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Catania 0 Milan 2

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Five first team players missing, no problem! Playing with ten- man for the forty-minutes, light work! Reshaping an entire midfield, no sweat! Scoring two goals in the second half, down a man, and beating Catania in their home cauldron, STUFF OF CHAMPIONS!!!

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Over exaggerated? Maybe, but once Van Bommel did his best De Rossi impersonation I felt that sinking feeling that this was going to be a chippy nil-nil draw, mirroring the first half, and one that would require a gargantuan effort from the defense of AC Milan. Instead Milan took advantage of a free kick, almost a necessity when you are down a man, and then Allegri made a smart sub and tactical shift removing Cassano for Oddo who slotted into the defense so that Silva could shift up into the Destroyer Desailly role and allow Milan to attack, maintain possession, and not just kill the game but get a second goal.

SOCCER-ITALY/

Personally, I am not too pleased with Van Bommel not even lasting 53 minutes in his first Serie A match, he put the team at a disadvantage in a must win match. But the way the team reacted and galvanized, has left me both impressed and satisfied. Defensively and through the midfield Milan were very stout and despite at times being very narrow, Simeone arguably got his tactics all wrong as he played directly into the narrowness and made it almost too easy for Milan to keep attacks in front and not being challenged on the flanks. Yepes was once again positionally sound, and his covering tackles and interceptions were excellent. Not bad for a guy get older, but maybe the Milan magic is working yet again for an old defender! Catania was limited to one good chance in the 75th minute on a dreaded corner kick but the rest was solid despite some nervous moments late with a two-nil lead.

This day; however, in my opinion, belonged to Allegri. He lost Ambrosini, who hopefully has a short recovery (at this time I am not sure of the details), but using all three subs to make an entirely new midfield and utilizing Janks and Oddo to maintain some sort of solidarity and freshness to players for the Tuesday match against Lazio, was very well done. The team continues to find ways to win despite the issues at hand, and if they can earn three points from the Lazio match midweek, it will have been a succesful January that got off to a slow start. I would offer a lineup and preview for Tuesday but the only certainties at this point due to suspensions and injuries are probably Emanuelson in the midfield, Pato as a striker, and Yepes at the back. As for the rest, your guess is as good mine...

Highlights for those that missed out…