Allegri has done well all season long to stifle attack minded teams, he has shown great ability to put forth a well balanced 3 man midfield, and get a decent amount of work from players like Robinho and Prince in the CAM role. Bottom line defense has not been a problem; instead Allegri’s issues have come in the attack and getting this team on the score sheet. As if this problem wasn’t enough, having Zlatan and his fourteen goals in the stands certainly won’t help matters, but as we have discussed in the past this team still has the players to make this work.
For me it all starts with the CAM spot, and depending on who Allegri chooses they will most certainly get a boost at the possible return of Pirlo to his revised role in the wide left of the midfield. Before his injury Milan were cruising with this hybrid wide play maker role, a string of 3 goal games, and a strong defensive spine were key to Milan’s success. Having Pirlo out wide relieves him of defensive duty to some extent, and allows him the time and space to operate in way that brings him back to the World Class status he experienced from 2006-2008. Put him on the field with Prince and you get the best of both Worlds going forward and in defense.
Allegri’s second most important piece of business is the striker combination and for me it has to be Cassano and Pato. I certainly like Robinho, but his tendency to be wasteful in front of goal is unnerving and not needed in a match as important as this one. By playing Pato and Cassano together you also force the defense to contend with the pace of Pato and the craftiness of Cassano, and keeping the all four defenders pinned back and on notice will be key to Milan’s goal of keeping possession and forcing Inter to play defense early and often. It is also important that Allegri and Milan win the midfield battle, not always an easy task with the likes of Cambiasso, a historic thorn in Milan’s side. I expect Van Bommel to get the nod alongside Rino and suddenly this midfield battle alone is as exciting as the derby itself. If Milan can win this battle winning this match will be just as easy.
With that said it is time to share my eleven, hopefully Allegri feels the same!
Abbiati; Abate, Silva, Nesta, Antonini; Pirlo, Van Bommel, Rino; Prince; Cassano, Pato
Again this is dependent on Pirlo being fit and if he is, he simply must play. The rest is close to the formula that has made Milan successful all season and it is time for this team to silence the critics, earn the three points and start to put some breathing room between them and the rest of the table. To date they have always done things the hard way, and finally they have a chance to rectify that and give us what we are all craving, a SCUDETTO. Give us back a chance to prove we are the best team in Milan, give us number 18 putting us on par with Inter, and give Milan fans a chance to celebrate for the first time since winning the Club World Cup. It is time our patience is rewarded!
On a side note, I won’t available during the match my scheduling and rescheduling was an absolute failure so I need all hands on deck here to keep this place fun, sane and civil. I hope to be back Sunday with a recap and maybe even a podcast in the cards so enjoy and FORZA MILAN.