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Milan v Lecce: A Distracted Preview

I have to admit it is virtually impossible to write a proper preview for the Lecce match with an 800lb gorilla named Zlatan sitting in the room. This doesn’t bode well for me, and it doesn’t bode well for Milan either. The first match of the season should never be taken lightly as it sets the tone for the season ahead, and while a long season does in fact follow, if the scudetto is decided by a point or two, a loss early can be a deciding factor.

I will gladly admit I was all for Zlatan early in the transfer window, the idea back then was that Ronaldinho would be sent to the MLS, KJH sold for a sack of nickels, and Allegri moving this team forward into a new era. Instead we stand here now, with Zambrotta as our starting RB, Ronaldinho to sign an extension, and the only real significant first team purchase as Kevin Prince Boateng, who once acclimated will most likely replace Flamini in the starting lineup. We didn’t do enough to the rest of the squad to justify Zlatan, and we certainly won’t be doing ourselves any favors by spending two years worth of penny pinching on one single player with questions still on the table such as: What happens if Antonini is injured, suspended, or rested? Who plays when Zambro runs out of gas? Do we have anyone who can actually replace Pato in the starting eleven, and provide that kind of pace? Can Seedorf still go a full 90 in a CL match? If Nesta doesn’t make the full season can Sokratis be counted on?

These are not simple questions, these are questions that make or break a team competing on two fronts, and spending a big chunk of change that could have bought 3 or 4 players to solidify the squad just makes far more sense to me. If you have been following the blog at all yesterday, there was some top class discussion about the merit and value of striker if the team behind can’t win possession. Not to mention how does the inclusion of Zlatan affect the balance on the pitch? Can Milan really play with Ronaldinho, Pato, Pirlo, and Zlatan on the pitch and expect to defend a counter? Frankly, I don’t believe so, and should the deal go through, we will certainly find out…

Now onto more pressing matters, until Zlatan shows up here, for more than twenty four hours, he is not a Milan player. If past history has taught us anything (Suazo, Zlatan!?, and Cissokho) a deal is not a deal until that fella is on the pitch! There is a match on Sunday against Lecce, coached by a shrewd and wily Gigi Di Canio, who is not afraid to put his boys out on the pitch to gain a result. Lecce proved capable of scoring last season in Serie B, sometimes in bunches, and newly promoted teams always come out firing on the first day, this is not a match that should be taken lightly.

I find it rather ironic that Leo started last season with a 4-3-1-2 to disappointing results, and now Allegri may do the same. I do however feel it is far more likely that he uses Leo’s 4-3-3, an ironic fact as well. Outside of the GK, which is still up in the air for me at least, the squad will most likely be Zambro, Nesta, Silva, Ants, Ambro, Pirlo, Flamini, Dinho, Borri, Pato. We have discussed and analyzed the merits and short comings of this formation time and time again and I hope that Allegri chooses a more compact deployment than the acres of space left by Leo’s design. It will certainly be interesting to see, but more importantly will go a long way in proving Allegri’s merit and worth for such a high profile coaching position. With a new season always come excitement, apprehension and the hope for success, but Sunday will go a long way in proving or disproving all of that!

If you missed any of the week long season preview, check it out here...