When a team prepares for an upcoming match the goal is to look at previous matches and find some positives in which to build on and maximize. The problem with AC Milan of late is that the positives are few and far between, and the inconsistent play is a nightmare for any team and coach trying to look for a block in which to build on. The first Madrid match was a disaster, the Napoli match was an ugly win but when the team plays better against eleven than ten you have to ask some questions! The Juventus game was well, a big letdown, and with Madrid only a day away you have to wonder what Allegri needs to do to right this ship.
The problem at the moment is really down to a lack of personnel everywhere on the pitch but the attack and with the attack not finding the net as readily as promised or expected the onus has been on the rest of the team to provide a bit of strength and keep the team in matches. Unfortunately, this is virtually impossible when the only healthy actual fullback as of this post is Antonini and his poor of late shouldn’t exactly be earning him starts. The midfield is just as inconsistent with Rino playing leaving it all out on the pitch but his partner flanking Pirlo be it Prince or Clarence has not exactly matched is work rate. Then there is the bothersome figure of Flamini who should have done exactly what Pepe did a few weeks ago and tell Allegri he will do whatever it takes to help the team even if it means playing RB or LB, sadly I am still waiting for such a conversation.
One thing that can be viewed as a positive has been the play of Robinho, who has been busier and more dynamic than the man he has replaced, but his emergence has seemingly come at the cost of Pato’s regression. The last three matches for the Duck have been fundamentally challenged and his decision making, even when chasing down a pass is puzzling. Just watching bits and pieces of the first half against Juventus, he was on the receiving end of a few classic Pirlo passes but how he handled those passes or got himself into position to face the goal just looked half-assed, and his inability to use his speed, his best asset, has been poor. When you watch what Kaka did at the end of those passes, you can see that Pato has not development as effectively as the man he should emulate in all aspects of the game.
So where does that leave Allegri for his rematch with Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid? To put it rather frankly, screwed! Defensively he may have Silva back in the back, but with Abate the only healthy right back and Ants the only healthy left back the choices are limited. Even if Allegri wanted to send Ants a message with some time on the bench, he can’t, so much for using playing time as an incentive. The midfield has almost the same dilemma, with Ambro possibly returning but Rino and Prince being run into the ground of late it will be impossible to keep up with Real Madrid for a full 90 minutes. I would say start Flamini, but his skill set is not exactly going to change the complexion of such a match and clearly his play in training is not earning him a chances late on in matches anyway, so maybe a for sale on the Frenchman come January is the best bet. I guess Allegri just rolls the dice with Ambro, Pirlo, and whoever else has gas left in the tank.
As for the attack, you may as well give Pippo the start, at least he is going to get called offside a few times and disrupt the rhythm of the match, but maybe his fox in the box mentality is what Milan is missing and may even open space for Zlatan. The problem is historically Zlatan doesn’t do well with partners up top, so even that idea is a bit lost. You can stick with the trio of Zlatan, Pato, and Binho but in three matches they haven’t exactly blown opponents out of the water so this is also a roll of the dice.
All and all, I don’t harbor this belief that we can wipe the pitch with Madrid; instead I would like to see a few positive forward steps that this team can build on going forward. The first being, keep a clean sheet, I don’t care if we park the bus in front of our goal at home, but keeping Madrid of the scoreboard would be awesome. I would also like to see a collective effort in the attack; Robinho has done far too much work of late to not get a good link up with his attacking teammates. If you consider the skill of those three players there is no reason we can’t have a slick passing combination breaking one of those three to goal. Even the goals of late have not actually been products of that sort of linking play, a lack of chemistry may be a real issue. Finally, I want to see some heart, maybe I am being nostalgic when I say this but I miss Milan teams that played together, with a common goal, with a common passion for the game and the shirt, we saw a flash of it against Napoli, but it was fleeting, but if these guys can’t find a way to be a TEAM then these issues won’t go away, maybe they should pay attention to what Juve did last Saturday.