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FC Zurich 1 AC Milan 1

Boy oh boy did AC Milan play great today. What a draw, the lads played their hearts out and it appeared that no one could put a foot wrong out there! Ronaldinho easily looked like vintage 2006 and even Kaladze came on to shine at CB. The only gripe I had about the game was that the commentators were constantly babbling so I couldn’t here Leo singing Kumbaya once he realized that the good fortune was a by-product of Real’s victory as much as our stellar performance. Now if you are completely horrified, and utterly sick of the babbling bullshit I tried to shove up your ass then please click the jump, if you were one of the fellas who asked me to be "less critical" and more cheery about every single player on the team, then stop reading now.

In all honesty thought a heartfelt thank you needs to go out to Real Madrid. A win would have guaranteed our place, but instead we were stuck biting our nails and leaving destiny to chance instead of in Red and Black hands’. My first reaction to the match today was simple, is FC Zurich good? The first match at the San Siro saw a Milan unable to attack, terribly lost tactically, and seemingly moving in slow motion. It is important to be reminded that Milan has not lost since that dreaded day, but unlike that day when their game wasn’t working and they got a lost, the fortunes have changed as that same lackluster performance yielded a point today. Credit to Zurich though for finding a way to stifle a team that has attacked well as of late and has been a tough nut to crack possession wise and defensively, clearly they have found way to cause Milan problems. The simple fact that Milan were able to get a point out of this match and still qualify for the knockout stages is really the only thing anyone can hang their hat on.

Ronaldinho looked unfit. The twelfth minute said it all, Dinho against a defender nearly ten years his junior in the experience department dispossessed the former World player of the year and forced him to retreat back instead of attacking from the end line. A truly in form Dinho would have wound the youngster’s legs into a knot and left him in the dust, but instead the youngster can smile knowing he beat Ronaldinho on this day. Credit to him for burying the PK, a feat that Lucho of OM couldn’t accomplish to seal the fate of both squads. Seedorf was also nearly as lackluster and Pato terribly nonexistent. Now as I discuss Borriello, some of you will surely cite my” fanboy” status, but if KJH attempts a bicycle kick and misses he is applauded for his ingenuity and perseverance to try, following the Zurich goal Borriello attempted the same, I will leave the rest of this comment up to you, he did earn the PK after all. This idea leads me to a simple question that still boggles me as a fan and coach, is a pass a good pass because it reaches it targets or because it was creative? Is a shot a good shot because the player scores or because he attempted it? Puzzling…

Sllva’s injury was alarming but Kaladze seemingly didn’t cost us the match, and in the 53rd minute almost saved it with a great darting tackle. Tackle or not I still can’t wait until Bonera ,or even Onyewu, is fit again to avoid having to see Kaladze be first off the bench. Defensively the team was not so bad in the back, the real defensive issues were with Ambro and Pirlo who often looked confused as to when and where they should “take on” defensive responsibilities. Sometimes early and missed, often times late, their tackles and challenges on the ball were rather sloppy and it was this fact alone that allowed FC Zurich any opportunities at all. The defensive presence and support in the midfield was abysmal and Leo did well to recognize and take off Ambro, but he left Pato in the match for far too long, and I fear we will have a complacent player on our hands sooner than later if he isn’t shown a spot on the bench sooner than later.

In the end we have to constantly be reminded, by performances like today, that this team is capable, but inconsistent; the team is entirely dependent on every piece of the puzzle to succeed. Case in point, a strong presence on the wings on this day, with some decent penetrating runs early and success on the crosses, albeit few, was completely overshadowed by a complete lack of possession in the midfield. While it is great to shoot for the sky and hope that we can make a run domestically, if not in the CL, it is important to stay grounded and not have delusions of grandeur of what this team can do. Considering early expectations I almost have to say that the recent run of form is a small victory in what was to be a season of losses. When we are good we are good, free flowing and exciting to watch, when we are bad, oh boy is it bad! But like any marriage, albeit with a spouse or a Club, it is always through good times and bad, no matter how good or how bad.