On the heels of the Roma match and leading into the Madrid I want to talk some tactics, specifically the use of Dinho in an advanced role and how this could potentially exploit Madrid’s real weakness, their defense.
Leo was wise to attempt to play Dinho as a striker against Roma, as it gave him a snapshot to see his ability for a full match prior to Madrid. The first half was poor, Dinho did little to shake markers, and Seedorf spent more time chasing than possessing and passing which compounded the problem. The key to a Pato-Dinho strike force is the pace of Pato to break markers and the skill of Dinho to hold the ball and find his country mate. The ideal setup, something that is most likely repeated countless times in training would be to find the feet of Seedorf or Pirlo who would then turn, granted with time, and find the feet of Dinho who would be asked to penetrate and shoot or find Pato once the defenders collapse on him. Dinho can also pass back as shown below to add even more tactical skill. Granted, against a discipline defense this tactical setup may be solved quickly but a team like Madrid with backs that press and CB’s that foul this may work wonders!
This setup also removes some responsibility from Dinho to track back as a mid, and puts him one step closer to the goal. Instead of being required to shake off three defenders he can receive the ball 18-20 meters out and then pass or shoot…simplifying his game, and asking less of him. In essence it is an excellent move by Leo and may suit Dinho’s aging lack of pace and drive, don’t take that as a knock Dinho supporters because if it works he may have a starting spot and we lose that stiff KJH come January for a defender; Gareth Bale anyone!?
Madrid will be without CRON and as Jovan mentioned earlier they may be ripe for the taking. Granted we cannot forget about Kaka, but he is finding it hard to gel with his teammates and it will be interesting to see if his heart is in the match or not. For all the money Madrid has spent the players that make that team tick for me are Lassana Diarra and Xabi Alonso. It will be imperative for Seedorf and possibly Rino and Flamini to crowd the area occupied by those two players in an effort to stop the passes forward. The key to victory against Madrid is to make them play deeper in their half and farther away from goal. With a full team you do not want CRON and Kaka receiving the ball 35 meters out, you want them at the half line at that will be the key to Milan’s success, for as good as Kaka was, he was rarely dangerous in very deep positions and keeping him out of his comfort zone will be key.
Once that turf war is won, Dinho and Pato can exploit the space behind Lass and Alonso and pressure the CB’s with the ball at their feet. Yes this is easier said than done, as are many tactical discussions, but if Pirlo and Seedorf can work the ball into the feet I believe Milan will have a magical night. In some ways I am more optimistic about this match than I was about Roma, maybe because I know how badly Milan want to scalp Madrid, or how much CL play means to them. Either way I like our chances and while I am not expecting miracles, a cautious optimism seems to the mood of the moment, not to mention sometimes it is fun to be the Underdog, they have nothing to lose! Spoon sing it for us...