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Season Recap Part II

Was not our best year defensively, but we did learn some things...

Marco Luzzani

I want to shy away from grading or rating players for this season's recap because well, the numbers aren't very good! This isn't college where if everyone got a C we can curve the process, in fact very few players this season truly shined. In fact many players took steps sideways and backs, while others simply proved what they are capable of, sadly in defense more sideways than forward...

Abbiati - was his usual steady self, but had a few glaring errors on this season that got people questioning him but with 28 appearances in Serie A and 7 in the CL, Serie A's best GK in 2011 had a solid season despite the problems he contended with in front of him.

Abate - continues to improve defensively, but a complete fullback the likes of Maldini he will never be. He certainly can shut down opposing players, but can be prone to poor judgement in and around the 18 yard box instead of relying on his skills. This takes time and really in only four years as a RB you can't begrudge his progress. What I find most puzzling about Abate is people's criticism of his crossing. For this I have a question, if a RB delivers a good cross into the box and nobody is tall enough to receive it was it a good cross at all? If that didn't sink in, if a RB delivers a good cross into the box and no strikers in the six, is it worth crossing? For those who want "better crossing" watch some matches again, and notice when Abate has the ball in wide deep areas what happens to the shape of his teammates, report back.

DeSciglio - hands down the defensive players of the season for Milan, LB, RB,or CB he did it all. Now he had some growing pains along the way, but this is what happens with youth. For me he is the LB of the future, allowing Milan to focus on CBs, but he does not to continue to grow and show improvement. The most succesful Milan teams had an anchor at LB, and if Abate can attack down the right flank, Mattia can be the anchor! I look forward to more progress from this guy.

Mexes - to be brutally honest he let me down dramatically in the first half of the season. He was the veteran at the back, the cornerstone and instead he was erratic and inconsistent. Part of this was the lack of form of any CB's leading to changes and lack of cohesion, but for a guy who often times defends like he is a swashbuckling pirate, I wanted so more composure. Thankfully he saved his own bacon in the second half of the season, forging a partnership with Zapata and playing smarter better football. He will never be a distributor of the ball from the back, nor can he cover his partner, but he has the edge and tenacity you like in a pressuring CB, just needs to the brains to go along with it. To late maybe for that, but a decent second half of the season.

Zapata - like Mexes took far to long to get into gear. La Liga clearly made him soft early on and the physicality was lacking, he eventually remembered what it was like and while he never found his boss from from Udine, he did pull it together and earned his buyout for next season. I expect Zapata to be a focal in defense next season.

Constant - a pleasant surprise, and a master stroke by Allegri. He saw the Frenchman's versatility and intelligence and put it good use to fill in and cope with injuries. In turn KC made the spot his own, and played decent and consistent football. That was until the Camp Nou and his confidence went down the toilet but for a left sided box to box mid, he did a great job as a makeshift LB and should be rewarded. How that happens is beyond me? Does he return to the midfield, or does continue as a LB?

Yepes - his pace will always be a problem and while he was not as crucial as past campaigns he filled in when needed. Looks ready to leave this off season but did his part yet again when called upon.

The rest is just details...Bonera was a non factor, Acerbi was a bust, and Zaccardo a non-starter literally. Back tomorrow with the midfield and attack.