The first and most important thing to be said is that in a sense the Auxerre match was mission accomplished. The goal in the CL group stages is to win at home, and regardless of the way the match was played, which was by no means pretty or decisive, they found a way to win. There really is little else to be excited about. The team still looks a bit disjointed and cohesion looks to be weeks away, but to find one positive it would have to be the three points.
The win, however; didn’t come without a cost and while it was funny to see people pleased with Ambrosini and Pato’s injuries, it is those same people who will have some explaining to do if this team, desperately lacking midfield depth, suffers any further injuries. Robinho can cover the attacking flanks, but if he or Ronaldinho goes down, things will have to change. Boateng did in fact provide a spark, and his hard running and tireless work ethic was refreshing. There is no doubt he can become a member of the winning eleven, but with a crowded fixture list it is best to have 4 or 5 capable midfielders to slot into the lineup, instead of 2 and 3.
Reports today are claiming that both Ambro and Pato will be out for a month and the house of cards that is our depth chart is now missing a few key cards from the bottom. Past Milan teams have leaned heavily on older players like Inzaghi, Favalli, and Seedorf during injury problems, and while Seedorf appears to be going nowhere, we may finally see Allegri mix in some new blood. Forced or not, it is hard to believe a guy like Merkel or Strasser won’t find some minutes with Flamini and Ambro injured, and Rino lacking real semblance of form, only time will tell, but Saturday is much closer.
With Catania making the trip North, Allegri will hope to continue to build off the CL win. With injuries to starters in each line (Silva, Ambro, and Pato) Allegri will most likely continue to rely on Bonera at CB and Robinho at RF. Boateng has almost certainly earned a place in Saturday’s starting lineup but the question becomes his fitness, after a long season with Portsmouth, a World Cup, and his first real match minutes since coming to Milan and no real summer break. I wouldn’t be surprised if Catania tries to steal a play from Cesena’s playbook and counter with Mascara and Lopez, who have proved problematic to Milan in the past. Last season’s match with Catania saw Borriello bag a late brace to net one point in draw, this year it will be up to Zlatan, Robinho, and Ronaldinho to deliver all three points.