MILAN 2 ROMA 1
With Barcelona coming to town on Wednesday, many would expect Max Allegri to rest a recovering Thiago Silva in the weekend game against AS Roma. Milan’s home form might not reflect their destructive nature away from home, yet it was a risk to field their best defender ahead of the midweek battle against Barcelona. Allegri took the risk and bit his tongue in the process.
Gianluca Zambrotta replaced the injured Silva, consequentially moving Bonera into the vacant slot left behind by the Brazilian. The dramatic shift in defensive personnel played no role in shaping Milan’s attack. The midfielders and forwards dictated the game, putting Roma on the back foot immediately.
Urby Emanuelson and Stephan El Shaarawy missed two goal scoring opportunities to put the game to bed. But by the thirty fifth minute, Roma were overwhelmed and overpowered by the juggernaut they had encountered on the night. This game was important for the home side, the importance of which seemed apparent in the physical activity demonstrated by the coach on the sidelines and the enthusiasm displayed by his players.
Milan played a direct style of football throughout the first half, attempting to use Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s strength against the less muscular centre backs from Rome. The Rossoneri executed this strategy with little success, but carved enough half chances to gain a well deserved lead. However, the away side tasted first blood.
A horrific clearance by Massimo Ambrosini fell into the path of Daniele De Rossi, whose shot deflected of Pablo Osvaldo to ripple the back of the net. 0-1 to the away side, silencing the Giuseppe Meazza instantly.
Gianluca Zambrotta, Milan’s right back, endured a horrid half. He got caught in possession on numerous occasions and his clearances put Milan in imminent danger repeatedly.
Christian Abbiati is becoming accustomed to making lazy clearances. His lethargic pass on the fourty-seventh minute nearly put Milan out of the game, but Francesco Totti’s arrogant chip kept the tie alive. Milan did not look like scoring from open play and were gifted a penalty due to a handball by De Rossi on the fifty third minute. Zlatan converted his eighth penalty of the season to draw the scores level. 1-1.
A host of substitutions followed. Kevin Boateng jogged onto the pitch for Urby, a change met with much cheer by the tifosi. Luis Enrique pulled a double substitution, bringing on Miralem Pjanic and Bojan for Fabio Borini and Totti.
Djamel Mesbah played an impressive half, making crucial interceptions at the back. Sulley Muntari’s persistent shooting nearly got rewarded on the seventy-third minute, but the post denied him. Enrique threw in his final substitution, going after all three points by introducing Argentine wonder-kid Eric Lamela for former Argentine wonder-kid, Fernando Gago.
Roma saw more of the ball in the second half. The passed the ball around slickly, keeping possession away from the il Diavolo . They might have snuck ahead, but the ingenious of Ibrahimovic arrived on the eighty third minute. A long-ball, well controlled, chipped over Maarten Stekelenburg and headed in before outmuscling Simon Kjaer. 2-1.
Milan beat the Italian Barcelona prototype. Three important points in the title race earned and a lead of four points maintained. Roma’s constant endeavour to emulate the Barcelona model fails repeatedly, but the result lifts Milan’s confidence ahead of the titanic match midweek.
Milan – Ibra (pen) 53’, 83’
Roma – Osvaldo 44’
Follow Rajath Kumar on twitter @rajathkumar