AC Milan Club Focus: Three thoughts on this week in Milan
Just a few thoughts on a pivotal week in the world of AC Milan..
1) Milan have already won the biggest game of their season
As the whistle blew at San Siro, Milan players held their arms up in celebration as the 50,000 supporters at the Guiseppe Meazza expressed a seemingly simultaneous sigh of relief. Whatever happens this season, Milan have arguably already won the most important prize: Champions League qualification.
Along with the passage into the group stages comes a lump sum to the tune of around €30m in TV money and various other bonuses that mean that Milan can actually look at strengthening a side to compete with rivals and big spenders Fiorentina and Napoli in rivaling Juventus to a Scudetto tilt. It’s the difference between competing for 3rd and adding enough talent to add one more horse to the Italian title race.
However Milan spend said money (€11 million currently being p*issed up the wall, I mean, spent on Alesandro Matri as I write this) will be key to how the Rossoneri’s season develops. Keisuke Honda’s arrival could be fast-tracked by 6 months, finally giving Milan the creativity they desperately need to aid the connection between Stephan El Shaarawy and Mario Balotelli while despite the addition of Matias Silvestre, young CB Mamadou Sakho would be a wise, cheap addition. After missing out on Adem Ljajic because of the financial delay European progression dictated, Milan could do with sending the negotiation speed into overdrive to properly improve the team.
2) Alessandro Matri makes no money, however you look at it
The addition of Alessandro Matri is one that will leave many Milanisti scratching their head, especially for the price. €11 million for a player that will serve as the 2nd option as a striker until the original 2nd option comes back from injury and relegates further down the roster makes little sense. Why not loan a guy? Why not trust a promising youth player, like you said you were going to?!
It appears that Milan have taken a novel approach to the “youth-centered” approach, instead bringing in players who were on the youth team in years gone by, sort of like Rossoneri-rejects-reunion. As touching as that idea is, the idea of bringing in a 29-year-old guy for €11m to replace a 28-year-old guy you swapped Antonio Cassano and €7m smacks of disillusion. Milan had been linked with Matri for some time now, and it seemed that board members at Via Turati have brought him in simply so can they say they did it. Being able to pay over four years gives Milan some nice breathing room, but overall it’s a strange addition to a team that is already full of forwards.
3) Milan meet Barcelona again for a hat-trick that nobody wanted
Hey, do these guys look familiar? Milan meet Barcelona for the third season in a row, with “Tata” Martino the third manager in the same period to deal with Massimiliano Allegri and his men. What also comes with it is the third, inevitable “we know Barcelona will keep the ball, Messi best player in the world” press conferences from the Milan players and coaching staff that we’ve heard every time the two sides have met(Allegri should just read his notes from last season).
Sharing the group with the socially awkward “ha, we meet again(again)” Milan-Barca situation is Scottish champions Celtic and the Dutch Champions Ajax. In a group that boasts 16 Champions League titles between them, there is no guaranteed win in any of those ties, although home wins against Ajax and Celtic are expected(but like I said, not guaranteed). Milan should aim to get 8 points minimum from both sides(home win, away draw) and then aim to re-capture some of the magic dust Max Allegri blew on his troops when the sides met for the first leg of the round of 16 last season. The Rossoneri should be favorites to come second, the next trick is to live up to that moniker.