Same 'Old' Problem For Milan As Real Win

Outplayed, out-thought and outfought. Milan was comprehensively beaten by a vibrant Real Madrid side, and on another day the result could have been much worse for the Rossoneri. This was without doubt the biggest test for both sides so far this season, and for Milan it affirmed some things that will not come as a surprise to most.

First, the Milan midfield is simply too old. Against a Madrid midfield consisting of Oezil, Khedira and Alonso, the omnipresent Milan trio of Pirlo, Seedorf and Gattuso was no match. Andrea Pirlo is perhaps the only one that still has something to offer, however, his strengths are rendered useless without the protection he needs from his peers. Pirlo’s partners in the centre, Seedorf and Gattuso, simply cannot afford Pirlo such protection, let alone offer anything else to the side. Gattuso, who will be 33 in January, and Seedorf, who will be 35 in April, simply do not have the legs anymore to play at this level. Both players were ineffective against better opposition; however, some of the blame must go to coach Max Allegri who started both players against Chievo on the weekend and somehow expected them to back up just days later against one of the best teams in Europe.

With the battle lost in the midfield from the outset, another major weakness in the current Milan side was left exposed. The Milan defence were run ragged by the pace and flair of the Real offence and with the midfield not physically capable to track back and help out, it was a messy affair for Milan at the back. Gianluca Zambrotta was left for dead on numerous occasions at the back along with his opposite Luca Antonini. The most worrying for Milan was witnessing Alessandro Nesta struggling to keep pace with his opponents. Although he is absolutely a world class player but the veteran’s age showed as he was caught out a couple of times due to his own lack of speed. The Milan defence was an absolute horror show. It is incredible just how Real Madrid did not manage to score more.

Responsibility surely needs to be laid upon those in charge of Milan’s transfer policy. However, some responsibility needs to go to coach Max Allegri. Allegri failed before the match by not resting the likes of Zambrotta, Seedorf and Gattuso against Chievo on the weekend, if indeed he intended to start them against Real Madrid. These players cannot play two or three times a week anymore. But Allegri also failed to recognise that Kevin Prince Boateng was surely worthy of a start. Currently, the Ghanaian international is the only Milan midfielder that can offer any dynamism, speed and agility. Furthermore, his commitment and determination is something needed in a side that all over the park is lacking in both respects.

Perhaps due to a lack of experience and courage, Allegri also failed by not introducing Robinho earlier into the game. Following his arrival on the pitch, the Milan attack was given much needed drive and speed through the centre, something that Ronaldinho could not provide. Robinho, for all the criticisms laid on him, is still a world class player. At the age of 26, he is also a relatively young player who has the energy and pace that this current Milan outfit is crying out for. Sure Robinho’s club career has been tarnished by repeated failure, but perhaps because of this more faith should be afforded to him because he is still a player with much to prove. Unlike the player he replaced, Ronaldinho, who does not have anything to prove and he oftens shows this in his performances. Ronaldinho, like his older peers Seedorf and Gattuso, also does not have the physical capacity to play two or three times a week, and mentally the Brazilian lost his motivation years ago.

With their peers completely outplayed behind them, there was not much for Pato and Ibrahimovic to feed off. Milan’s two main protagonists in the middle, Ronaldinho and Pirlo, simply could not offer any service to the two strikers rendering their performance along with the rest of the team which was so disappointing. The only positive from this game for Milan was the performance of Marco Amelia in goal. He looked assured and held the ball well when tested. Amelia’s distribution was also very good.

Milan coach Max Allegri has much to ponder before the return match on November 3rd. Another loss will make qualifying for the next round difficult. A win is required. There are no easy answers for Allegri as he will attempt to resolve the many issues Jose Mourinho’s Real so emphatically highlighted. Lack of quality and depth in the side is an endless issue at Milan these days. Allegri will have to be wiser with his team selections. He may have to start offering Robinho and Kevin Boateng more time, whilst perhaps taking a chance with one of Milan’s primavera players. One thing is for sure, if Allegri intends to at least achieve what Leonardo did last year, he cannot rely on the players he has thus far relied upon. Change needs to occur, regardless if he is provided new players.

Exclusively by Frank Tigani

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