Yesterday was a bad day for Serie A in the Champions League. Roma lost 3-1 at home to FC Basel to fall into last place in Group E, but level on points with Basel and Cluj. But the big story of the night was AC Milan’s first trip back to the Bernabeu since their shock 3-2 victory there last year.
This year’s trip was quite different, and the major difference was the two men on the sidelines. Jose Mourinho, now the manager of Real Madrid, got a chance to face an opponent he almost owned in Serie A over the past few years. And his managerial expertise and genius was seen from kickoff. Madrid dominated action for the first twenty minutes and consistently threatened the Milan goal, scoring twice in the first fifteen minutes.
The first goal was part Ronaldo’s skill, part Milan failure. After Alexandre Pato made a poor challenge outside the box that was called, Ronaldo drilled the free-kick into the corner in an absolutely brilliant shot through a Milan wall. Replays showed, however, that the gap was created by Clarence Seedorf stepping back and a few teammates pivoting away from the shot. About sixty seconds later Madrid added a second goal. Mesut Ozil’s quality chance inside the area was put into the net by deflecting off of Daniele Bonera’s head as keeper Amelia watched from the ground.
Milan, while having a few chances throughout the match, was generally dominated by Madrid. Coming in everyone knew that Madrid had only allowed three goals this season, and they showed their prowess by limiting Milan to only a few legitimate chances to score. Allegri is rightly receiving criticism from Milan fans for his lineup with eschewed defense and looked to score as often as possible. That meant starting Seedorf and Ronaldinho, as well as Ibrahimovic, Pato and Pirlo. Ronaldinho, while a few times looking quality, was generally a non-factor, while Pato played a poor match and Ibrahimovic was shut down by the defense. Seedorf, in addition to creating a hole in the wall in the fourteenth minute, had an open chance later in the first half that he completely botched. Allegri looked lost in this match while Mourinho again put out a perfect lineup and his club had the better gameplan.
So Milan is back to the drawing board but still has three points in Group G. Today’s Champions League match is a real treat as Tottenham travels to Milan to face Inter in a match that has some interesting storylines. It is up to Rafa’s club to prevent Serie A from going 0-3 in the Champions League this week.