The old adage about there being ‘no I in team’ doesn’t necessarily hold sway when one man has to carry an entire squad on his back. On Saturday we saw examples of this at the Juventus Stadium and the San Paolo, where Lazio sat back and hoped for the best from Federico Marchetti – which they certainly got – and Milan were once again dragged out of the gutter by 20-year-old Stephan El Shaarawy.
Marchetti’s performance in goal for the Biancocelesti was simply stunning. While Gigi Buffon was off getting a cup of tea and catching up on his Sudoku, Marchetti was flying right, left and under the crossbar to deny everything Juventus could throw at him. Admittedly, when you have 21 shots on goal and still end 0-0, something has to be said about the Bianconeri strikers. However, some of their efforts really would have secured victory on any other day against any other goalkeeper.
It’s remarkable that Marchetti is still ignored by Cesare Prandelli for international duty when he is regularly more reliable – and younger – than Morgan De Sanctis. He had a bad 2010 World Cup for Italy, but who didn’t? I hope we don’t regularly see this sort of Lazio approach away from home, as it reminded me of their Europa League goalless draw against Tottenham.
Milan are increasingly a one-man show, or at least a one-boy show, seeing as El Shaarawy only just turned 20. The Little Pharaoh has already netted the 10 Serie A goals that will see Massimo Ambrosini pay up on the pre-season bet with an all-expenses paid vacation in the Caribbean, but there’s more to his contribution than that. Every time the Rossoneri are plunging into the darkness, they send out an SOS for SES to come to the rescue. Maybe he can keep the team afloat until the rest of them form some sort of unit, but it’s a very risky approach to rely so heavily on one striker, especially one so inexperienced.
El Shaarawy has shown himself to be truly remarkable both on and off the field. After scoring a sensational brace at the San Paolo, he dedicated his goals to Christian Abbiati, embarrassed by a Gokhan Inler snapshot in the opening five minutes. He has the wisdom of the Pharaohs too. After all, Tutankhamen became The Boy King of Egypt at the age of 10...