Been a while since we have been able to say that, but the midweek win against Bari in a match that Allegri clearly took seriously you have to believe we have built some momentum and can erase the early season shock upset to Cesena come Sunday. The match won’t be easy, and I would expect Cesena to put up a stout defend and counter performance, but more on that later, let’s first bask in the after glow of the performances of Merk and Robinho against Bari!
I still simply can’t get over the amount of work that Robinho puts in every time he is on the field. For player that was inconsistent and a bit lazy at Real and Man City, he has simply been one of the hardest workers on the team and Allegri has rewarded him for his efforts. Pato should take notice, and while Robinho joked last week about not having or needing to score, relishing his role as a support striker, he should have simply said if I am not scoring I will try and do whatever else it takes, which he has done rather admirably. Merkel was just as impressive having his hand in two Milan goals, but he found a way to play simple and not put himself into positions where he would be prone to make errors. Maybe this was a byproduct of the opponent, or simply that he had the fortune of playing with Ibra and Cassano, but either way he seized the opportunity and if fit you would be hard pressed not to hope he starts on the weekend in place of the statue known as Seedorf!
I am glad Allegri pushed the issue this match, this team needed to find some confidence again, and this was just the way to do it, he subbed and rested enough players to be OK for the match against Cesena on the weekend. While I can’t say I am happy about the Pirlo re-injury, I hope he can recover and get back on the field sooner rather than later. Not sure what the final word is at the moment, but if anyone does have it please post in the comments. Onto the Coppa quarter finals and hopefully Allegri keeps this mentality going forward to having Milan competing on all fronts, while this is exhausting, it assures everyone will have a chance to contribute and stay sharp.
With the Bari game behind us, and a win under our belt, it is now time to erase the Cesena debacle from the beginning of the season. I don’t want to look to far into that match as the team has changed immensely both in personnel and in tactics, but it doesn’t mean that Cesena will not try to execute the same game plan while frustrating Milan’s attack. I would expect Cesena to play in a 4-3-2-1 formation and fall in narrow when Milan have possession and spread wide when they counter, it will be imperative for Milan’s bulldog mids to win the ball early but also to cover back if the Abate and Antonini get forward. This may not be the type of the game in which a player like Strasser is given a run out as it requires tactical awareness more than skill and running, I would expect a midfield of Ambro, Rino, and Flamini to keep Cesena at bay, a job they did admirably against Lecce, had it not been for set pieces errors.
Defensively I would expect Abate, Nesta, Silva, and Antonini. I would hope to see a bit less aggressiveness here from Silva to make sure no one is running full speed at Nesta without cover. But that directive will have to come from Allegri, and it would be silly if he doesn’t give the order after watching the previous match. I hope to see Abate continue to improve on his performances were he has been strong going forward and a more polished cross will start to lead to more Milan goals, something we can all be happy about. It would appear that Abbiati should return for this match and getting the first choice keeper back and everything he has brought to the table it should help tremendously. Speaking of goals, it is in the attack where Allegri has the most options, and always seems to have the most to gain or lose. Last week we watched as an impatient attack fumbled with passing and creating chances in the opposition penalty area, this week may be the same. Personally I have to believe if Cassano is fit enough he should get the start alongside Ibra. His ability to play in tight spaces will be an asset and it gives Robinho a chance to rest or play CAM, but what better way to reward Merkel for his midweek performance than by giving him a start in a game like this one?
Much like the Lecce match last week, it all boils down to Milan and their performance. If they possess the ball with patience and precision this match should be won easily and early. If not then mistakes may cost them as the match drags on and if chances to finish are not taken. A easy win here allows Allegri to make smarter subs and still accommodate some the lingering injuries. Dropped points in the last two matches while not catastrophic will start to add up and getting back into a winning mentality should start now as the CL season is just around the corner.
See you all back here Sunday for the afternoon match and FORZA MILAN!