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Club Focus - Milan - Pato scores twice on return as Robinho gets his first Rossoneri goal

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By Rami Soufi

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Substitute Robinho was able to score his first goal in a Milan shirt and this must have come as a welcome relief for the Selecao player and for the Rossoneri faithful since the forward has been decidedly below par and struggling since joining from Manchester City. While Ibrahimovic has settled in quickly, the same cannot be said of Robinho who has yet to justify his signing. The presence of a decent-sized Brazilian contingent led by Pato, Thiago Silva and Ronaldinho does not appear to have helped Robinho make his transition to life in the peninsula and at Milanello any easier.

The forward will likely be on the bench against his former team Real Madrid when the two European giants clash in the Champions League but Ronaldinho showed he could pose a threat if switched to a more central role as witnessed during the match against the Flying Donkeys. Ronaldinho displayed a series of neat moves and at one point one of Chievo's players, Luca Rigoni, fell victim to an outrageous set of tricks performed by the Brazilian maestro.

The former World Cup winner remains one of the ultimate entertainers when he is playing at his best and his talents will be needed to breakdown Jose Mourinho's Los Galacticos who are led by a number of important players such as Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo. The duo managed to put their name on the score-sheet in the weekend win which kept the Madrid club on top of the standings in La Liga.

The Rossoneri defensive line will have to be alert and the full-backs will have to be at their best to cope with the scoring threat of Los Blancos yet both Gianluca Zambrotta and Luca Antonini have left much to be desired in terms of tracking back. They have both shown eagerness to attack from the flanks but at the expense of tracking back and completing their defensive duties. This has meant the centre-back partnership of Alessandro Nesta and Thiago Silva was exposed and tested more than a handful of occasions due to the shortcomings of the full-backs. This could be a problem against Real Madrid, particularly when a player of Ronaldo's calibre is in the opposition starting line-up, and to make things even more difficult for the Rossoneri the Brazilian centre-back Thiago Silva is not certain to take the field due to an injury suffered against Chievo.

If he does miss the clash then reserve defender Daniele Bonera will likely be drafted in to partner veteran Nesta at the heart of Milan's defensive line. It is unlikely Coach Allegri will resort to using veteran defender Mario Yepes or summer signing Sokratis Papastathopoulos as the Greek has only featured in one game for Il Diavolo. Allegri will likely stick to his starting line-up starting with goalkeeper Christian Abbiati who was solid against Chievo making a number of important saves and the aforementioned four defenders unless Silva succumbs to his injury then Bonera will take his place.

In midfield, veteran Clarence Seedorf is rolling back the years with some energised performances while Gennaro Gattuso has shown signs of improvement after a dreadful 2009/10 season. Gattuso has shown he can be a capable replacement for sidelined skipper Massimo Ambrosini.

Unfortunately for Allegri and the club midfield enigma Andrea Pirlo has continued to be erratic and inconsistent in terms of his performances, a fact not lost on the tifosi. Pirlo scored a brilliant winner against Parma but was a shadow of himself against the Flying Donkeys. Allegri's tendencies show he is unlikely to rest Pirlo against the Spaniards but Dutchman Seedorf could be sacrificed for younger and fresher legs in the shape of Kevin-Prince Boateng.

The return of Pato and Ibrahimovic's form have left the tifosi hopeful of winning silverware this season and the clash against Los Galacticos will serve as the perfect test to measure how much progress the Rossoneri have made since the summer additions.

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