedorf in his place, but it leaves Carletto with very few options to slot in if one of those guys needs a sub. The bench does not allow for a straight switch in this attacking trio but instead warrants a striker addition or a defensive mid, depending on the score, or in Carletto’s case lately, the exact opposite of what should happen.

That leaves us with the striker, and my vote is on Sheva. Many of you may ask why, but he played well for his country and looks hungry despite being a little rusty. Pato still needs work and shows his inexperience, but he is a dangerously speedy option off the bench if the game is tight or worse. If Borriello is healthy, however, I want him in early and often because confidence in him will be rewarded, as Genoa learned last season.

I don’t want to make any predictions, because quite frankly I hate it, but I will lay out my proposed lineup.

Abbiati, Zambro, Bonera, Maldini, Antonini, Ambro, Flamini, Dinho, Seedorf, Kaka, Sheva.

If you want a Genoa tinted perspective, check out our new Genoa blogger here.

Lastly, which may prove to be a dumb move in the end, but I have never been one to bite my tongue, or in this case my blog. Granted it is my place to voice my opinion, and in turn yours. I want to say that I have been very critical of the Azzurri and Lippi in the past week, but I was pleased with the performance against Georgia. Sure it would have been nice to thrash them, but a win is a win and it is always very nice.

I will also say that I have always been very critical of DDR and other young players on the squad because they have to earn their status as stars, and not just be gifted it after one game or one great play/goal, but I am not to bullheaded to give credit where credit is due especially in this case. Am I ready to hop onto the bandwagon? NO, not even close, but I would much prefer the way Cappello is handling Theo Walcott and say let us see what happens going forward.