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Club Focus - Milan - Robinho and Ibrahimović enjoying life at Milanello

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By Rami Soufi

Friday 03 December 2010

Milan's rise to the table has been propelled by Zlatan Ibrahimović's imperious form and the gradual improvement of Robinho, who appears to have found his comfort zone in Serie A after a failed experience in the English Premier League with Manchester City. Ibrahimović's heroics are well documented at this point but Robinho has been a positive factor in recent matches with his movement and contribution not to mention his sublime goal against Sampdoria which helped the Rossoneri to earn a point from the trip to Genoa.

Robinho's move to Milan raised many eyebrows as the Rossoneri had a healthy Alexandre Pato and Filippo Inzaghi during the summer and were able to snatch Ibrahimović from Barcelona on loan. In hindsight the signing of the Seleção skipper has proven to be a stroke of genius as both Pato and Inzaghi have since been sidelined by injury while Brazilian maestro Ronaldinho is struggling for form. Robinho's emergence has compensated for Ronaldinho's struggles and the absence of sidelined Azzurri midfielder Andrea Pirlo. Robinho offers creativity and can take off some of the load from his Swedish strike partner, who has been overburdened due to the demanding playing schedule, the lack of rest, and the fact he is often at the midst of Milan's attacking moves. Both attackers have confirmed they are happy to be at Milanello and have affirmed their desire to win titles with the Rossoneri. Robinho has gone as far as claiming he wants to win every possible trophy, practically wanting to repeat Inter's glorious treble from last season. As for the big Swede, he is beaming with confidence while stressing he will always give his best. The talented star believes he is the best player whenever he takes to the pitch and his boundless confidence perhaps reveals one of the factors behind the stunning start to his Milan career.

Reaching the summit has coincided with Ronaldinho's stint on the bench and Pirlo's time on the sidelines raising the question as to whether their incorporation back into the starting line-up will hurt the team's chances of preserving the lead in Serie A. There is fear their return or the insertion of one of the two key players into the XI will disrupt the balance of the formation used by Coach Massimiliano Allegri. The Coach has changed Milan's tactics by employing a 4-3-1-2 with veteran Dutchman Clarence Seedorf offering the attacking duo support. However, Seedorf could be dropped to accommodate Ronaldinho or perhaps Pato as Robinho could occupy the Dutchman's position, but this could raise concerns about the ability to cope with the lesser teams which tend to use a more aggressive approach. Ronaldinho is unlikely to track back while Robinho is not renowned for his defensive qualities.

One option could be to simply remove Seedorf and swap him with Pirlo, who can resume his deep playmaking role with some rugged midfielders such as Gennaro Gattuso and skipper Massimo Ambrosini continuing to offer protection. This would shift the formation to a more direct 4-4-2 but could add further stability to the squad. Some could argue Pirlo’s ageing and his lack of pace will not serve the Rossoneri when they are chasing the game and not in possession of the ball. The reality is having a gifted playmaker such as Pirlo could relieve both Ibrahimović and Robinho while having them focus more on scoring goals as opposed to working harder to create scoring opportunities for each other or their teammates.

Vice-President Adriano Galliani has not hidden the management's desire to bring in an attacking replacement who is similar to the injured Inzaghi. The January transfer window could offer the opportunity to bring in a striker who can find the back of the net on a regular basis whenever he is needed. Some of the names being linked with il Diavolo include Alessandro Matri who has been mentioned on a number of occasions in recent times as the best option to replace the injured Inzaghi. Pato will be back early 2011 to offer further support but the Rossoneri's management is showing concern about the young striker's various injuries in the last 12 months and is set to send him to the United States to get checked in North Carolina at Duke University. The return of Pato will be like a new signing but with the Rossoneri competing on multiple fronts it will not be sufficient to keep the attacking rotation fresh enough for the finish line in May.

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