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Calcio Debate: Is This The Worst Milan Team In 25 Years?

When the fixture list for the new Serie A season was drawn up, barring the week two derby clash against Inter, it seemed that new Milan coach Leonardo had been presented with the dream set of opponents in order to build confidence, momentum and a winning side. Siena, Livorno, Bologna, Udinese, Bari, Atalanta – not to mention two Champions League ties against Marseille and FC Zurich – looked like the perfect preparation before the season really exploded in October against the likes of Roma, Real Madrid, and then a few weeks later Fiorentina, Genoa, and Juventus.

As it has turned out, these early rounds have only served to crush Milan’s morale into the ground by highlighting just how weak and deficient they really are. A 4-0 thumping by Inter sandwiched a laborious 2-1 win at Siena and a dour 0-0 draw at Livorno on Saturday evening.

If Milan are struggling so desperately against Siena and Livorno – possibly the two favourites for relegation, especially after the latter sold the mercurial Alessandro Diamanti to West Ham – what hope do they seriously have this season?

Against the Amaranto, every defect in this current Milan squad reared its ugly head. The lack of pace throughout the team is so horrific that the term ‘counter-attack’ does not exist in the Milanello vocabulary. The time it takes for the Diavoli to move from one end of the pitch to the other is comparable to the time it takes for a hunchbacked old man with a zimmer frame to cross the road.

Is there a less mobile midfield in Serie A at the moment than Milan’s? Are there two worse full backs than Massimo Oddo and Marek Janukulovski? Is there a team as susceptible on set-pieces and crosses? Does there exist an individual who does as little as Ronaldinho, yet still occupies possibly the most important position in the line-up?

What is most worrying is that in these early stages of the season, Milan have almost had a clean bill of health. If the 2007 Champions League winners are labouring with virtually a full strength XI, what will happen once the inevitable injuries, suspensions and fatigue kicks in? Especially when you consider that seven or eight regular starters, and 15 of the first team squad, are over the age of 30.

These are truly worrying times, and it can be argued that this is the worst Milan team in over 25 years. Before Silvio Berlusconi signalled a new dawn in 1986, the Rossoneri were enduring one of the most depressing periods of their existence. After the enforced Totonero relegation in 1980, Milan returned to Serie B in 1982 after their worst season ever when they finished 14th.

Back then, just like now, the immediate future was not promising. In 1982, with the exception of Franco Baresi and Mauro Tassotti, there were no youngsters who signalled the start of better things. Today there is Alexandre Pato, Mathieu Flamini, Thiago Silva, and perhaps Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, while the remainder of the squad are mostly into their thirties and/or well past their best.

The one ray of light at the moment is the centre back link-up of Thiago Silva and Alessandro Nesta. It is of paramount importance that the duo stay fit and play as many games as possible together this season. If this occurs, Leonardo will at least be safe in the knowledge that not too much will get past the Brazilian and Italian.

With just three rounds gone in Serie A, the Rossoneri already find themselves well off the pace. Juventus, who top the table alongside Ligurian-duo Genoa and Sampdoria, have taken maximum points despite already travelling twice to the Eternal City to play Roma and Lazio.

We knew at the start of the season that the Scudetto was going to be a two-horse race between Juve and Inter, but no one knew just how bleak Milan’s aspirations were. Goal.com predicted that the Rossoneri would finish the campaign in sixth place – for which we received huge criticism – based on the early-going; this prognosis may be considered generous.

What are your views on this topic? Is this the worst Milan team in 25 years? Where will Milan finish this season? Goal.com wants to know what YOU think…

Carlo Garganese, Goal.com
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