You really could not ask for a better game or performance from the Rossoneri. With a trip to Zurich looming, the squad went out early and took the game, allowing themselves close to sixty minutes of controlled possession football and rest on the pitch. Leo did well to make the subs early and prepare the team, and for the first time in quite a while there is a quiet confidence among the team and most likely the fans with an utterly flawless performance.
It needs to be said that Sampdoria looks abysmal, truly a team that has lost all ability and direction. It would be nothing short of a miracle if Del Neri, a typically strong coach, still has a job on Monday. Credit to Cassano, who truly seems to have a grown up, because we all know he is very capable of imploding in time like these times. But again credit to Milan for taking the game to a team that clearly was not up the match. Many times this team has been guilty of playing down to competition or lacking overwhelming quality, but today they showed it, and hopefully they can continue to win games convincingly in which they are clearly the better team.
The ever present critic and perfectionist in me is never happy, and there are still some niggling issues that can be addressed. It needs to be said that Leo most likely set the squad on cruise control, and Del Neri probably ordered his boys to foul whenever possible, but Pato seemed to disappear late. Again there are factors that contributed to this, but his selection of shots versus passes could have made a three goal victory a five goal victory with ease. Again this more an observation then a complaint as we continue to watch Pato continue to grow.
Abate’s inclusion in the right forward spot was interesting. His pace was electric, and while he too was fouled incessantly, it would have been nice to see him take the ball inside and not suffer from Oddoitis when crossing the ball. His versatility though is second to none on the squad as he can play any spot on the right and credit to Leo for recognizing and using it, but I can’t help but expect more. The same expectations argument could be made for the rest of the subs with Flamini and KJH coming on and doing very little to disprove their places on the bench. Many of you quickly leapt aboard the KJH bandwagon last weekend, and while I was lambasted for not jumping blindly aboard, I will continue to walk behind with today’s 30 or so minutes from the Dutchman. Again this game was in the bag, but subs need to come on and prove their worth, not just fill a spot, and that was not done today.
I don’t want to rain on a great victory, especially coupled with an Inter loss, and the newly lit race for the scudetto, but if this team really wants to contend and fight for the title, then every player on the squad from the number one star to the 22nd man needs to be ready to contribute to the best of their ability and help push this team forward. Expectations have risen every week from a very low at the start of the season, to new hopes for a title and there should be no satisfaction from any player or fan until the new goals are met. That same mentality and killer instinct should travel to Zurich as the Rossoneri look to qualify for the knockouts round for the CL and continue their absolutely amazing run of play.
I will end with a memory of Alberto Zaccheroni. Today this team reminded me of his scudetto winning Milan, it doesn’t play like typical Milan, and it certainly doesn’t lineup formation wise like Milan of old, but like Zaccheroni’s Milan Leo’s Milan finds a way to get the job done and if that continues it will be a season to remember. Hopefully Leo hangs around a bit longer if he finds that same success!