Sep 172013
 

The Thoughts Of Both Sets Of Supporters – AC Milan v Celtic

 

 

Welcome to the first of six of these Champions League features, allowing you to digest not only the views of myself and another Celtic supporter before an upcoming match, but also those of a few fans of our opposition.

Therefore, without further ado, let’s hear what the fans of Milan have to say.

Please note, the following AC Milan players are set to miss the match (or face late fitness tests), despite the fact some of them are mentioned in potential line ups below: Abate, Bonera, El Shaarawy, De Sciglio, Kaka, Montolivo, Niang, Pazzini, Poli, Silvestre.

 

qasa

 

Qasá Alom is a multilingual BBC journalist who has worked with the BBC World Service. He is a long term supporter of AC Milan.

 

1/2. Where do you live and how long have you supported AC Milan?

I live in England and have supported AC Milan for 19 years, I started to watch Italian football like most people of my generation on Channel 4 and was attracted to the spectacular colours and passion of the fans in the stadium. Unfortunately It was the beginning of the end for the majestic football the Rossoneri played at that time that began with Sacchi and the Dutch Trio, however the loyalty to the club did not waiver and if anything has only grown stronger in the years since then.

 

3. How do you feel AC Milan have played this season as a whole, and how do you feel they performed in their last match against Torino?

The side have not played very well at all this season. They look disjointed, confused and lacking an identity. This is something quite notorious under the current manager, Massimiliano Allegri, whose teams typically all start very slowly before gathering momentum throughout the year and finishing strongly. Another hallmark of Milan under Allegri is a reliance on a pivotal striker; first of all it was Zlatan Ibrahimovic, then from his shadows came Stephan El Sharaawy quite out of nowhere and this mantle of being the talisman has now been taken by Mario Balotelli. The team is usually focused around this central figure, providing him with the ball in the final third and expecting him to create magic out of nowhere, either through goals or assists. This was again on display against Torino, as Milan’s defence was typically unorganized, the midfield rather stoic and a late Balotelli penalty was needed to rescue a point. However one bright spark of note was on display against Torino, the emergence of Andrea Poli as a breath of fresh air in the teams midfield. This was first of all on display in Milan’s defeat to newly-promoted Verona, as he scored a fantastic goal with quick feet and great link-up play with Super Mario, and was confirmed against Torino as his pluckiness, effervescence and willingness to make darting runs created both goals.

 

4. Which AC Milan players do you feel Celtic will need to pay particular attention to?

In 2007, a Brazilian Wizard starved of space and the ball called Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite was finally supplied with a scrap of what he had been craving – a through ball and a chance to take on Celtic’s defensive line –  by a blonde haired midfielder called Massimo Ambrosini. Kaka gorged on the opportunity to gobble up space and in doing so rode challenge after challenge and scored an injury time winner to break Celtic hearts and send Milan into the quarter finals of the champions league and on their way to winning ‘Ol Big Ears for a seventh time. That man, Kaka may be injured for this tie, however his effect across the club has already been noted and his performance against Celtic in the past will be an example for the real key man Mario Balotelli will want to follow. For Super Mario the Champions League is new territory that he is desperate to be a leading figure for. The Italian international has proved himself in the premier league, Serie A and after his exploits at the Confederations cup and Euro 2012 the International Stage as well. Yet nonetheless he has been restricted to cameo appearances and the periphery at Man City and Inter, but at AC Milan he has the opportunity to be start his own quest for glory, much like Kaka in 2007.

 

5. Which eleven players would you pick to start the match for AC Milan?

Unfortunately Milan is currently facing a huge injury crisis at the moment that has removed many of Milans key threats and best performers. The Rossoneri will miss the calming influence and metronomic passing of captain Riccardo Montolivo, the talismanic experience of Kaká, as well as the bursting energy of Stephan El Sharaawy in attack. However arguably the greatest loss will be the absence to both first choice full-backs Ignazio Abate and Mattia De Sciglio. Both players came through the youth ranks and Abate has graduated to being one of the clubs most consistent and strongest performers with ferocious pace and improving offensive play. 20 year old De Sciglio is rated as one of the brightest talents and impressed for Italy in the Confederations cup.

As a result of all the absences, Milan will play a patchwork quilt of a team and rely on being compact, not giving up space and the brilliance of Balotelli. The crowd will also play a key part in intimidating Celtic with a cauldron like atmosphere. There will be a debut for Slovenian journeyman Valter Birsa in the wake of all the injuries and a raft of talented yet inexperienced Youth team players on the bench.

Expected 4-3-1-2: Abbiati; Zaccardo Mexes Zapata Constant; Muntari De Jong Nocerino; Birsa; Matri Balotelli

 

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Personal 4-3-3: Abbiati; Zaccardo Mexes Zapata Constant; Muntari De Jong Nocerino (Poli); Robinho Matri Balotelli

 

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7. What are your overall impressions of Celtic as a football club?

Celtic are a great with history, tradition, class and great booming support. Despite the recent slump due to the financial state of Scottish football, Celtic remain a competitive side that no European team enjoys playing. As a result they fall into the category of clubs that must be respected and feared when played at home. Nonetheless it’s a match Milan would expect to win.

 

8. Which Celtic players do you feel AC Milan will need to watch out for in particular?

The Rossoneri are notoriously atrocious at set-pieces, as a result corner kicks, free-kicks and any ball coming in from outside the box will pose a great danger. Giorgios Samaras has come up with many a crucial goal for the Bhoys in Europe and I expect something similar will happen tonight.

 

9. Where do you think AC Milan will finish in Serie A this season, and which position do you think they will finish Group H in?

Third in Serie A, Qualify in 2nd place with 8 points.

 

10. What do you think the score will be at the San Siro?

A tight game that Milan will eventually scrape through 2-1. Goals from Balotelli, Poli and Samaras.

 

 

Jacopo Piotto is a “Football Broadcasting Professional, Stats Collector and Serie A Guest Writer with www.whoscored.com”. He lives in Tuscany, Italy and can be followed @jacopopiotto on Twitter.

 

1. Where do you live and how long have you supported AC Milan?

I live in Tuscany, close to both Livorno (where I was born and raised) and Pisa. I’ve always supported AC Milan, I’d say starting from 1994, when I was seven. I remember watching the UCL final against Barcelona (4-0).

 

2. What attracted you to follow the club?

I have to admit Milan were winning everything in those years. I grew up in Sacchi’s shadow, and Capello’s Milan was peaking when I reached the “football age” (seven, as said). Also, my father is a Milan fan and bought me a Baresi shirt when I was a kid, but I had chosen already.

 

3. How do you feel AC Milan have played this season as a whole, and how do you feel they performed in their last match against Torino?

Milan played quite badly against both Verona and Torino. They had a good game against Cagliari, in which the opponents were too weak to give Milan trouble. Both Cagliari and PSV victories came from technical superiority, but Milan failed to develop a proper playing style. There seems to be no tactical idea yet. Allegri always liked to use the flanks and was building a 4-3-3 (used against PSV and Verona) with wingers, but the club seems to be forcing him to play an outdated 4-3-1-2 (as happened against Cagliari and Torino).

 

4. Which AC Milan players do you feel Celtic will need to pay particular attention to?

In this moment Milan have no attacking plan, so all passes will look for Balotelli (which may play closer to the midfield than Matri). A double marking on him, with a player to cover the goal and another to cut the passes could do the job.

 

5. Which eleven players would you pick to start the match for AC Milan?

My pick would be going back to the 4-3-3. I don’t know if Montolivo, Kakà, El Shaarawy and Poli will be available, and Abate and De Sciglio probably won’t. I’d say Abbiati – Zaccardo, Zapata, Mexes, Emanuelson – Montolivo/Poli, de Jong (sitting deep), Muntari, Birsa as LW (as he’s the only left footed attacking player), Balotelli, El Shaarawy as RW.

 

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6. How do you feel AC Milan will approach the match against Celtic in terms of tactics?

Milan will probably go 4-3-1-2 with Birsa or Robinho behind Balotelli and Matri. In case there’s an injury emergency in midfield, one between Emanuelson and Costant will play there. Muntari, de Jong + Montolivo/Poli/Nocerino is the first choice. Same defence seen against Torino, as there are no further options.

 

7. What are your overall impressions of Celtic as a football club?

I can’t really say that I follow the Scottish league, but Celtic is one of the clubs that make you think of Champions League. Differently from some “new” superpowers in European football, Celtic have that charm that makes you think you don’t want to have to travel to Glasgow. It’s going to be tricky anyway.

 

8. Which Celtic players do you feel AC Milan will need to watch out for in particular?

I don’t know the team enough to answer this one. Celtic seem quite green in terms of Champions League experience, but I really can’t tell.

 

9. Where do you think AC Milan will finish in Serie A this season, and which position do you think they will finish Group H in?

Milan will probably fight with Inter (favoured to get third), Roma and Fiorentina for the third place and UCL qualifying. Anything more than that would mean that Napoli would have dropped points unexpectedly. Juventus still comfortably on top. I expect Milan to finish second in the UCL group.

 

10. What do you think the score will be at the San Siro?

Maybe 1-0 for the hosts, considering experience and the home factor.

 

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Next up, we speak to Rohit Damera, a fan of AC Milan from Mumbai, India. He can be followed on Twitter @rossoneriguy.

 

1. Where do you live and how long have you supported AC Milan?

I live in Mumbai, India. My Dad always used to talk about seeing our Dutch Trinity Van Basten, Rijkaard and Gullit play for Milan, it was somewhat of an influence and that time my heroes Kaka and Ronaldo used to play for Milan, so I started supporting Milan and have been since the past 6 years.

 

2. What attracted you to follow the club?

Well, at that time, both my heroes Kaka and Ronaldo used to play for Milan and naturally I started watching Milan’s matches and the class of players like Paolo Maldini, Kaka, the passionate cries of Gennaro Gattuso and Filippo Inzaghi, the elegance of Andrea Pirlo, Alessandro Nesta and Clarence Seedorf;  a squad, which oozed in stature, grace and sheer royalty. These weren’t a band of men swimming in their millions, banging sexy supermodels and smashing their sports cars intoxicated by liquor. These were men of values, representing a club soaked in decorated history, men of pride and honour.

Growing up, I envisaged to be a man of class and distinction, which is why these attributes of the club immediately captivated me, hooking me into a lifetime commitment of loyalty and allegiance. I instantly knew I had found something that would stick.

 

3. How do you feel AC Milan have played this season as a whole, and how do you feel they performed in their last match against Torino?

Apart from our CL qualifier at home against PSV which we won 3-1, we were pathetic and piss poor. Juvenile tactics, medieval training methods. clueless manager, we are ridiculed for our defence now which we were known and recognized for before, that explains our entire story. The last match against Torino has been the worst of the season till now, more so ever than our season opener against promoted side against Hellas Verona. Our defence was in shambles, our manager Max Allegri made sure Kaka would look clueless the entire team he was there on the field and this match, so early in the season proved the costliest as it injured two of our main players, Monto and Poli and Kaka had a knock.

 

4. Which AC Milan players do you feel Celtic will need to pay particular attention to?

Considering our injuries : Abate, De Sciglio, Silvestre, Bonera, Poli, Montolivo, El Shaarawy, Pazzini. Definitely Balotelli – All our attack i.e build up play and anything and everything goes through him and De Jong – Beast in our midfield, stops almost every attack that goes through him. Need not worry about Kaka at all since he isn’t match fit entirely, not used to Allegri’s system and picked up a knock against Torino.

 

5. Which eleven players would you pick to start the match for AC Milan?

I would go with a 3-5-2, 3-4-1-2 system since our defence is in shambles. My starting 11 would be: Abbiati; Zaccardo Mexes, Zapata; Constant, De Jong, Muntari, Urby; Kaka; Balotelli, Matri.

 

milanlineup2

 

Allegri’s preferred line up considering our injuries: Abbiati; Constant/Urby (LB), Zapata, Mexes, Zaccardo (RB); Urby/Nocerino, De Jong, Muntari; Kaka; Matri, Balotelli.

 

6. How do you feel AC Milan will approach the match against Celtic in terms of tactics?

Allegri is the most clueless manager I have ever seen, cannot believe we didn’t bring in Seedorf over the summer for this blasphemy. His tactics have always been one dimensional, in his first two seasons, Pass the ball to Ibrahimovic, 3rd season – Shaara in 1st half of season, Balo in the 2nd half of season and now, pass to Kaka/Balo as evidenced in the match against Torino. Rest, his play is always a rigid, everyone should help out in defence including attackers which tire them out, has medieval training methods which led to atleast one player getting a knock every match.

 

7. What are your overall impressions of Celtic as a football club?

Pride of Scotland. Easily their derbies with Rangers can be counted as one of the top 5 derbies in the world. Amazing fan support and Celtic Park is bloody intimidating as evidenced last season against Barcelona.

 

8. Which Celtic players do you feel AC Milan will need to watch out for in particular?

By how much I followed Celtic this year, Kris Commons and Fraser Forster. They definitely have the hunger to lead Celtic to glory and the team as a whole too as opposed to Milan.

 

9. Where do you think AC Milan will finish in Serie A this season, and which position do you think they will finish Group H in?

With the quality in the squad, I thought we would win the Scudetto but with Allegri at the helm, a 3rd place definitely which he needs to achieve anyway as it is his objective set by the board/Galliani/Berlo. We will finish 2nd in the group.

 

10. What do you think the score will be at the San Siro?

2-1 to Celtic.

 

 

And now, for the thoughts of the away supporters. First up, we hear from Lee Lambert, a psychology student from Glasgow who is travelling to Milan. He can be followed @leethecaptain.

 

1. How do you feel about the upcoming trip, how are you getting there and what do you expect from it?

I’m surprisingly optimistic for the game. Looks like the ideal time to play Milan with the injury list they seem to have developed over the past week. I think it’s our best chance to get points away from home and hope to see us go for it! I’m flying from Manchester to Milan then staying in a hostel just off of Piazza del Duomo. It will be my third away trip after Rennes in 2011 and Barca last year. Both were fantastic trips with loads of great memories but I’m yet to see us win away in Europe (although a lot of Celtic fans will say the same haha). Hoping for a friendly atmosphere, getting on with the locals, having ourselves a party and if we can, manage getting a point or three to take back to Glasgow.

 

2. What team would you start and why?

 

ltclineup

 

I would start with Forster in goals with a back four of Izaguirre, Van Dijk, Ambrose and Lustig. Van Dijk and Ambrose are looking promising paired together and both can play with the ball at their feet; Ambrose coming onto a game over the past few weeks. Izaguirre and Lustig will offer width and support going forward which might be key if we are to take the game to Milan. I think Mulgrew will join Ledley and Brown in the middle of the park, as the sitting midfielder, as he looked very competent in the two recent Scotland games in that role. I would opt then for a front 3 of Samaras, Commons and Stokes. Sammy is our European talisman and can be unplayable at times. Commons will provide the creativity and has an eye for goal. I feel Stokes should start as his recent form has been great.

 

3. How would you approach the match?

I think it’s our best chance to attack them and come home with something. Their fullbacks are out injured as is Kaka and El Sharaawy and it is early in the group, where our finishing place won’t be determined, so I think we should go with intention to score, rather than invite pressure and hold back for a 0-0.

 

4. Where do you think Celtic will finish in the group?

I think we will finish third above Ajax but with Celtic you never know. Our home form shows we could get 9 points but we have a weakened side from last season and I just think getting to this stage is an achievement in itself.

 

5. What do you think the score will be?

I’m going to go for 2-1 Celtic. Come on you Bhoys in green!

 

Finally, I’d like to thank the three gentlemen above who took the time to share their thoughts with us. My own views on the upcoming match with AC Milan will be published tonight.

 

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