Upon first glance at the lineup, I figured a draw here, on Sicilian soil, was a fair expectation. Thanks to our illustrious Owner, the back line today had a RB for a CB, a midfielder for a RB, a something or other for a LB and a single proper CB. All in front of a young GK, who truth be told has shown signs of improvement but if every you want to test his nerves this was the day!? A far cry from the steel trap defense of AC Milan, but sometimes your Club rewards you with little surprises. Today was one of those...
Yes, Catania is rock bottom, and a loss here would have been catastrophic but if there ever two Clubs sharing each other's pain this was them. Catania jumped out to an early lead in the 13th minute on what could be considered an own goal off the failed block of Bonera, sending Castro's shot looping over a rooted Gabriel. Milan did not relent, and soon were back level with Montolivo's first goal of the season and oddly on his 25th in Serie A. The goal was interesting because it came from an Urby cross from the left side, Milan's first goal from a cross on the season and the last team in Serie A to score such a goal.
MIlan had all the ball and all the shots and still went in level at halftime. Eighteen minutes in Balotelli ended his four goal drought with a booming free kick and then minutes later Catania were down to ten men and ended any chance at a comeback. The Elephants struggled with eleven, and the man advantage for Milan proved to be to much as Kaka put the nail in the coffin late on for his 99th goal in Red and Black.
It was surely an entertaining match, sloppy at times and a bit rough of tumble. The sort of match you get in Sicily. The make shift defense didn't help and the tactical issues with Urby and Poli, specifically tracking back and filling in space, left some wide open in the flanks for counters. DeSciglio and Abate fix this match rather easily, and would have left Catania with nothing. Bonera continues to be a calming presence at CB and Silvestre is a sight for sore eyes. Think Yepes without the cement shoes, tough and smart, the thought of Mexes and Zapata now makes me cringe. Max was able to work SES into the mix in the 78th minute and while Kaka could have slipped him in on his goal, it was good to see the kid in action in the 4-3-2-1. Some clamored for Cristante as well, but while Nocerino was average, his traits were what this match called for and had Max gone with Cristante, NDJ and Monty at any point in the match you would have three holding type midfielders and nobody to do the channel running and pressing.
Now a welcome week off, and three points to silence the circus, but for how long? Back this week with a tactics piece on the XMAS tree, if you missed why the 4-2-3-1 doesn't work check it out here.