By Petar Todorovski
Serie A table toppers AC Milan didn’t keep the recent great form against the bottom teams and secured only one point in Lecce. The home side fought bravely and kept Rossoneri away from the goal of Rosati, which was enough to make the surprise of this round. Despite the unpleasant result Milan is still on top with four points ahead of second placed Napoli, after their draw against Fiorentina.
Before the game everyone expected another convincing victory for the team from San Siro. Coach Massimiliano Allegri decided to start the match with Ibrahimovic and Pato in front, while Daniele Bonera returned as left back. Marco Amelia was on the goal on the place of injured Christian Abbiati.
The game start showed us only one thing – Lecce was there just to keep their net clear, or at least to concede as least as possible. Having in mind the 4-0 humiliation in August, this was easy to predict.
It started slowly and the first real scoring opportunity happened in 19th minute, when Mathieu Flamini’s effort didn’t finish into the net. Alexandre Pato and Gennaro Gattuso shot from long range in attempt to break the strong and compact defensive line. It was without any success, showing that Lecce play their game very well.
Giallorossi celebrated first, in 38th minute, but it lasted only few seconds, before the denying of the goal by the referee. David Di Michele scored, but Jeda fouled Thiago Silva, making the goal irregular.
Milan kept trying to open the score before the half time whistle, Pato and Ibrahimovic made some efforts, but the result on the break was 0-0.
It was clear for Milan that it’s going to be very difficult to break Lecce defense and they need a wonder to do it. So it happened! The magician in the team, Ibracadabra, in 49th minute let the ball bounce once after a poor clearance and netted with thrilling volley.
It seemed that it would be enough for collecting the three points, but the spirited hosts never gave up. They almost equalized ten minutes after Milan’s goal, but Amelia did his job great after Guillermo Giacomazzi’s attempt.
However, in 82nd minute Milan players were made to see the ball into their own net. David Di Michele assisted Ruben Olivera from corner and the result was 1-1. Lecce managed to do late equalizer against a top team, just like against Rossoneri city rivals Inter.
Then Milan went all in attack, but the defense of their opponents was just to strong. Ibrahimovic had some chances which didn’t find the net, however.
Lecce coach Luigi De Canio, who announced intention to hurt Milan’s title chances before the game, was very pleased. He emphasized the meaning of this one point in the battle to avoid relegation. “We are in a relegation battle, but the team is calm. We were able to get a point against Milan, which is a positive for us, pointing the side in the right direction,” he claimed. “The four points against two of the top three teams is a fruit of the hard work the team has gone through over the past six months. I want my side to play with this mentality all the time, and am very satisfied of their performance.”
Unlike him, Massimiliano Allegri wasn’t satisfied with the result, but he expressed awareness that no one is perfect and results like this will happen throughout the season. “We do not need to be worried, as Lecce barely got close to our penalty area in the first-half. We finished the match playing strongly, and a result like this is normal throughout a long season,” he said.
Milan has still four points advantage on the top after the previously mentioned draw of Napoli, but now Lazio is also four points far. However, Rossoneri will have the chance to extend it the next week against another bottom team, Cesena, which is going to guest on San Siro in Milan.
AC Milan are expecting another easy game and three points on their travel to Lecce, one of the most serious candidates for relegation in May. Rossoneri travel to Stadio Comunale Via Del Mare after losing two points of their advantage in the last round game to remember against inspired Udinese.
Although Milan had the control over the most of the match, Udinese was the team that used their chances better. They scored four times from the few opportunities, not giving Milan chance to lead the score sheet in the process. Rossoneri were saved from defeat in 93rd minute with the goal by Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Now their advantage ahead of second placed Napoli is four points. They have 40, with impressive record of 12 victories out of 19 games and only two defeats.
Unlike them, Lecce is struggling this season. They are in the relegation zone, on 18th place, with eleven losses of 19 games, which means that unless they don’t improve significantly, relegation is a real option. They have eight defeats in last eleven games, however they were in worse position few weeks ago, as they won two of their last four matches against Chievo and high fliers Lazio.
Milan smashed Lecce with 4-0 in the first battle between these two sides back in August on San Siro and they’re expecting similar result this weekend. Nevertheless, the home record of Lecce is not that bad. Only three losses in nine games, beating Fiorentina and drawing with than the in-crisis Inter means that Rossoneri mustn’t underestimate this rival if they want easy points.
They will have to play without Phillipo Inzaghi, Andrea Pirlo, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Gianluca Zambrotta and the first option keeper Christian Abbiati. However, there is some good news for Massimiliano Allegri. Alessandro Nesta and Mathieu Flamini trained with the team last week and are expected to play. It’s very probable for Flamini to start, having in mind the lots of injured midfielders.
Lecce will have to cope with the leaders without Giuliatto, Reginiussen, Olivera and Ofere. They’re expected to show up in defensive formation with only one striker.
Everything except victory for Milan would be great surprise. Rossoneri showed class with their persistence to win the game against Cagliari even without Ibrahimovic, so dealing with sides like Lecce with the Swede superstar would be an easy task. We still remember the games from November and December when Milan smashed the weaker teams in less than an hour, so this match shouldn’t be different. They just have too much for Lecce.