Milan crushed Siena 4-0 yesterday afternoon to add excitement to the title race, and Carlo Garganese hails two of the main protagonists.Inter winning the Scudetto has become as predictable in recent years as boxer Fraud Mayweather Jr avoiding decent fighters, but for the first time since Calciopoli the Nerazzurri may actually have to knock out an opponent who is not small, over-rated, or old...
...okay, small or over-rated then!
No one could have possibly predicted it at the beginning of the season, especially after Inter thrashed their ageing city rivals 4-0 in week two, but as we go into the return derby at the weekend Milan find themselves just six points behind Inter with a game in hand.
Two of the main protagonists in this turnaround, which sees Milan lead the form table with 15 points from a possible 18, have been forwards Ronaldinho and Marco Borriello. The Brazilian had been written off by 99 per cent of fans and experts after a dismal start to the campaign, while the ex-Genoa man was constantly linked with a move away from San Siro due to niggling injuries that restricted him to just eight appearances and two goals in all competitions last term.
The two internationals have been rejuvenated in recent months. Ronaldinho has scored six goals in his last three matches, including yesterday’s stunning hat-trick in the 4-0 thrashing of Siena. The buck-toothed attacker rifled home a wonder-goal of a third into the top corner from 30 yards, and exhibited the kind of dribbles, dummies, sways and step-overs not seen since he was at the peak of his Barcelona powers. Three times Ronnie just missed out on adding to his total after bamboozling solo slaloms.
Just to clear up the choice of title, Ronaldinho is not back to his Barcelona best. It would be impossible to replicate what he did in 2004 and 2005 where he was at an unplayable level only ever surpassed by Diego Maradona during the 1980s. But, Ronaldinho is certainly in his best form since the fateful 2006 World Cup where his decline began. The real acid test will be this Sunday evening against Inter in the derby. If Ronnie can demonstrate even 50 per cent of his Siena levels then the Nerazzurri will be in big trouble, especially Maicon who like most of the Inter backline has been shaky of late.
Moreover, it will surely be impossible for Brazil not to recall Ronaldinho in time for the World Cup. The Selecao carried the 29-year-old for a while after Dunga took charge, but in South Africa Gaucho could be ready to carry Brazil.
Borriello is also staking his claim for a ticket to The Rainbow Nation. The 27-year-old has hit the back of the net seven times from just 11 games in Serie A this season, including a string of impressive strikes. The latest of these yesterday is a contender for goal of the year as Borriello hooked a spectacular first time Marco Van Basten-type volley into the top corner from an acute angle off Andrea Pirlo’s long raking pass.
The ex-Genoa hitman has developed a fine understanding with those around him, particularly Pirlo who you feel would relish his presence in the national team. Given the problems Italy have had in attack over the past two years, surely Borriello is a better option than the hapless Amauri, who seemed a certainty for South Africa until several weeks ago.
Ronaldinho are not the only two Milan stars to rediscover themselves. Alessandro Nesta has reclaimed his best defender in the world crown, Andrea Pirlo has been back to his best since the turn of the decade, while even Massimo Ambrosini has been churning out some dominant displays.
The countdown for the derby has begun, and it could not have arrived at a better time for Milan, Borriello, or the rip-roaring Ronaldinho.
What are your views on this topic? Do you agree that Ronaldinho is back to his best form since 2006? Does he deserve to go to the World Cup along with Marco Borriello? Goal.com wants to know what YOU think…
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