After 142 votes it was a dead heat between facing Bordeaux and Sevilla. Frankly I understand this choice, even if it is the easy way out, they are two teams on the list that lack a real European pedigree, they are also teams a bit younger without the real level of CL experience that other teams would carry.
Unfortunately my vote is not on either, I don’t think either of their play styles lends itself well in a matchup against Milan, and I certainly don’t want a repeat of Arsenal in 08. If you remember correctly everyone had written Arsenal off in that tie, a draw at the Emirates and an imposing trip to the fortress of San Siro, Arsenal took the game to us, played with swagger and nothing to lose, and Milan has not won a CL game at home since!? So instead of upstarts, I am choosing our old friend SAF and his Manchester United. Historically we have Man United’s number in the CL, I know SAF still cringes at the sight of Ricky Kaka in a rain storm, and considering the position they are in with depth and defensive injuries being an issue, not to mention the overdrive schedule the EPL goes into January, the first week of February may see a Man United ripe for the taking. They have looked far from convincing on the season, and are a rather fortuitous team with quirky games this season against Sunderland, Arsenal and Manchester City where they took points that were not necessarily deserved. Matchup wise if Silva and Nesta can bottle up Wayne Rooney and Milan can dominate the midfield, this ties looks very winnable, granted now that I have described my wishes karma will gobble them up and give us Barca, but I have said my peace. As for Chelsea, I would prefer the romantic Carletto reunion for the final…if we even have a chance to get there!?
Onto more pressing issues and this weekend’s welcoming of Palermo to the San Siro. A little over a year ago I was in a Mexican beach bar and still have the sour memories of a hapless Milan losing to Palermo, and Dinho missing a PK and albeit ending his hopes and chances for first team football, fortunately Milan reversed the result later in the season, and it is amazing to see the difference a year makes for our club. Dinho is arguably the best he has been at the moment since arriving at Milan. Sure he can no longer beat a player on the dribble, and some of us, specifically Pera, believes it has something to do with the junk in his trunk, but he has been able to reinvent his game a bit and use his passing skills and daft touch to create space for his teammates and lead the Serie A in assists. Truly a feat considering the epic low he was at this team last year.
His running mates in the leading line are not as consistent, and in fact have polarized a bit with Borriello finding the net and Pato missing it entirely as of late, it is difficult to gauge who will have come to play against Palermo. I was personally in favor of benching Pato for this match to give a him a bit of wakeup call but outside of Abate there is no one who can play that position and be dangerous both in to the box and with the pass, so Pato may get another run out despite not be very deserving of it. In the midfield we may see Flamini in place of Ambro who is battling a stomach bug, with Pirlo and Seedorf playing yet again. With no game midweek this is far more acceptable this week than last, Zambro should play on the right with Antonini getting a well deserved start on the left. It is ironic that as soon as our wingback spots have solidified to some strange extent, with Janks close to returning, our CB’s take a hit with Silva joining the injury list alongside Bonera and Onyewu, leaving Kaladze the only starting option with Favalli next in line. Well there is always Ambro if all else fails! Expect Milan to make a swing at a CB with Davide Astori being heavily linked based on price and potential, and the impending grandfather-hood of Favalli and Kaladze.
As for Palermo, they pose an interesting threat, which I am sure is well covered here by Steve. They are trap game of sorts much like Samp, but while Samp has apparently lost its way from earlier in the season, Palermo has adjusted and improved under wily tactician Delio Rossi. Miccoli is an underrated giant, no pun intended on the little man, and Cavani can be very good when he is motivated. There were rumors this week of Nocerino being brought on board at Milan and this game gives him a chance to prove himself to the Club and the fans. I have always liked him as a player and his work rate and think he has good talent that would lend well in the 4-3-3. With Inter playing Atalanta three points will assure the lead remains at 4 and keeps Milan within striking distance of first place, we may not win the scudetto but sitting in first in the next few weeks would be a nice consolation prize and keep the team motivated on this win streak. Unfortunately the game is not going to be broadcast on FSC, instead they have chosen Inter and Atalanta, so check back here for streams on Sunday AM.