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All the Pressure is on Us

Being a Milan fan yesterday was a roller coaster of emotion, some fans were left cheering while others in dismay. How this story shakes out is beyond me at this point. I won’t speculate any longer, but I will say this before we turn our attention, on to more pressing matters, if it comes out that somehow Barbara stopped this deal, or that Allegri is on thin ice because of this, this will not be a happy place. Now it is time we talk Derby, because the only people who benefited from this soap opera circus are our dear friends Inter, and they didn’t need the help.

For some odd reason many Milan fans are penciling us in for a victory on the weekend. In fact I haven’t seen such confidence before a derby in a long time, even the sadistic doomsday tifosi seem high on our chances in this one. Unfortunately, there are a lot of factors playing against us and Inter comes in as the under dogs with nothing to lose, and you can never trust a team with nothing to lose.

We spoke about the merits of Ranieri and his ability to turn a match into a result oriented dog fight. We have also discussed at length the Pato saga and the Milan/Inter Tevez derby. The last time Milan endured something like this was with Kaka’s proposed sale to Manchester City and the team came out flat, almost appearing both mentally and physically exhausted. At the end of the day this was not the time for a circus. It doesn’t help that Inter are playing with swagger, winners of their last five, and with news that Wesley Sneijder may return only further tips the scale in Inter’s favor in this one. Now I am not saying we can’t win, but this one is going to be a challenge and if the goal is three points, Milan will certainly climb a mountain to achieve that goal.

It doesn’t help that Allegri is still struggling with some injuries with Abbiati and Abate just returning fit. Aquilani still injured and the threat of having to play Seedorf. Not to mention this little issue with the Duck, who started in Bergamo, but was subbed off in favor of Robinho who provided an instant spark and change in the attack. Will Allegri bow to the pressure, something he hasn’t done in his Milan career, or will he stick to his guns and play the more dynamic combination of Zlatan and Robinho, or can he throw caution to the wind and play all three? Choices, choices, choices, and not a position I would want to be in at the moment. Ranieri’s pragmatic approach will most likely see two defensive minded players shielding the defense and Allegri needs to consider that with this lineup, meaning Robinho or Urby may be physically challenged in the hole, so it needs to be a Prince day at CAM. That opens the door for some options at LM/RM and without Aquilani it has been rumored that Seedorf or Ambro will get the call, which could expose Milan on pace. I don’t think I need to say it again, this one isn’t going to be easy, so here goes my lineup…

Abbiati; Abate, Nesta, Silva, Antonini; Nocerino, Van Bommel, Urby; Prince; Bino, Zlatan

Antonini is clearly the lesser of the evils at LB and at least he can run, even it means more time chasing. We can’t possibly expect to play an old man duo in the midfield that includes Seedorf, not with Ranieri’s wing players, it just won’t work, so Urby has to get in and get his hands dirty defensively. Prince is the only player physical enough to make a potential duo of Cambiasso and Motta really work, and up top I don’t care what the Duck said or who he is dating, I want my dynamic duo of Zlatan and Binho pressuring Achilles heel, their aging defense.

So here we are winners of the last two derbies, and all the pressure to keep that hope alive. Can we make it three in a row or will the Tinkerman get the best of us? Join us Sunday to find out, and to think this one puts Inter back in the race and makes the task of a repeat scudetto all that much harder for us if we lose…nervous yet? You should be.

To Pato: as M.B. Mehdi said to me on Twitter, don't let this be a reality, "I'm hoping we see #acmilan tifosi hold aloft a banner with this on Sunday "Pato - Barbara loves you, we don't."" It may not be the case for everyone, but many are starting to see the value of your departure, addition by subtraction. To Barbara: Milan fans just paid for your happiness, the cost 35M, thank you.