Game recap: Milan 1-0 Catania

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MILAN GRABBED all 3 points in their fourth consecutive league victory against bottom feeders Catania, the first time this has happened in over a year, as Clarence Seedorf’s men close in on a Top 5 finish to the 2013/2014 campaign.

The game started a bit sluggish for Milan with no team clearly controlling the game. In the 13th minute, Milan were almost punished by Barrientos as he curled an effort from 25 yards towards the top left hand corner that was neatly pushed away by keeper Christian Abbiati. This breathed new life into Milan as they began to dictate the tempo of the game soon after.

The 21st minute saw the first chance for Milan as Kaka hits a free-kick towards the back post that snakes through a handful of bodies but Adil Rami’s touch, with only the goal in front of him, is over the bar from 3 yards out. A minute later Kaka showed why he was the Ballon d’ Or winner in 2007 and one of the most electrifying players of his era when he collected the ball on the left and bob and weaved his way down the flank and into the penalty area only to shoot into the side netting.

Highlights: Milan 1-0 Catania
Milan-Catania: Official line-ups

Milan would only need to wait a minute later as Balotelli wins a free kick on the left flank. From the foul, Balotelli passes to Captain Riccardo Montolivo who takes a touch and then rifles a 30 yard shot into the bottom right hand corner of the Catania goal, beating keeper Andujar. The 33rd minute saw a great chance from winger Adel Taarabt who is known for his trickery, cut in towards the penalty area from the left and curled an effort just inches wide of the far post with Andujar beaten. Balotelli almost goes close from a free-kick as the ball sails just wide of the post.

Out of the break, and it should have been 2-0 in the 52nd minute when Taarabt’s cross intended for Balotelli was slightly deflected by Andrea Poli, taking away from Balotelli’s head in what would have been a goal had he been able to get a clear header away. From then on, Milan controlled the game for the most part. Defender Philippe Mexes, known for some acrobatic goals, almost scores another with an athletic scissor kick that sails just wide of the post. He was left all alone and Balotelli was able to pick him out perfectly for the attempt. Better luck next time for the Frenchman!

The 75th minute saw a free kick attempt for Catania through defender Fabian Monzon need a heroic save from Abbiati to keep it out. A few moments later and Rinaudo would pick up his second yellow card in an 18 minute span to send him packing. Catania had begun a run of physical play that saw Milan awarded a plethora of free kicks and a few yellow cards given to the opposition by the referee.

Milan were able to hold on and move up to 8th place in the Serie A table, 5 point a drift of 5th place, the last guaranteed Europa League spot. There is a chance the 6th spot will be also for the EL, however both Coppa Italia finalists, Fiorentina and Napoli must finish in the Top 5 for this to happen. After the Livorno tie next week, Milan will have two very important tests, against Roma then against Inter the following week, which will define their European football future. 9 points from all 3 games would ensure advancement to the EL.

Encouraging signs from Milan was the teamwork and effort put forth by the players. Balotelli, always blamed for his poor work ethic and laziness, tracked back on numerous occasions to help his defense and get the attack going. Poli started the game a bit wastefully, but found his composure and showed his importance to this Milan team as he was all over the park in attack and defense. One point that is obvious, the team did not miss the presence of Keisuke Honda. The Japanese international players form has been very cyclical as of late with a few good outings and then a sub-par performance.

With the upcoming important ties, Seedorf, who deserves a ton of credit for the ability to engineer a Rossoneri resurgence, needs to manage his players well and make sure there is no fatigue and tired legs, especially coming up towards the end of the campaign. Just a few weeks ago, Milan was written off and dubbed a mid-table team, but The Professor has shown his knack for managerial prowess and Milan now are sitting in the driver’s seat of their 14/15 European football hopes.

As always, Forza Milan!

Milan 1-0 Catania: La Gazzetta dello Sport player-ratings (screenshot)
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Forza Milan

Europa League legooo! btw El sha if you must take your time to heal well and be very strong all next season. i wont mind. forza milanello

phillmicester

must kno a trini eh boi

Sherbini

I hope seedorf will change his choices in the next season.

Good management for seedorf this season, but it is a mid table team that needs a lot of changes next season. Many average players!

paul

very gud we are doing well but 1 tink is dat d season is almost to d end.let luk who will go & in agint nex cson.now i prefer dis players to sta especily de sciglo,el shaarawy felos balotelli,motolivo,cristante,taarabt,honda,saponara,rami,gabr,bonara.then in players fernado fr porto,ramirze fr southamton,richard fr man city,doria fr botafogo,silva fr udinse,krul fr new castle or perini fr genoa cerci fr torino.wht yr own.

Cobben

Monty was our man of the match IMO, great work defensively and solid out-let passes (although few misplaced passes) and a spectacular goal. Balotelli had a decent game as well, only his presence opens up space for his team mates and he drew more than 10 fouls, most of them in the attacking third. Taarabt showed some nice pace and dribbling skills on both flanks, but was a bit selfish, could’ve played Monty through for a one-on-one with the keeper with a simple tap of the ball, but he opted to cut inside and go for it but his attempt… Read more »

Cobben

You’re definitely right about what happened with Stephan last season, but what I base my “hope” on is that he will bring some positional stability, being a natural left winger. With El Shaarawy on the left flank, it will enable Kaka (or who ever will play the CAM role) to stay in his natural position more and not be forced to move to the wing. In contrast Taarabt cuts into the middle more often than not and likes to wander around the pitch, which makes his mind set as a winger a little unpredictable for his team mates. Of course,… Read more »

Dooli

Ya I definitely think SES will take back the LW role from Taarabt and if we end up signing Taarabt to a deal then we will most likely play on the right. CAM would be either Kaka or Honda for now but Honda is just not gonna cut it in Serie A I don’t think. Maybe I’m wrong..

Milan4life

Guys, do you notice Taarabt played on right wing yesterday. Why is it coincident with el 92 recovery? I think Seedorf will deploy el 92 in coming games and start trying T23 on right wing now. KaKa likes to drift his run to the wing as well. What I think is we need Honda in CAM now otherwise find the player like Rui Costa.

Cobben

Actually according to the line-ups he played left wing, but yes he did play on the right as well, but according to what I saw he was more on the left, during the 2nd half especially. My point was not that Taarabt and El Shaarawy would be “in each other’s way” I was just pointing out the difference between the two and my opinion how the dynamics will change when Stephan comes back to first team football.

Dang

Some ppl are going over the line with Bonera, and im not a fan of him either. But i like him more at RB, he doesn’t have the speed as Abate, but for some reason he is more secure at the back as he know he dont have the speed to run up and down the flank. Abate meanwhile, he might have the speed, but he doesn’t have delivery and always misplaced when come back to defence. Constant is another guy who often get its at hi here, i think he did a Ok match last night. But as Cobben… Read more »

Dooli

The problem with Taarabt, while he has individual talent and a certain degree of pace, he is selfish quite often. There were atleast 3 instances in last night’s game when he chose to keep the ball and dribble rather than pass to the open man. A team player would lay the ball off for the player that is in better position. Balotelli use to do that early in the season but I think working with Seedorf has helped him emerge as a player and I think the same should happen with Taarabt. Certain situations call for individualism while others call… Read more »

Axelynx22

Funny issues grown in italy that max allegri is going to inter milan replacing walter mazzari. lOL what do you guys say?

Carmine

Inter will be in Serie B in 4 years time if allegri joins them :P.

Dooli

That just made my day! How he can find another top level job with his horrific managing is beyond me. But who am I? Lol

Alan

*Breaking News* Inter milan sign Constant, Zaccardo, Matri, Robinho, Birsa, and Mexes. I wonder why…

Cowmagnet

lol have fun with that, Inter. And, who knows? Allegri might do well there. I doubt it though.

Sanoske

Never by any stretch is bonera better than Abate not that bonera is a bad player.Most of you just forget the fact that Abate has been hampered with injuries this season