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Turning Beauty into a Beast?

What happens when the self-proclaimed (heavy emphasis on self-proclaimed) home of beautiful football in Serie A trades in their slick passing, 4-2-3-1 formation, and bald coach for a rigid formation and the most efficient Italian tactician since Trapattoni? Results. Gone is a team in pursuit of "beautiful victory" and fans who believe in beauty over results; in its place is a ruthlessly efficient squad with only one goal in mind and that is three points, a goal so strongly pursued, it has propelled a team left for dead at the start of the season to within striking distance of second place. Counting out Claudio Ranieri is never a good move, and when you want to find a Coach who has been unfortunate more than anything else, this is your man. It wasn’t long ago when we were calling for Leo’s head, and I was secretly hoping he be replaced with the "tinkerman," and while his track record at Juventus was not good, he is very skilled at taking an average team and squeezing the most out of their talent and skill as shown with his CL Semifinal for Chelsea and a miraculous relegation fight with Parma, and the trend continues with Roma.

With Roma’s late season charge to the top of the table this game exceeds the mere joy of blog rivalry. Roma currently sits three points out of second place and a win here is a six point cushion for Milan and a strong grip on second place while keeping eyes on Inter. It almost pains me to think that this match will actually a be a plus for Inter either way, as it directly effects their two closest competitors to the title, but if Milan can win this match and Inter drop points, this thing gets interesting yet again (the roller-coaster continues!), so again nothing personal to Roma, OK maybe a little, but we need these points more than they do. They have failed enough in second place post Calciopoli, let us have our turn at chasing the title, at least if we fail we can only blame ourselves.

Roma look poised to have Luca Toni back in the lineup who has not started since Roma beat Juventus. He will promptly be acquainted with Tiago Silva who will be eager to show his improvement since the last Roma match, and keep Toni under wraps. Totti looks to be out this match, but if you want my honest opinion I would rather see him crying his way around the pitch than the figure of Mirko Vucinic, who has made Milan pay on more than one occasion. To make matters worse our Roma killer, Pato, will be out of action leaving Leo with a choice between Abate, Becks, and Mancini. My personal preference, if fit, is to have to Mancini take a crack at his old club, emotions will be high and he may feel the need to impress, not to mention I personally like playing someone who may have something prove ,if not Abate's pace may be worthwhile to keep the defense honest. If Abate does play it allows for Mancini to spell Dinho if needed, and seeing that both Borri and KJH had international duty this week I am calling for a fifty-fifty split so Marco can start next Wednesday.

The midfield battles will be cagey to say the least, and the trio Leo chooses will have to take into consideration the trip to Old Trafford. My initial feeling is to play Rino, Clarence, and Flamini, giving Clarence enough support and balance for his lethargic forward movements, but part of me can’t imagine Ambro being rested for a game of this magnitude, and the same can be said of Pirlo, so maybe we are looking more or less at Ambro, Pirlo, Becks, though I would prefer Flamini for his pace. Defensively Abbiati, Nesta, and Silva are a must, I am sure Abate can start on the RB, giving a Bonera a rest for OT, and starting Janks on the left to give Antonini some more time to find fitness. The problem is little has come out of the Milan media machine, as of late, in terms of injury reports on Antonini, Clarence and even Zambro, who I care little about at this point. What I want to know is if Antonini will be OK for OT, and how Leo will use him. Does he play a bit Sunday? Does he just start at OT? Does Janks play both games, he is our only true LB!?? To many nerve-wracking variables for me to be comfortable moving on...

I still can’t help but hope Mr. Ranieri’s pragmatic nature has him overestimate Milan and pursue a draw in this match, but it would be a tough sell considering Roma is at home and all. I also don’t think Milan is even remotely capable of a draw as this team never seems to have a collective mentality for ANYTHING, except of course SUCKING ROYALLY, we showed how to do quite effectively for 180 minutes against Inter, but they did it as a TEAM! So, expect a game with some goals, and a bit of attacking play, OK probably a lot of attacking play, and hopefully Milan can come out on top. A win would be fantastic, and part of me can concede the CL to ManYoo if it meant a chance at Inter, but man I can’t help but think a Roma and ManYoo scalp in one week would probably make my season…remember I am resigned to fact of no silverware…but this team can’t get to ManYoo unless we take care of Roma first…see your for step one Saturday!

Here are some highlights from the first match, and a reminder to be rid of this impostor wearing the Pato mask of late and bring back the guy in this video…he was electric…