I am going to cover this one in spurts, much like the match itself, things seemed to happen in quick bursts…
-So the makeshift defense wasn’t all that bad now what is it? Yes, it had its moments of poor positioning and tactical stupidity, but it could have been far worse. It helped that Milan retained possession for the majority of the match, but all and all a solid performance. Mexes asserted himself quite well while Taiwo sadly seemed to be playing in neutral. Sadly I think Taiwo may have flubbed his final chance, at least he was a free transfer and we can earn something on his sale. I expect maybe another chance tomorrow possibly, and then that will most likely be it for the Nigerian. To Newcastle for Santon anyone?
-Nocerino and Prince are the future of AC Milan. I absolutely adore their workmanship and industrious play, they make killer runs forward, they keep things simple in the midfield and they pressure the ball like mad men. Time to extend their contracts for life and for this team to start being built around bulldogs like them, add a proper CDM under the age of 30 and you can start talking about the Milan dynasty, TSilva, Nocerino, and KPB!
-If you still feel dirty about the PK, I have some advice for you, take a shower. Calls like this will always be part of the game, and they happen so quick it is almost impossible to fault the ref. Was it soft, yes, was it a dive, I don’t think so. In the box, things happen, and more often than not a player making a slalom run into the area is rewarded, defenders and keepers need to be just as smart. Stay on your feet and avoid contact, why does every defender suddenly turn into David Luiz in the box, and then complain about PK’s and diving?
-Robinho and Zlatan, while not creating a goal in this one, showed why their chemistry is superior to all other striker combos. Good movement, great off the ball work, and the ability to make the smart choices with the ball instead of simply trying to do too much. To his credit even Pato looked better, it’s always easier to play against a tired a defense when your stronger asset is running right at them.
Tomorrow Milan take on Cagliari for the last match before the Holiday break. Unbeaten in their last ten in Serie A, with 26 of 30 points, and a yearlong home unbeaten streak. The team is building on a solid foundation leading into the New Year. Abbiati has returned to training, but the lineup is a bit up in the air considering the match on the weekend and recent injuries to Abate and Antonini. I would expect Allegri to change little, if any and merely for the sake of fatigue, best to keep a good thing going.
Squad for the match:
Goalkeepers: Abbiati, Amelia, Piscitelli.
Defenders: Antonini, Bonera, De Sciglio, Ely, Mexes, Taiwo, Thiago Silva, Zambrotta.
Midfielders: Ambrosini, Aquilani, Boateng, Emanuelson, Nocerino, Seedorf, Van Bommel.
Attackers: El Shaarawy, Ibrahimovic, Pato, Robinho.
The result is most important in this and sure it would be nice to be Winter Champions, but we have to let somebody win something…