Ghost of Jose Mourinho Haunts Milan

by Robert Hay on October 20, 2010 · 7 comments

Yesterday was a bad day for Serie A in the Champions League.  Roma lost 3-1 at home to FC Basel to fall into last place in Group E, but level on points with Basel and Cluj.  But the big story of the night was AC Milan's first trip back to the Bernabeu since their shock 3-2 victory there last year.

This year's trip was quite different, and the major difference was the two men on the sidelines.  Jose Mourinho, now the manager of Real Madrid, got a chance to face an opponent he almost owned in Serie A over the past few years.  And his managerial expertise and genius was seen from kickoff.  Madrid dominated action for the first twenty minutes and consistently threatened the Milan goal, scoring twice in the first fifteen minutes.

The first goal was part Ronaldo's skill, part Milan failure.  After Alexandre Pato made a poor challenge outside the box that was called, Ronaldo drilled the free-kick into the corner in an absolutely brilliant shot through a Milan wall.  Replays showed, however, that the gap was created by Clarence Seedorf stepping back and a few teammates pivoting away from the shot.  About sixty seconds later Madrid added a second goal.  Mesut Ozil's quality chance inside the area was put into the net by deflecting off of Daniele Bonera's head as keeper Amelia watched from the ground.

Milan, while having a few chances throughout the match, was generally dominated by Madrid.  Coming in everyone knew that Madrid had only allowed three goals this season, and they showed their prowess by limiting Milan to only a few legitimate chances to score.  Allegri is rightly receiving criticism from Milan fans for his lineup with eschewed defense and looked to score as often as possible.  That meant starting Seedorf and Ronaldinho, as well as Ibrahimovic, Pato and Pirlo.  Ronaldinho, while a few times looking quality, was generally a non-factor, while Pato played a poor match and Ibrahimovic was shut down by the defense.  Seedorf, in addition to creating a hole in the wall in the fourteenth minute, had an open chance later in the first half that he completely botched.  Allegri looked lost in this match while Mourinho again put out a perfect lineup and his club had the better gameplan.

So Milan is back to the drawing board but still has three points in Group G.  Today's Champions League match is a real treat as Tottenham travels to Milan to face Inter in a match that has some interesting storylines.  It is up to Rafa's club to prevent Serie A from going 0-3 in the Champions League this week.

7 comments… read them below or add one

1 Ewan Smith October 20, 2010 at 12:17 pm

I think the Madrid vs Milan game shows the growing gap between Italian football compared to Spain and England. Milan have spent money in the summer, but they have lots of older players they need to start replacing before they can make any advances in Europe. Milan’s older players have the experience and skill to perform on a regular basis every week in Serie A, and will probably be challenging for the league at the end of the season, but there is a lot of changes to be made before they can be the force in Europe they once were. As for my beloved Roma? Where do you start in your analysis? Every goal the conceded against Basel was a great goal, but every goal can be stopped. I don’t know how much Ranieri can do to strengthen the defence with the players he has, but I am worried for his position as manager.


2 Robert October 20, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Ewan -

I didn’t have a chance to watch the Roma match, so I didn’t want to dive too deeply into it.

I also don’t know if I’d point out Madrid’s win as a definite sign of La Liga being better than Serie A. On this night (this night being last night) Madrid was definitely the better team. They were better prepared, better coached, and executed better. I don’t disagree that Milan looked old at times, but I would say wait until a few more rounds to see who’s still standing before we begin to say which is a better league this year.


3 Rami S. October 20, 2010 at 5:05 pm

I knew Milan would suffer before the match even started because they lack balance with aging components in midfield and defensively (Seedorf, Pirlo, Nesta, Zambrotta) while the management made the mistake of bringing in more forwards!

Milan is getting closer to the original Los Galacticos era when Real bought attacking stars and won little. Milan need to get younger, solid defenders and at least one more midfielder.


4 Rami S. October 20, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Interesting comments which I’ve heard a lot in recent years but they are not very accurate. Last season, other than Barca and Real, the closest team was about 25 points away (I think Valencia in 3rd place). Italy’s league is more competitive. Check this piece I wrote for more details:

As for Milan, one must note a few clear things: the coach Allegri isn’t exactly a great one, the defensive line is cracking and aging (Zambrotta, Nesta), and the team lacks balance. The management signed Robinho and Ibrahimovic but instead should have brought just Ibra and signed a quality defender.

This will give you a better idea on Milan:


5 David H October 21, 2010 at 1:22 am

I’m not even sure there’s anyone at Roma who could fire Ranieri (not that I want that to happen.) Do the banks let Rosella make those decisions? Regardless, it would be foolish to let him go. You don’t become a bad coach overnight. He’s had an amazing amount of injuries, plus Burdisso not arriving until the trade deadline.

As for Milan, I wouldn’t count out any team that has an in-form Pirlo. Surely Allegri knows it’s defense he needs to work on. Unless Silvio is holding him back, making him play all 4 together, Milan should be there ’til the end like they (almost) were last season.

And who cares which is the stronger league? I don’t. I find Serie A & the Bundesliga to be highly entertaining, which is enough for me. If other people like the violent brutality of England, or the lopsided La Liga, good for them.


6 Ewan Smith October 21, 2010 at 11:05 am

The point I was making had nothing to do with the entertainment of the leagues because I find England, Spain and Italy entertaining in different ways and wouldn’t want to get into an argument about which is better because everyone has different interests in football and each league has it’s strengths and weaknesses. But in the modern game, with the tempo and skill that is required, Inter Milan seem like the only Italian team capable of doing anything in the Champions League and I strongly agree with the points Rami has made above.


7 Ewan Smith October 25, 2010 at 1:49 pm

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