AC Milan Cannot Play With Four Attackers

James RiggioContributor ISeptember 6, 2010

Pato and Ronaldinho will be able to cotinue to work their magic together, but not at the same time with Robinho.
Pato and Ronaldinho will be able to cotinue to work their magic together, but not at the same time with Robinho.Dino Panato/Getty Images

It is certainly a great time for AC Milan fans as the club appears to have had a recharge of its batteries following the acquisitions of forwards Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho to join Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato up front in the Rossoneri attack.

The question some are suggesting is whether or not all four can play at the same time.

Coach Massimiliano Allegri may experiment with this idea. And if he does, he will soon find out it will not work.

AC Milan can play three of the four at one time, but not all four. A number of Italian soccer analysts have looked at different possible formations for a standard starting Rossoneri lineup. Some have included all four, but others have not.

I agree with those that do not have all four because the defensive abilities of the three Brazilian attacking midfielders in a proposed 4-2-3-1 setup are not strong enough to help the Milan duo that would be responsible for orchestrating the heart of the midfield.

Robinho and Pato are two of the most talented ball dribblers in the world. But neither has shown the ability to drift back and work as a defender to support the middle duo, which is playmaker Andrea Pirlo and captain Massimo Ambrosini, who is a pure defensive midfielder.

This scenario could work if Clarence Seedorf were one of the attacking midfielders, as he is a hybrid player since he is strong both offensively and defensively. Kevin Prince Boateng might also be able to make this possible, as he appears be the player the club hopes is the new Seedorf.

Also, this would take away from utilizing Pirlo’s best abilities and make him into a pure defender, for which he is not. AC Milan’s offense has been orchestrated by Andrea Pirlo for a number of years now and that should not change.

This is not the first time in recent memory that AC Milan has encountered a similar scenario. Back in 2002-03, the club had four players for three spots with Portuguese attacking midfielder Rui Costa, Ukrainian forward Andriy Shevchenko, Brazilian attacking midfielder Rivaldo, and Italian center forward Filippo Inzaghi.

Ironically, the cast member who was voted off first ended up being the one few expected to be as Rivaldo found more time on the bench than the others. Injuries and perhaps a lack of willingness to contribute defensively prompted Rivaldo to appear just 22 times in a Rossoneri uniform.

The standard formation the Rossoneri need to go with is the Christmas tree one. A 4-3-2-1 makes the most sense or a very similar 4-3-1-2.

Milan has Alessandro Nesta and Thiago Silva who have cemented their names as starters in the center of the defense and the vast improvement over the past year of Luca Antonini appears to have made him the obvious choice for the left side of the defense. The club is deep enough in the right back role that it has as many as five candidates for the spot.

With two defensive minded midfielders surrounding Pirlo, Allegri can choose two of the three Brazilians in the attacking midfield role with Ibrahimovic up front, backed up by Inzaghi. Pato and or Robinho can also be paired up front with Ibrahimovic if needed.

The recent additions to the squad could give fans hope that a pattern is starting to develop. Since the club won the UEFA Champions League in 2003 and 2007, it would need to win once again this year to continue the cycle.

Former longtime Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti has realized patterns and has already stated he hopes to coach Italy in the 2030 World Cup, since the Azzurri have developed a pattern of appearing in a World Cup final every 12 years and winning one every 24.

This season may very well be the one in which the Rossoneri create one of their own.