Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Auguri Milan

It's official: AC Milan have won the Scudetto. With two games left to spare, a scoreless draw with Roma at Olimpico was enough for the Rossoneri to win the Serie A. This marks Milan's 18th title and first since 2004. How it happened:

Excellent transfer windows
I can't remember the last time I saw a team build up their ranks with such precision as Milan did over the summer and winter transfer windows. The unbelievable consideration for the club's needs, both in and out of the starting lineup, was proof of some smart football minds in the back office; VP Adriano Galliani in particular, and head coach Massimiliano Allegri. Saying this team has depth is pretty much an understatement.

Who they got
It started with the loan signing of Kevin-Prince Boateng in August 2010. The high energy midfielder became a staple of the team's up-tempo passing and moving. He immediately made an impact at the beginning of the season and ended up a priceless starter, eventually winning a permanent move which will be signed when this summer transfer window opens.

The next moves made by Galliani were sensational and pulled off a mere 2 days before the window closed. The signings of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho made Milan immediate Scudetto favorites and rightfully so.

Ibra had a topsy-turvy campaign in which he showed a petulant super-star attitude (not really new for him), acquiring a few red cards and consequent suspensions; but nonetheless the towering Swede notched 14 goals and was a constant threat in attack. He particularly gelled with fellow summer signings Boateng and Robinho. And remarkably, Ibrahimovic has been crowned a champion eight years in a row (3 with Juve, 3 with Inter, 1 with Barca, 1 with Milan). Everything he touches literally turns into silverware.

Now on to Robinho...some of you may recall my feelings on Robinho - I usually call him "the little baby Robinho" for crying his way out of top teams in world football. But as far as this season goes, Robinho was far from the crying toddler we once knew. The talented Brazilian got the job done. He was fantastic all year and acted as the true playmaker we know he can be. I would even venture to say he is the most valuable player in the side. No joke people!

Man love between Milan's top three signings
After seeing the stellar end to the summer in terms of signings, I didn't think Milan would go for fresh faces in January, but again, Galliani and Allegri had grander plans and some money to play with. They took advantage of Antonio Cassano's huge embarrassing fallout with Sampdoria President Riccardo Garrone and acquired him for a mere €5m Euro. Cassano's addition to the side meant added depth and relief for a Milan midfield that saw Andrea Pirlo in the treatment room more often than not throughout the season.

Mark Van Bommel was also a critical mid-season signing for the Rossoneri. He helped fill the hard-man, defensive minded midfield role left by the decline of Gennaro Gattuso and numerous injuries (and general decline) of Massimo Ambrosini. Van Bommel fit really well into Allegri's game plan and pulled many of the strings starting the attack.

The monetary assault Galliani surmised on the transfer markets, paired with Allegri's interpretation of the club's needs, clearly paid dividends. These precise buys gave Allegri the freedom and ability to best create his starting 11 in a way that would match up well with the opposing team all throughout the season. That must have been nice!

The true pedigree of a champion is in its ability to consistently get results throughout the season, winning and not losing. Milan did this to the utmost. After week 9, the Rossoneri really didn't look back, losing only twice more until capturing the title on Saturday evening.

The Milan attack was wonderful. If passing and moving is a fabric of the game, then Milan are the sweater that was knitted from this fabric. They seriously passed around their opponents and ran hard. They were pretty much the Serie A's Barcelona. Robinho ran play in the Trequarista position year round, feeding his friends and often reeling towards the sidelines after netting. Ibra scored. As usual. And contributions from player's like Alexandre Pato, who was mainly an off the bench player, were priceless.

One aspect of the Milan squad I'd like to highlight in terms of consistency is the club's defense. All year long, the Milan back-line remained stalwart. The team only gave up 23 goals throughout the season (to date), which is an incredible statistic. Who would have thought we would be saying this after club legend Paolo Maldini hung up his boots in 2009? Again, Galliani pulled off quite the feat in building a defense that would lead to their championship. The signing of Thiago Silva a few years ago was massive. He is Milan's rock. Props must also go to Daniele Bonera, Luca Antonini, Ignazio Abate, and Gianluca Zambrotta for holding it down. And we must not forget Christian Abbiati, who I consider the most underrated keeper in Italy. He is the best active Italian keeper at the moment - hands down - and had a very assured year between the pipes.

Key games
Another indicator of a true champion is how it manages big games. Milan did well. Very well. Their only two real rivals for the title this year were Inter and Napoli and they handled them with ease, going 4-0 against the pair. There were even tense "Scudetto matches," pitting Milan against 2nd place rivals who were in reaching distance, of which they beat Napoli handily a month ago, ending their Scudetto hope, and absolutely smashed Inter 3-0 in a pulsating second Derby della Madonnina, which pretty much ended anything positive from the Nerazzurri camp.

Massimiliano Allegri
At the tender age of 43, Allegri is a champion. His rise to the pinnacle began in the Serie C1 in 2007, taking him to Cagliari the following year, and finally Milan at the beginning of this past summer. Talk about leaps and bounds. His ascendance is an indicator of his smart footballing mind. He may not have the most experience, but he did a damn fine job steering the Rossoneri to the top. His tactical approach to games and knowledge of the capabilities of his squad were truly championship worthy. Well done sir.

Allegri barking out orders or yawning
In conclusion
Inter did not win this year. INTER DID NOT WIN THIS YEAR. In lieu of this information I would say it was a decent year in the Serie A.

Auguri Milan - Camponi D'Italia 2011. Oh and Sempre Forza Roma.


  1. Robinho MVP? Really? I'm sticking with Ibra.

  2. That freakin moron was suspended for like 7 games at the end of the season when his presence was needed most. And 14 goals is a decent haul but not outstanding.

  3. my MVP is Abbiati. he was making amazing saves all season.
    also, it's a shame that Inzaghi was injured most of the season. we would've seen some more excellent goals from him if he wasn't. I still think he's better than Cassano and Robinho.