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Simply the best
3.5 || scharatz

By Football Italia's Antonio Labbate

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Clubs like Milan are expected to win League championships but the Rossoneri’s 17th Scudetto will live long in the memory. Not only have they shattered Serie A records all season, they’ve won the title with such style and finesse, one which Italian football has arguably never witnessed before.

The statistics say it all really. Milan’s 1-0 win over closest rivals Roma saw them move on to 79 points, four more than the previous best, from just 32 games. They’ve won 24 matches, drawn seven and lost just once during an unbelievable march to another Italian title.

Significantly in the games that mattered against Roma, Juventus, Inter and Lazio, the Rossoneri gathered an amazing 22 points out of a possible 24. Only the Bianconeri managed to hold them to a 1-1 draw at Milan before Christmas.

The San Siro giants took their first step towards another Scudetto last May when they beat rivals Juventus in the European Cup Final. It was back then when the outfit realised that they had the players and the ability to start a new winning cycle at the club.

Milan were already a formidable outfit last term with arguably one of the best midfields in European football. Andrea Pirlo was successfully converted by boss Carlo Ancelotti from an attacking midfielder to a deep playmaker. He was allowed to dictate Milan’s play with the help of his midfield companions in the shape of Clarence Seedorf, Gennaro Gattuso and Manuel Rui Costa.

Yet the Italian giants added to that department with the arrival of Kaka. He was initially signed as an understudy to Rui Costa but the young Brazilian soon relegated his tutor to the bench. The attacking midfielder has been nothing short of sensational this season. He was also one of the reasons why Rivaldo was dumped at Christmas.

The South American has excited with his dribbling abilities, his pinpoint passes but also his scoring touch. After all, he has netted 10 goals in his first Serie A campaign – with many proving to be decisive.

But Kaka wasn’t the only key signing. Milan also swooped for Marcos Cafu from Roma and Lazio’s Giuseppe Pancaro. Remarkably the full-backs arrived for absolutely nothing but they gave Milan the option to play more down the flanks.

Milan were often very narrow last season but Cafu and Pancaro have pushed forward, often whipping in dangerous crosses for top scorer Andriy Shevchenko or the very useful Jon Dahl Tomasson to put away.

There have also been some monster performances from Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Nesta in defence. Goalkeeper Dida has proved to be solid, while Gennaro Gattuso has never stopped running.

And of course we must credit Coach Carlo Ancelotti for finally getting his hands on the Scudetto as a tactician. He came so close with Juventus in the past but he has at last achieved his aim with the team of his heart.

Ancelotti has managed to develop a united team spirit and been able to keep the high profile substitutes – such as Rui Costa and Massimo Ambrosini – content despite their probable frustration at not playing regularly enough.

He’s also had to deal with the tactical advice of President Silvio Berlusconi who called for the side to always play with two strikers after the 3-2 win over Inter. Yet whether Ancelotti played with a 4-3-1-2 or a 4-3-2-1, results didn’t really change. Milan kept winning and the Scudetto was inevitably, and deservedly, won.

Milan player ratings: Dida 7.5, Cafu 7.5, Maldini 8, Nesta 8, Pancaro 7.5, Costacurta 7, Simic 6.5, Laursen 6, Gattuso 7.5, Ambrosini 6.5, Brocchi 6, Redondo 6, Serginho 6, Pirlo 8, Seedorf 7.5, Kaka 9, Rui Costa 6.5, Inzaghi 6.5, Tomasson 7, Shevchenko 8.5. Abbiati, Kaladze and Borriello – no vote.





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