AC Milan vs Real Madrid | Preview
This is no David vs Goliath kind of a game. Its more of a David on David or a Goliath on Goliath kind of a match up cause these two are equally big names. When Real Madrid face AC Milan in a European night at San Siro it just cannot get better. The two giants are statistically the top two teams in Europe and possess several of the top players of the past, present and the future. With this build up I go into tonight’s post where I will be previewing tonight’s clash at the San Siro between these two heavyweights (lightweights in case you feel its a David vs David kind of a game).
Jose Mourinho leads his troops into the city of Milan knowing that it is one battlefield where Madrid have never tasted victory. To put it straight Real Madrid have never won at the San Siro in 13 attempts. In fact ten of the games have ended in defeat. But then again, Milan have an equally poor field record against Mourinho’s teams losing eight out of the eight times that they have previously met over the past three years. But its an all new playing field tonight. History does not matter and neither do statistics. All that would matter is how ready the teams are to take advantage of the mistakes made by the other.
Mourinho spoke of Real’s poor record at the San Siro during yesterday’s press conference saying:
The fact that Real Madrid have never won in San Siro doesn’t add pressure. This is a hard place to play and win in. Madrid has had great teams and has not won. This is a tough field. TheTifosi help their team a lot. I am sure Milan fans are worried because Real Madrid can win here. We can win. It will be a great match; perhaps the most watched on European televisions. And the referee is fantastic. We are all obligated to perform well.
YES WE CAN. And if we do then the two games left in this phase of the competition would be dead rubber as Real would already be through as Group Leaders. But JM insists that shouldn’t be the case.
If we qualify for the next round tomorrow, some coaches may believe that the next two matches are not important and that they can put the Champions League on hold until February. Real Madrid is always required to play its best. We cannot play those next two matches thinking that we have taken care of business.
Milan on the other hand need a win tonight and possibly on the next match day as well. They are just coming out a loss against Juventus in the weekend in what was an important tie with respect to their title race. But Massimiliano Allegri insists when a team like Milan loses the criticism is almost ensured. This came from a man who has even fewer Champions League games in his pocket than Tottenham Hotspurs have:
We lost an important game in the league, but we had won the previous four. It’s OK to emphasise the fact when a team like Milan lose, and of course we can improve on many things, but there are also many positive signs that make me optimistic. This is a strong group of players, playing at a good level, so we have everything needed to win. We have to keep Real Madrid under pressure – we can’t repeat the technical mistakes we made in the first leg.
And under pressure we shall be. Returning from injury from them are key players like Massimo Ambrosini, Thiago Silva and Ronaldinho who can possibly make a difference. And Sergio Ramos was quick to acknowledge the talent that Milan possessed in their ranks and the difference that they could make. Speaking to the press ahead of the clash, the right back who missed the previous tie with the Rossoneri said:
No one questions the talent of players like Ronaldinho or Robinho. They are game-breakers, but I am more concerned about the entire squad. They have very talented and experienced players. We all have so much at stake.
AC MILAN SQUAD LIST:
Goalkeepers: Christian Abbiati, Marco Amelia;
Defenders: Luca Antonini, Marek Jankulovski, Alessandro Nesta, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Thiago Silva, Gianluca Zambrotta, Mario Yepes;
Midfielders: Ignazio Abate, Massimo Ambrosini, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Mathieu Flamini, Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf;
Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Filippo Inzaghi, Alexandre Pato, Robinho, Ronaldinho.
As far as the absentees are concerned Massimo Oddo has been ruled out for four to six weeks after sustaining a left thigh problem in training on Friday. Daniele Bonera was replaced before half-time in their game against Juventus after picking up a knock to his left shin.
Like me Jose too does not care about the way they will come at us. But come at us they will with all the vengeance that their old bodies can muster. In the previous tie they preferred to use their old warhorses against our young guns and paid for it dearly. This time I am sure that will change. Thiago Silva will probably play and he should if you ask me. This is the time of the season when we need to be challenged and this is time to prove ourselves to the rest of the world. If I were to be Allegri, I’d play all the four Brazilians along with Ibrahimobitch and Captain Planet and the Planeteers and bring in the Swat Kats if I must to try and stop Real from giving my team a footballing lesson. But hell Allegri is not all that smart or at least doesn’t seem that way.
Amidst all this Sergio Ramos also spoke about Karim Benzema (a topic which I have covered enough about) and Howard Webb as well who will be officiating the game. Ramos called him his lucky charm but I am not sure Xabi Alonso would agree with his fellow Spaniard. The last time Alonso and Webb were on the same field Alonso almost left with a broken rib courtesy Dangerous De Jong. I sure hope we return with nothing less than tired legs back home. An injury at this point of the season can cripple the team’s form.
Talking about injuries, (in what could possibly be a move to unsettle Milan’s tactics devised by none other than Professor X himself) Angel Di Maria, I heard, apparently faced a late fitness test to determine whether or not he was fit to play tonight. The high-flying Argentine apparently suffered a bruised knee in training on Monday but was included in the squad as the coach was confident that he would recover in time. Pedro Leon or Karim Benzema were touted as being his replacements in case he had failed to recover in time.
The only ones still injured are Kaka, Garay and Gago. The latter is almost fine again as he trained with the squad on Monday. Lass, who had been injured for the past few weeks, is fine once again. But the Frenchman has not travelled with the side as Mourinho insisted that players not fit enough for a weekend game cannot be fit for a midweek clash. The rest 21 have all made the cut.
REAL MADRID SQUAD LIST:
Goalkeepers: Casillas, Dudek, Adan.
Defenders: Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Albiol, Marcelo, Mateos, Carvalho.
Midfielders: Khedira, Alonso, Ozil, Diarra, Canales, Granero, Pedro Leon, Di Maria.
Forwards: Benzema, Higuain, Cristiano Ronaldo.
I am confident that Real will be playing the same formation as they have been playing till this point of the season – the 4-2-3-1 convertible. But what can possibly change is who plays and who doesn’t. Knowing Mourinho I don’t think there will be any but something tells me that Arbeloa might just get a game. Apart from that I don’t think there will be any changes to the side. Ozil, Di Maria and Ronaldo should give their defense a handful and hopefully get the better of the Milanese cunts.
Moving on and in case you didn’t already know Ruben De la Red has officially retired from all forms of the game and will take up a coaching role with the side. The player had remained optimistic of eventually making a return to the game, but Marca reports today that De La Red has accepted a coaching role at the club until his contract expires. Reports suggest that Florentino Perez had promised De La Red that the club would not leave him after the incident against Real Union, and now as promised the club have given him a role which can develop his coaching abilities alongside Jose Mourinho and Castilla boss Alejandro Menendez. De La Red’s position is thought help him to progress into working with one of the youth teams at the club and help players progress through the ranks. Sad but I am happy for the player. He was arguably one of the best midfielders that Castilla had ever produced and definitely would have played a vital role in the team if not for the condition that he suffers from.
And that brings this post to an end.
Hoping for a Real win.
Until next time,
Para Siempre Blanco!