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Palermo 1 Milan 0

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So I spent the day watching my U14 Boy’s win both of their group matches to book a spot into the semi-finals, in Sunday’s knock out rounds of the NEFC Tournament, a great day of football, only to be ruined by AC Milan. Have a lot of notes following the match so I am just going to ramble on bullet by bullet…

-First loss of 2011, first loss away from home since Cesena, and first loss in Serie A since Roma. A whole lot of streaks shattered on this day, and what could have been a big lead has dwindled down nothing as we sit here and bite our nails as the Derby looms. I am not throwing in the towel, and I am still not worried, if this team wants to take the long road and walk it, I have no qualms, but it is time they stand up and show they want this title as much as we do because one goal in 180 minutes is not the mark of a Champion.

Italy Soccer Serie A

-I was really close to writing Sirigu 1 Milan 0 in the title line, but that simply wouldn’t be fair to Palermo, Serse Cosmi, and the throngs of Palermo supporters who came out in full force and were absolutely thunderous on this night. If ever there was a group fans who could have quit after watching their team get slandered by their owner, this was them, but they didn’t give up, and their presence as the twelfth man was felt all the way in my living room. Sirigu = Beast, Pinilla = Beast, and the kamikaze defending and great organization of Palermo earned them this hard fought three points. At times they were in a 3-5-2, but more often they simply defended in a 5-3-2 and broke hard on the counters. They never generated anything overly dangerous but they took the chance needed and held on for dear life.

- The fact that a group of 13 and 14 year old boys have absolutely no issues playing until they hear whistle, yet a veteran professional like Mark Van Bommel makes me want to break something. His poor marking, then basically caught with his arm up and his pants down cost Milan a silly goal and was the beginning of the end for the team on this day. I can’t blame Van Bommel completely, the whole team was shambolic on the corner kick, and set pieces have proved pivotal this entire season. 3 points lost on this day, and draws with Bari and Lecce are all by products of a loss of focus on set pieces; inexplicable and inexcusable for a team of veterans like this one.

- Today was Nesta’s Birthday, one year older, and a howler of a match to be forgotten. He never once looked comfortable with the ball at his feet, in defense, or when he pushed forward. His frustrations were evident and his talk of retirement this week may be getting the better of the ever steady CB. Watching former Milan youngster Darmian have a gem of a match, gets me even more frustrated because the lack of proper grooming for Nesta’s replacement is just plain stupid. Letting Darmian walk, and Astori seemingly going the same way, we haven’t made any progress on Silva’s future line mate.

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-One place we no longer have a problem is at RB! Abate is simply stellar, he is getting better going forward every match and watching him go head to head with Balzaretti was a treat for a fan of defense. At times he got the better of Italy’s best LB and if Prandelli was watching he has to be pretty happy about the potential of having both those guys marauding the wings. I have to wonder if Galliani is thinking the same thing, but at this point that would be far too smart a move as he was probably busy watching you tube videos of some no name LB from the Danish third division. Balzaretti and Taiwo both attainable this summer, and Galliani is probably still striker shopping…

-Speaking of strikers, no goals sans Zlatan and the Milan media and anyone else who fancies themselves a pundit will start the Zlatan-depedant argument all over again. I want to put an end to that right now with a simple question. Did Milan have a lack of chances today? NO. Without Zlatan this team did fine, the issue was once again one of that missing clinical or precise pass that leads to a quality scoring chance. In fact the movement and interchanging was better without Zlatan and the fact that both Pato and Cassano were dangerous for brief moments puts the Zlatan issue to bed for me, the real problem is those guys not stepping up and imposing themselves.. Since the Napoli match Pato has blown hot and cold and today he was back to his old head down self, not making that simple one-two combination that would see him onto goal. Cassano was also wasteful, and while he has the magic to do something, he seemingly fumbled every easy pass or free kick he was given. To be clear, the team was not poor in Zlatan’s absence; they still created, but never had the fishing touch, an issue we have been contending with even with Zlatan...

ITALY-SOCCER

Again my apologies for the scattered rambling but when my notes look as crazy as they did, this is sometimes the only way to corral the inner workings of my mind. It would appear that the Renzo Barbera remains a fortress, and without a win there since 2006 a trip to Palermo, even for a vacation, is making me ill (BTW, we play them in the Coppa Italia Semis!? Looks like that trip is coming in a month...). So here we are, Inter breathing down our necks, and a much less secure title race…anyone having fun yet?