It was August 29th, Allegri’s new Milan, looking strangely like Leo’s old Milan, thrashed Lecce 4-0. That game was funny because it gave us a very emphatic high but a quick shot back down to Earth as the loss to Cesena showed the glaring holes in Milan’s unbalanced lineup. But we didn’t have this worry, this was in fact a new AC Milan, Allegri’s Milan and instead rolling out the same silly 4-3-3 match in and match out hoping for something different, he went back to the drawing board and learned from his mistakes. With that a new team was born, a new AC Milan, a first place AC Milan.
I don’t put much stock in the first match against Lecce, for some reason or another Lecce thought they could come to the San Siro and attack, which was a mistake. They will most likely have a far different tactical outlook this time around and while I don’t necessarily think they will all out defend and counter, I do expect them to play wider in attack to counter Milan’s narrow play though the center of the pitch. The problem is they really lack the technical quality to overcome a team like AC Milan, which means any result by Lecce will be the fault of our own team.
Allegri’s last match against Udinese was a tactical nightmare, lack of personnel forced him into a poor formation and the organization of that formation gave Udinese too much room to do what they enjoy, and that is attack. The return of Ambro should do a lot for getting Seedorf off the pitch and more importantly not so close to our own goal. This will also help the defense as Ambro's presence along with Rino, and most likely Flamini, should help in stopping any counters.
Offensively Allegri has options, and depending on how Cassano has progressed this week in training he may return as a super sub or get a start to be subbed depending on circumstances. You could almost make a case for starting him as the CAM behind Zlatan and Pato, resting Binho, but considering the match and opponent you can also make a case for Merkel starting behind the strikers and making way for Cassano later in the match. The choice is Allegri’s but if there was a match where you can experiment a bit this is one of them. Not sure what the prognosis on Abbiati was this week but he should also be returning, and this will help further put the team back in order and get a nervous looking Amelia back to the bench.
My proposed lineup is as follows:
Abate, Yepes, Silva, Antonini;
Rino, Ambro, Flamini;
This gives Cassano a chance right from the get go if fit, and gives Allegri flexibility in substitutions and tactics depending on the ebb and flow of the match. If Milan gets a lead and they want to defend you can play 4-4-2 subbing Strasser for Merkel. If you are losing you can sub Merkel for Pato or Binho, and attack with some more pace and skill. Personally, I like options and scenarios, and by the looks of things lately Allegri hasn’t had any, so he should take advantage when he does!
Anything short of three points here will be a failure, and while I don’t like underestimating opponents this match should be won and won early much like the trips to Bari and Bologna. With that type of win it allows the team to relax, gives option for guys like Strasser and Merkel to get more minutes and the team to build more confidence as a whole. Looking forward to the weekend and more importantly the second half of the season reset, going to be a fun ride!