News on the Milan front has been painfully slow during this International break so there is little of importance to address so I will jump right into the Chievo preview, and more importantly address the fact that the team, heavy emphasis on the team as a whole, has improved over the course of the past three matches and it is imperative this improvement continues and peaks in and around the Derby in November. While the Derby is always the utmost importance the play and performances leading up to it are even more important in earning the points needed to mount a legitimate title challenge.
Historically Chievo has provided little resistance to AC Milan, and granted while all the matches have not exactly been pretty or surefire victories, Milan has almost always come out on top. But playing teams like Chievo who defend deep and counter with pace has proved a kryptonite for Allegri’s Milan and there is no time like to present to break this cycle and do what a good team of “champions” should do and break a defense team with goals early forcing them out of their shell.
Goals may be an issue as Zlatan has been nursing an injury and playing two games for Sweden may not give him the needed to time to get healthy and play at the highest level. With a congested fixture list in the next few weeks Allegri may use this opportunity to try a different formation and get the big Swede a rest if possible, but at the same time both Pato and Robinho are coming off International matches as well, albeit friendlies of less importance.
In the past three matches Allegri has deployed a more balanced formation resembling a hybrid 4-3-1-2/4-3-2-1. It has been effective and mostly because Ronaldinho is doing what is needed of him in the center of pitch and playing some defense with Robinho dropping back and in as well to clog space and stop counters. In these recent games, in which Milan has been successful, it has been mostly an issue a balance and Allegri would be keen to keep that in place. On paper this may be a match where he can tinker and as mention earlier find players a match to rest, but if he does go to the bench he needs to do so in a manner effective to the player chosen and the team as whole. For example, throwing Onyewu alongside Silva or Nesta for a match like this should be considered, maybe Strasser in the mid alongside Pirlo and Rino? I am not advocating for a squad of youngsters, but mixing in a bench player here and there to rest starters in a match like this should be considered. By doing this Allegri sends a message to everyone involved by integrating new players while still expecting a result, two trends that have become lost at AC Milan.
Your guess is as good as mine on the lineup, but if I were picking things it would go as follows:
Amelia for the injured Abbiati with Abate, Onyewu, Nesta, Antonini, a three man midfield of Pirlo, Strasser or Merkel, and one out of the three in KPB, Rino, and Flamini. Ronaldinho or Seedorf can play CAM and a striker partnership of Robinho and Pato with Pippo ready for second half cameo.
This lineup maintains balance and chemistry in the right areas, while giving an opportunity to rest Zlatan and integrate new players in different spots. By mixing in some pacey youth it will also help defend against Chievo’s quick counters and give us some pace to help breakdown the potential defensive presence. All and all this is a good spot to take three points, beat a team that defends deep, and get chances for some new players in a match that is important but not impossible to be successful in. If those keys are met then this fixture will be a success on more than just the pitch…wishful thinking I know! We can all have a laugh when Allegri rolls out Zambro, Nesta, Silva, Antonini, Pirlo, Rino, Seedorf, Dinho, Zlatan and Pato…
For those still interested, the team I coach is now ranked seventh in the nation, we won again on Tuesday and have match Friday as well, hoping to break the top five next week, if any of the boys are reading keep up the good work and train hard, nothing is going to stop you if you keep playing hard and as a team!