Balotelli strikes to rescue Milan

Posted by Sumeet Paul

When asked about the Bologna game at San Siro on Friday night, most Milan supporters will pinpoint Mario Balotelli’s stunning winner as the highlight of the game. While there is no debate over the quality of the goal and the value of another three points, the goal was undoubtedly the only highlight in what was an uninspiring performance.

Granted, minds may have wondered ahead to Atletico Madrid’s visit in mid-week in the Champions League, and considering the gap to the top three in Serie A, is there anything particularly worth playing for domestically aside from pride?

Balotelli’s moment of brilliance will be what is remembered from this game, but if you’re searching for positives from Clarence Seedorf’s first game in charge to this, there is an argument to suggest that there are signs of regression as opposed to progression.

In a game that lacked any urgency, cohesiveness and direction, it was left to Adil Rami to continue to impress in the heart of the defence, with the Frenchman seemingly growing into a leader at the back as he put in another assured performance.

His display was complimented well by Adel Taarabt at the other end of the pitch, with the January arrival at least looking to make something happen with a bit of trickery and forward thinking, while Keisuke Honda and Kaka remained anonymous throughout.

The 4-2-3-1 system is supposedly in place to allow Milan to play a more attacking brand of football, yet more often than not the ‘flair’ players keep things too simple which leads to the breakdown of play, which in turn leaves the defensive dual pivot under pressure to deal with counter-attacks.

This shouldn’t be mistaken for a criticism of Seedorf, although certain selections again were questionable with Kevin Constant preferred to Ignazio Abate, but instead there is clearly an issue in communication with the players implementing what he is asking.

The Dutch coach continues to insist in press conferences that he wants a quicker tempo with the ball and more intense pressing on the opposition without it, both were absent from Friday night’s display.

Instead, the Rossoneri were comfortable taking countless touches of the ball and slowing play down when the complete opposite was required as Bologna regrouped and did what they felt they had to do in order to leave San Siro with something to show for their efforts.

While they could have easily grabbed more but for a pair of excellent Christian Abbiati saves, it was left to Balotelli, who was again quiet aside from the goal, to save Milan with another splendid strike.

Ultimately, it perhaps comes down to expectations of this season, and whether it is possible for Seedorf to introduce a different style of play having joined mid-way through a campaign.

The coach and Adriano Galliani were seen smiling at the full-time whistle, and considering the performance it was undoubtedly a relief to secure all three points with Balotelli making the ideal statement after a difficult week.

Ending on a positive note, it was a gritty performance that ultimately proved that Milan can still obtain results when short of their best. However, let’s hope there is better to come on Wednesday night as that magical theme tune echoes around the San Siro...

For all the latest Milan and Serie A news, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty


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