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It was another false start for Serie A's reigning kings, with the Rossoneri's display providing reason for consternation just four days before their visit to Catalunya

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By Kris Voakes at San Siro

In becoming the ninth team in 12 years to lift the Scudetto in May but then drop two points on opening day, AC Milan will hardly panic about what their 2-2 draw with Lazio has done for their title hopes, but the rag-tag nature of the display does not bode well for their Champions League date with Barcelona at Camp Nou on Tuesday.

From back to front, there were sincere signs of lethargy as the champions slumped to an early two-goal deficit and handed the Biancocelesti plenty more chances to take the full three points from the 2011-12 Serie A opener.

Alessandro Nesta twice switched off and was punished as Lazio threatened to make it a nightmare start for the home side, but while goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Antonio Cassano soon had Milan level, and Cassano later hit the foot of the post, it could well have got worse for Massimiliano Allegri’s side.

MILAN 2-2 LAZIO | Match Facts
Stat
Shots
On target
Possession
Offsides
Milan
14
8
59.9%
7
Lazio
12
5
40.1%
0

Only Thiago Silva and Ignazio Abate can really claim to have given their best out of those who donned the red and black. Elsewhere, there was complacency aplenty.

Christian Abbiati spilled one easy shot which Miroslav Klose somehow contrived to miss on the follow-up before charging out to Djibril Cisse and missing everything. Nesta and Gennaro Gattuso’s clumsy collision resulted in the midfielder limping off, while Luca Antonini turned in another very unconvincing display at left-back. Alberto Aquilani took far too long getting a shot away when the score was still 0-0, and Massimo Ambrosini and Mark van Bommel spent too much time watching and not enough time tackling as Lazio zipped the ball forward at pace.

Up top, Kevin Prince Boateng could only provide his extra energy in short spurts, while Ibrahimovic sulked every time he didn’t receive the ball, and as a result snatched at a couple of later chances when they did come his way. And Cassano, a threat though he was, got too many of the basics wrong, with his inability to beat the first man on a couple of notable occasions the most stark.

All in all, it was hardly the greatest of starts, despite the rescued point. Even from 2-0 down, this was a game they should have won. Instead the miss from Klose, and an arguably worse finish by Anderson Hernanes could have punished them further, and, but for a great block by Nesta from Cisse, the sting in the tail would have arrived late in the day.

For all of Milan’s possession, their general play was too slow and laboured. It was a tired performance – a disjointed display – from a side who started similarly against Inter in the Supercoppa Italiana five weeks ago. They got away with it then, and they just about did once more against Edy Reja’s side.

But on Tuesday, they need to be much quicker out of the blocks and they have to remain at that high speed. Anything less, and they will be punished. Champions have come back from worse starts to defend their league title, but visiting Europe’s finest outfit in years when you’re struggling to inject energy into your football is hardly the most welcoming of propositions.

Milan must do better. Starting Tuesday.

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