A six game unbeaten run doesn’t sound like much, but for a team like Fiorentina who have endured a strange and arduous season that is something special. Not something they want to throw away in an instant, and certainly not something they will roll over and give away. Yes, Mutu is suspended and Jovetic is still on the road to recovery but this Fiorentina squad is not to be taken lightly. Especially not by a team who should be looking at each and every one of these last seven matches as though it were a cup final.
Was I overdramatic? No, not at all, because if you treat this one as a must-win, then the next and so on, you start to stock pile points and if Napoli or Inter slip up the magic number to the Scudetto continues to dwindle until eventually it reaches zero and the sooner the better. I can’t speak for anyone, but I know I want this thing wrapped sooner rather than later so the last few games are simply a celebration of AC Milan football and not edge of my seat nail biters.
So what does this team fresh off a Derby destruction of Inter need to do keep the focus high and the ship on course? First is to avoid the distractions of the week, Nesta’s retirement talks, Mexes in or out (for those interested in eating up BS his wiki page said he will play for Liverpool in 2011, there is a God and clearly he is not a Scouser), and CRON to Milan, it seems like what was as a quite camp had eyes on becoming a circus. This is where Allegri steps in and keeps everyone’s eyes on the prize. The biggest story though out of Milan is if Zlatan will get on the field in his first game back after the suspension and I have to give it a definitive yes. While I am still not 100% on his play with Pato, I think Robinho needs to sit for a few minutes and think about his missed chances and with Cassano serving a red card suspension, Zlatan and Pato are the way to go.
Behind the strikers I have to give the nod to Prince yet again, and when he plays that role from the start of the match, Milan have not lost, is there any other reason but this to make sure this a reality? The midfield may see the return of Pirlo to play alongside Van Bommel and Flamini. For many this will be a plus, and for Pirlo even more so. I wasn’t thrilled on the way Milan were handling his contract situation but the more I think about it the better I feel. Pirlo now has seven games to play for his contract, what better motivation than that? I think we all know what he is capable of and he will show it, this team was firing on all cylinders when he was healthy and no reason that changes, who knows maybe he is the key to the Pato/Zlatan conundrum as well.
Defensively Milan need to worry about Vargas, but Abate’s pace and newfound defensive solidity should have no issues there. The LB spot is up for debate as it has been all season and while I can make a case for Urby to get the start, I can’t see spending all that much effort on it when Zambro will most likely get the nod. So here it is:
Abbiati; Abate, Nesta, Silva, Zambro; Flamini, Van Bommel, Pirlo; Prince; Zlatan, Pato.
Truth be told the lineup matters little really because the end result of three points in an away game is all that really matters to me. With seven matches left on the schedule, and away games to Roma and Udinese, this one is pretty important to take the full points. Milan has habit of doing things the hard way this season but still sitting atop the table, how about that ends and we wrap this up early!
I have a confession to make, once the match post goes up on Sunday I will be somewhere in the mountains of upstate NY. For the first time in longer than I can remember I am taking a week off, the stresses of my real job are taking its toll and a week away from Coaching is going to be a big help as well with the stresses of Coaching two teams since January a bit taxing. While my original plan was to literally go “off the grid” for an entire week, mountain man style, but the thought of a Milan free week this late in the season made me ill. So I will try to post, but maybe not at length, and maybe not regularly, but please bear with me as I get some much needed stress relief. I will be back next Saturday to resume my duties, all of them, in earnest. In the meantime I leave this place in ALL of your very capable hands.