It's a Throwback Thursday, and the Derby della Madonnina approaches. Why not take this opportunity to relive one of the best matches between Milan and Inter to get pysched for Sunday's clash of cross-city rivals? Today's choice is is that epic day in the not-so-distant past on April 2, 2011, when Alexandre Pato decided he'd just go ahead and destroy Inter on his own. On the night Il Papero was absolutely unstoppable, scoring twice and threatening Julio Cesar many more times. He Milan to a brilliant 3-0 victory (the third goal was scored by Antonio Cassano, that traitor) against their archrivals. On the off chance these glorious events have already faded from memory, allow us to escort you down memory lane:
It was a one-way game, except when for that one time when Christian Abbiati made an incredible save to deny a close-range header by Samuel Eto'o, and (oh, it hurts to say this, thinking of today's situation) Milan would have deserved more than the three goals they scored. Robinho created a lot of good opportunities but wasted all of them (as he does), Mark Van Bommel was a bit unlucky when he hit the crossbar from a distance - but Pato and
Fat Antonio Cassano showed their efficiency by scoring Milan's three goals. The Italian striker, who subbed in for Robinho after 79 minutes, treated us to a display of his notorious temper when he was ejected just before the end of the game due to a dumb foul. But all's well that ends well, eh?
The best highlight of the match is surely Pato's opening goal, which came after just 47 seconds into the game. Il Papero was an amazing player when he was fit, but unfortunately he spent most of his time in Rossonero on the injured list and nobody will really ever know just how good he could have been if everything went the right way for him.
Milan's 2010-11 Roster
The 2010-11 season ended with the 18th Scudetto in Milan's history. That year's roster was as impressive as the final outcome:
Goalkeepers: Christian Abbiati, Marco Amelia, Flavio Roma.
Defenders: Alessandro Nesta, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Massimo Oddo, Marek Jankulowski, Gianluca Zambrotta, Oguchi Oniewu (sold in January), Bruno Montelongo (sold in January), Daniele Bonera, Thiago Silva, Dìdac Vilà (acquired in January), Nicola Legrottaglie (acquired in January), Luca Antonini, Mario Yepes, Ignazio Abate.
Midfielders: Mark Van Bommel, Gennaro Gattuso, Clarence Seedorf, Rodney Strasser, Mathieu Flamini, Andrea Pirlo, Massimo Ambrosini, Urby Emanuelson (acquired in January), Kevin-Prince Boateng, Alexander Merkel.
Forwards: Alexandre Pato, Filippo Inzaghi, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Marco Borriello (sold in January), Giacomo Beretta, Robinho, Ronaldinho (soldi in January), Nnamdi Oduamadi, Antonio Cassano (acquired in January).
The ideal starting lineup was:
That is a team to envy. Those were the days.
Nowadays, Milanisti have become accustomed to an, erm, much less impressive roster. That should help them appreciate even more the quality of this formation. However, that version of Milan was not only theoretically good, but also able to adapt to many situations depending on the opponent, which made it all the more dangerous.
They normally played with a 4-3-1-2 formation - evidently Mihajlović's choice is a nostalgic one -- dictated by Ibrahimović, who was free to do whatever he wanted in the offensive part of the pitch. However, they could vary their disposition to an attacking 4-3-3 based on Robinho/Emanuelson and Pato/Boateng respectively as left and right winger if they needed to play wide. The three-man midfield line formed by Seedorf, Van Bommel/Ambrosini, Gattuso/Flamini, together with an atypical trequartista like Kevin-Prince Boateng, was a perfect mix of strength, intensity and technique, and provided the right balance of both offense and defense. The defense was great, simply stated. Nesta and Silva -- who are arguably one of the best center-back duos in Milan's history -- formed a wall in front of Abbiati so Abate and Zambrotta could attack with no fear of coverage.
Now things look completely different from the past, and Milan's record against Inter since that game (1-3-4) indicates a discouraging trend. However, just like Pato's goal in 2011, the Derby della Madonnina will never lose its charm.