Cagliari vs. Milan: 5 Things We Learned
Milan managed their second consecutive win in Serie A, which is coincidentally the same time Clarence Seedorf took charge of the team.
A late comeback gave the Rossoneri a 2-1 win away at Cagliari, with goals coming from Mario Balotelli and Giampaolo Pazzini.
Milan now have 28 points in Serie A, putting them five points away from a top-five place in the standings. The good news for fans is that performances should continue to improve as the players improve their chemistry in Seedorf's 4-2-3-1.
Here are five things we learned from this Serie A match:
Pazzini Deserves to Be a Starter
Perhaps Mario Balotelli's best position isn't as a pure No. 9, as most of his damage comes from outside the box either on a set piece or a long-range rocket.
This is why he should take the role as an attacking midfielder on the left side of the 4-2-3-1, where he can create as well as be a terror from distance.
Giampaolo Pazzini should be leading the front line and give Milan a much different presence, as he's able to hold up the ball and thrives on service into the box.
Now that Pazzini is healthy, expect Seedorf to give him much more consistent playing time.
Cagliari's Stadium Situation Is Ridiculous
The pathetic situation revolving Cagliari's Sant'Elia stadium continues, as only 5000 people are allowed inside. It's no wonder that club president Massimo Cellino has had enough.
Cagliari players have had to deal with either playing behind closed doors or traveling to Trieste as a faux home ground. It's an amateur situation for a league that's trying to get back into the upper echelons of European football.
That being said, Cagliari players must be applauded for continuing to keep the squad in a mid-table position despite the circus in Sardinia.
Seedorf Getting Positive Results
Clarence Seedorf has picked up six points in his first two Serie A matches managing Milan, even though he was disappointingly knocked out of the Coppa Italia at the hands of a weak Udinese side.
It's a positive sign to see the players rallying around the new coach and showing a fighting spirit until the last minute. Both of the Rossoneri goals came in the final minutes of action, with a fantastic Mario Balotelli free kick leveling the score.
Giampaolo Pazzini had his say from a beautifully placed Keisuke Honda corner kick, as he managed to put himself in a perfect position inside the box to score.
Balotelli Still Inconsistent Despite Goal
Super Mario's bending free kick was his ninth goal of the season, but statistics don't tell the entire tale.
Balotelli has squandered too many chances in front of goal and had multiple opportunities to put Cagliari away early in the match from inside the box. The problem is that he doesn't seem to be the most natural finisher from close range, even though he has an easy time converting chances from long range.
He also seems to go down a bit too easily, and there are plenty of times that a more concerned effort in staying upright would have resulted in a dangerous opportunity for Milan.
A Top-Five Position Very Much Possible
It seemed to be a foregone conclusion that Milan would slip away from the race to get into a European spot. While the Champions League slots seem virtually unattainable, a place in the Europa League is very much possible.
Those teams are much weaker than the Rossoneri and should fall back down to earth as the season continues.
Assuming a few more wins in a row are possible, expect to see Milan in a European place by the end of February.