Thursday February 20 2014
Rossoneri rebuild taking shape

Milan’s defeat to Atletico Madrid shows they may still lack a winning mentality but their performance hints at a brighter future, argues Richard Thomas.

The end result of last night’s captivating Champions League encounter between Milan and Atletico Madrid at San Siro provided a good indicator of where the two teams involved currently stand in the European footballing hierarchy.

The home side, despite playing well, committed football’s cardinal sin of failing to convert their pressure and chances into that all important commodity - goals. They then conceded a late winner at the other end and it is now difficult to see them turning the tie around in the second leg, after which their absence from European football next season will likely be confirmed. A long rebuilding project lies ahead for new Rossoneri Coach Clarence Seedorf.

Their Spanish visitors meanwhile won a match in which they were far from at their best for long spells, a classic sign of a good team according to so many. Any side that can last the blistering pace in La Liga set by Barcelona and Real Madrid for 24 League games is clearly a highly accomplished one and Diego Simeone has instilled a real winning mentality into Atleti. The sort of winning mentality that Seedorf will need to replicate if he is to return the Rossoneri to the heights that enabled him to twice win Europe’s premier club competition while playing for the club.

As mentioned though, it is far from being all bad news as Seedorf’s men produced a performance last night that belied their highly mediocre domestic season to date and provided genuine hope for the future. The Diavolo, particularly in the first half, played with an intensity, hunger and skill that has been conspicuous by its absence for large parts of the season and helped bring about the recent sacking of former Coach Max Allegri.

The San Siro crowd was also in fine voice and fed off this much improved display by their team. Mario Balotelli was lively and caused the away defence problems before eventually being forced off with a shoulder injury. Adel Taarabt was promising on his European debut, Ricky Kaka went close on more than one occasion and Michael Essien was industrious in midfield. Had it not been for the form of away goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who produced one particularly excellent save to deny Andrea Poli, the home side could well be contemplating taking a lead to the Vicente Calderon for the second leg.

As it is, Seedorf will be left to pick the bones out of what is ultimately a disappointing defeat. Nevertheless, it came with the silver lining of a much improved performance and the Dutchman remained defiant about his team’s chances of turning the tie on its head and progressing to the quarter-finals.

“I say the players and fans have every right to be optimistic and to believe,” he commented immediately after the game. “I’m so proud at their hard work, the willingness to learn and the unity, which was behind all my success in my career. Even if there are harsh words occasionally, they are done with positive intentions. These are the foundations on which to build some great football.”

Even if the Rossoneri, as expected, fall short of overturning their deficit in a fortnight’s time, it is these foundations to which Seedorf alludes that will determine in the long term whether his tenure at San Siro is to be a success or failure. He has made all the right noises so far, promising relentless attacking football ‘with five strikers’, and last night’s match, despite the result, was a clear sign that they are beginning to head in the right direction.

Have your say...
Viktor's secret

The irony of you calling me dumb when you have not yet grasped basic english writing skills. You obviously are bothered hence why you give a fish example. Learn what plural means you idiot.

How did i know you would mention SES. He is so promising milan tried to sell him to land Tevez right. You don't win trophies with youngsters. Barca are an exception.

Stop being a sheep. Form your own view, although i accept you are cognitively challenged.
on the 26th February, 2014 at 2:51pm

Lol, i really don't pay attention to gramma no spelling when writing a post on a football blog so calm down big guy. And no you don't always need to add an "S". Look up one fish many fishes.

There are several great promising Italian player, I'm stunned by the fact you're(!!) not aware of these.

Try Veratti, De Scgilio, SES, Insigne, Immobile, Destro,Nicola Leali, Manolo Gabbiadini,Fabio Borini

Now go away.
on the 25th February, 2014 at 6:07pm

A few pointers. It's you're*. When there is more then one you need to add an 'S' on the end. I know you think highly of me, but no need to call me Jesus.

Do you act completely stupid on purpose? Who are these promising youngsters? Maldini was a youngster and he played because he was good. The youngsters in Italy ATM are not played because they are not good enough. Giovinco, Immobile, Foggia, Santon, SES. That is a short list of your alleged great youngsters. Anyone else of note?
on the 25th February, 2014 at 2:26pm

suppose to say "any other country" not language.
on the 24th February, 2014 at 8:31pm

Did you just say Italian teams dont have promising youngster? Let me tell you something since your UTTERLY clueless atm, Italian team have more promising youngster then any other language atm. Jesus, are you even watching football??
on the 24th February, 2014 at 7:43pm
italian teams keep pleading poverty and come across as beggars. If the situation is that dire and they are beggars, they had better go through the rich teams' garbage. Man city don't want Dzeko. Sign him. Chelsea didnt want Mata. Should have signed him. Man u didnt want Vidic. Why the hell have inter, one of the most hopeless "BIG" italian teams, signed him?
on the 24th February, 2014 at 2:56pm
i also observe the sustained repetitive "bring in the yougnsters" argument in this blog. SHUT UP. This is not flipping Arsenal or Barcelona. It is AC Milan. The youngsters Ac Milan have are not similar to the british and spanish. They lack physical strength. Milan and all italian teams need to use their brain and buy players that are proven. I would be hunting around big teams looking to offload, like man city, chelsea and madrid.
on the 24th February, 2014 at 2:51pm
Im from england and it is evident people on this blog are puppets and will believe anything they read.

Another boring rhetoric about milan "having hope for the future". Can you define what length of time the future is. Because it certainly is not the next ten years. I think hell might have to freeze over before milan become competitive again. No money, stupid decision making, rookie coach, garbage players.

Recipe for a great future LOL, muppets.
on the 24th February, 2014 at 2:45pm
I wanted to give Galliani the benefit of the doubt after his many years of good service, but he lost me at 12 million for Matri; Juve turning around and buying Tevez for only 10 was the final nail.
on the 23rd February, 2014 at 3:09am
Ok it's seems we're all agreed. Viktor I think you're on your own! Fingers and toes crossed Galliani's gone this summer and we start signing a goal keeper and defenders this summer!
on the 22nd February, 2014 at 7:34pm
It's so infuriating to keep reading new reports, day after day, linking Milan with yet MORE attackers, and rumors of Balo/El Shaarawy being on the way out...pull your heads out of the sand! The defense is in major need of reinforcement, and the attacking half of the squad needs to be cut down. Lose the dead weight like Birsa, Robinho, etc.; bring back Niang to play with Balo/ElSha, blood in Cristante, Petagna, Saponara, etc...the attacking talent is already there, but being horribly utilized.
on the 22nd February, 2014 at 5:13pm
@Great point MM! Milan's Serie A season is pretty much over. It is the perfect opportunity to blood several youngsters & give them a sustained run in the team. Let's face it, Milan cannot get much worse: impotent in attack, too many sideways passes in midfield, & a leaky defense. Cristante's exclusion really bugs me. He gives the team another dimension with his vertical passes & shooting ability.
on the 22nd February, 2014 at 11:07am
I do think that, if you are going to stick with Kaka (who has been very good), then let him play where he needs to play: the hole. Playing him in a 4-3-3 does not help, as he has less freedom to roam (better than anyone) and he's lost dynamism in tight situations. Playing him in the hole is better for him and it allows more freedom for Taarabt...not to mention Pioli behind him. If you go 4-3-3 you need two true and all-around DM's, able to move the ball up, and maintain Kaka in the hole.
on the 21st February, 2014 at 8:16pm
The squad needs to be cut. Id go so far as saying every player they brought in the last year can go back where they started, Honda, essien etc etc.. I see no benefit from the endless list overate players. We knew our season was over months ago so now would have been prime time to get the promising youngster in and playing. Instead we are making overated players waste more time and put us back in the same situation next year. I see no positive from CL game- we lost! WE cant score, we cant defend!
on the 21st February, 2014 at 5:09pm
@ udo you'll have seen my thoughts on Santon.Just because Abate is currently in the national team competing with Maggio (???) for RB does not mean he's good enough for a Milan who hopefully one day will have a decent defence.He has made so many mistakes over the years (his miscontrol in the derby, the game against Napoli and now Atletico) every game he seems to get caught out.Before I gave him the benefit of the doubt because he was Milan but i've been saying for a while he should move to the RW
on the 21st February, 2014 at 4:09pm
I would love to see a blog on the Primavera set up generally (obviously particularly interested in Milan). My concern is that Milan are becoming as bad as Inter. Where exactly are Cristante and Petagna going to fit in if we keep signing CMs and attackers? And what hope for Mastour? We currently have 3 trequartistas!That's why I'd like to see us cut down the squad and give youth players a chance. If Milan are signing players they need to be world class or potential world class or there's no point
on the 21st February, 2014 at 3:22pm
@ Daniel Giambrone I tend to agree. Full backs no longer seem to be able to defend. I've seen De Sciglio caught out on the back post and with balls between the CB and FB a few times. He needs to improve his defensive game. His crossing is phenominal. I've always had a soft spot for Santon since he had so much quality when he burst on the scene at 17/18 and at Newcastle he has shown he's prepared to knuckle down. I think the only reason he's stuggled is because he grew up in Inter's youth team
on the 21st February, 2014 at 3:19pm
Not a blog on Balo but can I just tell Frank Lebouef to lay off (please feel free to swap "lay" with an expletive). What exactly did he do wrong on Wednesday night? So now he doesn't want to leave the pitch and that's a bad thing? Seriously this is the stuff that you read about all the time. He cannot do anything right in some people's mind. If hadn't gone off then he would faking his shoulder injury because he did eventually and is out for 10 days he should've gone off sooner?
on the 21st February, 2014 at 1:53pm fb's. This is why it think that Regini is an interesting prospect. Whilst on the subject prospects, it would be nice to see FI do a feature on Milan's primavera side; profiling some of their brightest talents. I really hope that many of these youngsters get a fair opportunity with the senior side. This is my great hope with Seedorf, given his history with Ajax.
on the 21st February, 2014 at 1:26pm
@Maldini's Heir, TBH I struggle to think of any full-backs that are strong defenders (maybe Chiellini & Ramos when fielded in those positions). Players like Lahm & Alves who are regarded as the worlds finest, are much better at attacking than defending. De Sciglio & Shaw are very promising & have plenty time to hone their defensive game. It was interesting to see Roma playing Romagnoli at right back the other evening: maybe that's another solution, converting cb's-with technical ability-to tbc
on the 21st February, 2014 at 1:20pm
Well said, spot on.
on the 21st February, 2014 at 1:12pm
@maldini's heir: antonelli and santon cant even get into the squadra and u'll sacrifice abate (a starter) for them? Anyways, abate needs to improve as a player.
on the 21st February, 2014 at 9:50am
@ pippo I agree you to a certain degree. The problem is how do you play Honda, kaka, balo and pazzo? Where SES and tarabat fit in in all this is beyond me! And where does Saponara come in? We've got too many attackers which is why some play out of position.
on the 21st February, 2014 at 9:38am
I completely disagree with this article.This is no rebuild.This is another attempt at making quick fixes.Kaka has done well this season but the whole idea of turning to him was wrong with Honda and Saponara coming into the squad.Paloschi,Niang,Saponara,Cristante,Vergara,Gabriel are not being given chances despite this being a transition season.Milan are being poorly managed and will continue to fall unless they start from scratch.
on the 21st February, 2014 at 9:38am
Abate is woeful, i have always said. That header is unforgivable.
on the 21st February, 2014 at 1:22am
Milan showed there is no lack of quality in the squad,just poor management.Balotelli always plays better with Pazzini by his side yet it rarely happens.Honda is always played out of position.Countless injuries.Promising youngsters like Niang,Saponara,Cristante,Poli,Vergara,Gabriel are being cast out for Bonera,Mexes,Essien,Muntari,Robinho,Birsa,..etc. Milan need to offload at least 10 players in the summer and invest in youth coz they can't afford to buy Champions for the time being.
on the 20th February, 2014 at 11:53pm
As has been typical of milan the last few seasons, we can't defend. A failure of the club to buy decent defenders - Bonera continues to get into the team week after week - enough said. Sort that out and this is a decent team. No point attacking all the time - you need to be able to defend too. Milan was always excellent at getting the balance right in the past but not so in recent years under Allegri
on the 20th February, 2014 at 8:57pm
@ Daniel Giambrone I probably agree with about Abate but maybe I'm a little bit biased. He does do well knocking the ball passed someone and crossing it. He has set up goals over the years with his crosses. He cannot defend though. In reality I think you're probably right. We certainly need a LB (I'd take any of Santon/Antonelli/Caldirola/Filipe Luís). I don't particularly want to see Poli or Saponara moved to the wing to accomodate unnecessary signings like Essien and Honda!
on the 20th February, 2014 at 7:21pm
@Maldini's Heir, Abate just doesn't the quality to play as a winger: average technique, cannot see a pass, average end product, cannot dribble, & lacks composure. He has pace and is a willing runner but that's about it. I'd like to see Milan sign Antonelli (or Regini) for the LB slot & make De Sciglio their first choice RB. Saponara could do a job on the flanks.
on the 20th February, 2014 at 5:23pm
This was Milan's best performance of the season, they deserved to win so well done to the players and mostly to Seedorf. I had my doubts but so far, so good.
on the 20th February, 2014 at 3:53pm

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.