AC Milan's Title Challenge Stutters Again Despite Ibrahimovic's Brilliance

Frank TiganiCorrespondent IJanuary 17, 2011

LECCE, ITALY - JANUARY 16:  Ruben Olivera of Lecce celebrates after scoring the goal 1-1 during the Serie A match between Lecce and Milan at Stadio Via del Mare on January 16, 2011 in Lecce, Italy.  (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)
Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

In a round where Inter continued their impressive winning streak, along with wins for Juventus, Lazio and Roma, Milan again stuttered as they could only earn a point away to Lecce.

In truth, Max Allegri’s side did not deserve any more than a point. Despite possessing arguably the best attacking force in the league, Milan failed to create chances and needed an absolute wonder strike by Ibrahimovic to find a breakthrough.

Perhaps in response to conceding four goals last week against Udinese, Allegri set out a defensive looking side with a midfield comprised of Massimo Ambrosini, Gennaro Gattuso and Mathieu Flamini.

With a midfield full of ball winners, Milan were able to dominate possession, but consequently failed to create chances. In front of the midfield three Clarence Seedorf was responsible for being the creative link between the midfield and attack.

Yet, not surprisingly, the Dutchman was extremely poor.  The Milan No. 10 has put in so many poor displays this season that it is a mystery as to how he still commands a starting berth.

Much blame must be laid upon Max Allegri. In addition to his decision to field Clarence Seedorf from the start, his delay to introduce Antonio Cassano in order to protect the slender one goal advantage that Ibra’s wonder strike provided was costly.

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Instead of keeping the same defensive formation after seeing his side take the lead, Cassano should have been introduced in a bid to help Milan find a second goal, which would surely have put lowly Lecce out of the contest.

Only with 20 minutes remaining did Allegri introduce Cassano, but he did so by replacing Pato instead of the completely ineffective Seedorf.

Of further concern for Milan was the performance of Alessandro Nesta. The former Italian international looked uncharacteristically shaky at the back, giving the ball away on numerous occasions and being caught out of position on the odd occasion too. Along with Seedorf, Nesta was perhaps one of Milan’s poorest performers. Daniele Bonera did not impress either, but this is almost always a given.

On a positive note, Ignazio Abate again proved that he is the best of the Milan full backs. Sound in defence, the young Italian also got forward to good effect too.

Next week Milan face Cesena at home, the side that shocked Milan earlier in the season with a two nil victory. Allegri will have to throw caution to the wind as his side needs victory to get their title challenge back on track.

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