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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Milan beats Napoli, but problem persists....

It is not often that when a team wins 3-0 and goes 5 points clear at the top, you still find a lot of flaws in that team. It is true that a win can cover up a lot of issues, something that wont be talked about until the team starts losing. AC Milan beat Napoli 3-0 on Monday night but it revealed a few things.

Milan still seems to be struggling to find the right combination between Pato and Ibrahimovic. Yes, Pato scored a beautiful goal and set up another yesterday but Ibra's involvement in these goals was minimal. They might have provided some excellent one-two passes inside the box, take a look at it again and you tend to feel something is still missing between the two. On the contrary, the passes between Pato and Robinho looks more complete. They can find the passes between each other's feet so fluently and regularly, naturally because both are Brazilians playing together in the national team as well. Time seems to be running out for the Rossoneri in this aspect as there is another talented striker on the bench ready to come on and make an impact. Allegri seems to be uncertain on whom to start with. Pato has an excellent goals to minute played ratio but Ibra performs better with Cassano alongside him.

Ibrahimovic has done himself no good to get rid of the 'Big Match Flop' tag. He has scored goals at will against the smaller clubs but he has failed to score against Juventus, AS Roma, Real Madrid and more recently Tottenham. Interestingly, Milan have lost in all of them. If yesterday's game was considered a big one, he did score the first one, only from the spot, as he did in the Milan derby. However, his presence was more lively in the derby and that could be the only big match performance he can boast about.

Tottenham showed just how poor Milan's fullbacks are. Yesterday's game showed how much other teams tactically target this weak link in the Milan team. Napoli's game plan was evidently to shift the play to the wings, more from the right side to unsettle Jankulovski who made his first start since May 2010. Maggio had a poor match, so did Dossena who struggled to get past Gattuso. On the other hand, there was little help for the Milan forwards from their fullbacks offensively. Passing was mediocre, number of crosses even lesser. The only way Milan found any sort of width was Pato and Robinho drifting on either sides. Their technical abilities covered up the weak links in this Milan team.

Looking into the positive side of things, the talking point was indeed Pato's performance. Finally, he seems to have found the form for the first time under Allegri and capped it with a fine goal.

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