AC Milan’s season could be over before it has even begun
The first game of the new Serie A season brought the new Serie A season’s first shock result of the season, Andrea Mandorini’s well-organised Hellas Verona pulling off the surprise win against AC Milan, who were hoping to start the season better than last year’s home loss against Sampdoria.
It was the quintessential “underdog” performance, complete with a come-from-behind double from Calcio hero Luca Toni, but if the shocking part was the result then Milan’s sluggish performance after originally taking the lead won’t be surprising for anyone who watched Massimiliano Allegri’s side last year.
Despite the youth of Milan’s line-up (as well as the natural width and energy provided by the front three in particular) it was quite amazing to see how slow, passive and almost smug the Rossoneri played, with only Riccardo Montolivo endeavoring in moving the ball forward while Stephan El Shaarawy was barely visible, spending most of his time tracking back.
Under pressure coach Allegri did little nothing to stem the tide of doubt re-forming around his side, and after Adriano Galliani reportedly worked so hard to lobby for the former Cagliari tactician to remain at the San Siro, it doesn’t seem like Milan have worked on any of the flaws exhibited last season at all.
Verona coach Mandorini knew what he has at his disposal and used his side to try and get the best of Toni and they did just that, the veteran making a mockery of Milan’s set-piece defending for his first goal and punishing Milan with his head twice later on in the second half as Cristian Zapata tried to deal with the giant striker by flailing about in the air. Not pretty.
Milan fans better hope that Allegri was trying to save his side’s energy for the crucial second leg tie against PSV Eindhoven, or the Rossoneri will struggle to deal with the pace of the Dutch side, who will also welcome back star forward Zakary Bakkali for the game.
If this it, however, then Galliani will have to try and speed up those negotiations for Adem Ljajic and Keisuke Honda because his “competitive” Rossoneri side were making the same mistakes that dogged them during last seasons poorer periods.
Crying out for a creative presence in the final third to link the lost-looking Mario Balotelli with Andrea Poli and the disappointing Antonio Nocerino, Allegri’s side were tossing up balls to their star striker hoping he can create something on his own.
Someone needs to connect the wide players to each other and Balotelli, because it looked like every Milan player on the pitch at the Bentegodi was following their own personal game plan.
A second idea would be someone, anyone, to shore up that defence. Milan missed Mattia De Sciglio’s maturity and attacking intelligence to add another dimension to their play, but the two guys in the middle who looked uncomfortable dealing the 36-year-old Luca Toni are Allegri’s starting pair.
Unless Matias Silvestre turns into the reincarnated spirit of Alessandro Nesta (spoiler: he won’t) then Milan have only the returning Daniele Bonera to rely on to save them unless someone else is brought in. Yikes.
Rossoneri fans better hope that this is all a ploy to be ready for the budget-defining match against PSV mid-week and not a sign of things to come throughout the season. Based on this evidence, Milan could be in for a long season.