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Tracking AC Milan Player Performance in World Cup Group Stage

Anthony LopopoloFeatured ColumnistJune 17, 2014

Tracking AC Milan Player Performance in World Cup Group Stage

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    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    AC Milan had one of their worst seasons in decades, and yet they still sent seven players to the 2014 World Cup.

    Milan players don't usually make up a large percentage of the Italian national team, but they have three potential starters in the lineup, leading with Mario Balotelli.

    The former Manchester City man scored the winner against England, and after the game, he flashed the 2-1 score on camera with his hands.

    "We are strong and everyone should fear us," Balotelli told FIGC.it (h/t Sky Sports).

    Nations also represented are the Netherlands, Japan and Ghana. Over the next couple of weeks, we will assess the performance of these Milan players. Return to this page for updates. 

Ignazio Abate

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    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    Matteo Darmian, a former AC Milan player and product, was favoured over Ignazio Abate at the right-back position against England.

    Abate is certainly the most experienced player in that position for Italy, but coach Cesare Prandelli must decide if he wants to sacrifice the very impressive Darmian. 

Mario Balotelli

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    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    Before scoring the winner against England, Mario Balotelli did not look too interested in the game as Italy struggled to find him. In fact, he only had one other shot on goal, according to WhoScored.com.

    Balotelli has played 73 minutes so far in the tournament. 

Nigel De Jong

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    Wong Maye-E/Associated Press

    At one point, Nigel de Jong was playing the peacemaker between another Dutch player and a Spaniard in Friday's meeting between the two nations.

    It was a far cry from the scenes of the 2010 World Cup final, when he delivered a swift kick to the midsection of Xabi Alonso.

    With that being said, De Jong was still a menacing figure.

    Deze foto zegt alles @NDJ_Official 💪 pic.twitter.com/XzqkibTz52

    — Demy de Zeeuw (@DemydeZeeuw) June 14, 2014

Mattia De Sciglio

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    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    Mattia De Sciglio strained his calf in one of Italy's first training sessions in Rio and subsequently missed the opening match.

    De Sciglio has since rejoined the squad in full training.

    Team doctor Enrico Castellacci told reporters on Monday, per The Guardian, "there is no date yet for his return." 

Michael Essien

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Michael Essien entered the match against the U.S. as a substitute in the 71st minute, and Ghana scored through Andre Ayew shortly after.

    Perhaps the intention was to catch the Americans when they were exhausted, but of course in the end they found the late winner and beat Ghana for the first time in three World Cups. 

Keisuke Honda

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    Ricardo Mazalan/Associated Press

    Keisuke Honda scored his 23rd goal in 57 appearances for Japan in the opener against Ivory Coast.

    It was his third World Cup goal.

    He was back to playing in a free-roaming central position with his country, a role in which he thrives.

    Honda did not have that luxury in half a season with AC Milan. He was often pushed to the periphery, playing on the wings.

Sulley Muntari

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    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    Sulley Muntari took an obligatory shot from afar, and he almost strangled Jermaine Jones of the U.S.

    Closer to the end of the game, Muntari picked up a yellow card—his 12th of the year for club and country.

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