After fairing wonderfully in the first half of the season, AC Milan has had an inauspicious start to the year 2011, thanks to  injuries to some of the pivotal players. AC Milan went into the winter break at the top of the table; but, at present, are having a torrid time. They have tasted victory only once in three encounters.

Milan bolstered their attack immensely in the summer transfer market with signings which surely delighted Milanistas world over. However, Galliani failed to resurrect the defensive unit, which can cost them dearly.

It’s rather ironical that in spite of being an Italian football giant and having possessed some of the greatest defenders of all time, Milan suffers from a severe shortage of a decent full backs.

It’s a fact that with players like Baresi and Maldini in their ranks, Milan made San Siro their fortress. Sadly, this fact has now become a myth.

Why did the fortress crumble?

In Nesta and Silva, Milan possesses arguably the best center-back  pairing in Serie A. But then again let us be real, Nesta is not getting any younger and sooner or later Milan would need someone to replace him. Unfortunately at the moment, this doesn’t even look remotely possible, considering the defensive talent Il Diavolo have at their disposal.

Thiago Silva has impressed and has forged a crucial partnership at the back of the field with Nesta since Il Capitano retired. However, an injury to either of them will magnify the void that the Rossoneri have at the heart of their defense. This is something which Inter Milan and Manchester United showcased and fully utilized last season.

Bonera, who is Allegri’s first choice replacement for either of them, in the center back position should hang his boots as soon as possible for his own sake (before the Italian Mafia decides to take this matter into their own hands). Watching him defend or for that matter, Seedorf trying to hold onto the ball, has been the worst sight for any Milan supporter this season.

Daniele Bonera (in white): From bad to worse

Why is Allegri not fielding the young Greek Papastathopoulos, is beyond comprehension. More so because he has a Bonera on the bench whose ‘forte’ is woeful defending and serving goal scoring opportunities to the rival forwards on a platter. The 34-year old Yepes, the first signing done by Galliani this season has proved more effective than Mr. Bonera and should be given more match time because nothing can be worse than Daniele Bonera.

Injury to Zambrotta, their first choice fullback, has made matters worse. In spite of him being way past his prime, he remains the best option for a full back position. This further highlights the incapability of Milan, to attract world class young defenders to their squad, off late.

It is difficult to label Antonini, who fills in for Milan at left back position as a ‘defender’ –  even at gun-point. while performing his defensive duties, he is often found out of position and down in the mouth. Even an average attacker, who creates attacks from the flank, has the ability to keep Luca in his pocket.

Ignazio Abate, who was severely criticized for his performance last season, has put up an improved defensive display this time around.  Even though he is not a natural defender, he has worked hard to fit into the role of a right back. He does goof up every now and then but then that is only expected if you play a midfielder in a role that is not meant for him. He has shown promise this season and with age on his side – which is a rarity in Milan, he might develop into a full fledge right back.

Mr. Galliani its about time you wore your golden tie

Galliani would not even remember as to why Oguchi Onyewu was even bought. After missing the entire 2009-10 season, due to injury, he has been loaned to FC Twente. The American international made just two appearances in Milan colors and both these matches  ended in a defeat. A reason behind this could be the fact that they found it rather difficult to pronounce his name in Milan. So communicating on the pitch with him would have been challenging for his teammates.

Bruno Montelongo could be another Onyewu in the making. Not only is he blessed with an interesting surname but also because this Uruguayan youngster has not seen any playing time at the San Siro, despite the unavailability of good defenders.

If reports coming from Italy are to be believed then one could expect a decent defender at the San Siro. Galliani is believed to be on the lookout for a solid young defender and he has been wearing his lucky golden tie as well. Fans can count on another great deal coming Milan’s way this winter market after getting a steal in the form of Cassano, early this January.

On the radar

Mimmo Criscito

Criscito is one name which is doing the rounds in almost all Italian sports newspaper. He is one guy who can liberate Milan from its defensive ailments. Galliani did admit that talks are on with Genoa to rope in the 24-year old defender on loan, with an option to buy him at the end of the season. This deal looks a little dicey as Genoa’s president has outrightly refused to let Criscito go this winter. However, taking into consideration Galliani’s negotiating abilities, one can always expect surprises. What might work for the Italian giants is that Milan and Genoa have been actively involved with each other in this transfer market and if this deal goes through, it should certainly strengthen the bond.

Reto Ziegler

With Genoa’s president standing in the way of the Criscito-deal, Sampdoria’s Ziegler has emerged as a front runner as his replacement in the transfer market. Doria signing of Zsolt Laczkó is a strong indication that Milan are the favourites in acquiring the Swiss defender before the transfer window closes. Milan desperately needs him and rumours have it that they are even willing to pay Sampdoria’s share to Real Madrid for Cassano, to get this deal done.

With Inter, Lazio and Napoli breathing down AC Milan’s neck, Galliani needs to fully utilize this winter mercato if Milan wants to see themselves with the Scudetto after the 38 rounds of Serie A or if they want to better their last season’s performance in UEFA Champions League.

Till now, Milan has conceded the least amount of goals in Serie A; but one would not consider betting on Milan with their current backline if they were to take on the likes of FC Barcelona, Real Madrid or even Tottenham for that matter, who have a certain Gareth Bale.

  • lordanonymous

    Well said. Relying on nesta’s back to carry us to the scudetto line will be tough indeed. And Allegri not playing Yepes instead of Boner is absolutely criminal. Yepes with every opportunity given to him has not put a foot wrong this term despite being older than Bonera. He was actually a very good buy (free transfer).

    As far as the full back issues are concerned. I only see LB as a problem or if (touchwood) Abate gets injured. There are other make shift options available to Allegri like playing Mathiu Flamini in one of the full back position. He has been known to play there before but doesnt seem to like it.

    I do not think our backline would be secure even if we buy Criscito or Ziegler. They will certainly help going forward as they both are left footed but as far as defense is concerned their contribution is questionable.

    All in all the world today lacks quality full backs. :(

  • Franco

    Antonini should realize that when he stands in front of the Goalie in Milan colors he is standing at the very place greatness himself stood not so long ago.
    Bonera for crying out loud.. Just go and die. .

  • aamir

    Our defending woe continues Silva is glass man, Nesta is aging, lack of reliable back ups same old story. Besides looking at our bench Allegri seems to have lost all his hopes over Papa and not picking Yepes even after giving a string of good performances is a big question over his preference. Bonera ala king of versatility is shit in the air, cant tackle, awful marker and still he is our out and out second choice for RB,CB,LB is the most irking part atm Oddo and Yepes look much better than him

    Oguchi was bought only to sell shirts in the US after all those hype created in Confederations cup.

    LOL and we are bidding for a treble, things will only get from bad to worse if we dont get a improved LB and a reliable CB. as defenders win the championships not the strikers

  • Milan are on the verge of landing Ajax defender Urby Emanuelson.

  • aamir

    ^^
    PANIC BUY and he needs
    http://u.goal.com/60000/60074_hp.jpg

  • redNblack_blood

    @aamir– haha.. he is a makeshift defender.. will be playing on the wings most of the times..but if antonini doesn’t improve then expect him to go back at being a full back… btw yepes was a pleasant sight last night…. why in the world was bonera preferred over him by Max is difficult to understand.. i mean just look at the way he was defending knowing that Nesta is out and Silva is actually playing the role of a mid fielder thanks to the knock suffered by rinho while warming up for the match… brilliant work Mr. yepes…. it was nice to see Papa on the pitch as well.. agreed we were playing against weak opponents but the these guys played their heart out..abate has shown a tremendous improvement… nesta will not be their against lazio but i am praying that he comes back for the clash against spurs…. he has got 3 weeks to recover… oh n merda lost… up urs Leo.. :)

  • Parth Pandya

    I believe we are facing Catania next. Lazio is after that.

  • redNblack_blood

    i know that Mr.Pandya :) What i meant was he has been ruled out for 2-3 weeks so it pretty much means he is out till the Lazio match at least

  • Dinar

    I think Allegri is to be blamed for persisting with Bonera.

    Yes, Bonera has been crap and since the match against Roma has been downright awful, Cagliari, Udinese and than Lecce. But can’t expect him to say ‘No’ to start a match rather Allegri should have noticed his crap performances. Too bad, coz of him we drew against Udinese.

  • redNblack_blood

    @dinar- he gave away 2 goals 2 freaking goals out of 4 against Udinese… disgusting.. tsk tsk…

    And now with Nesta’s injury.. rumors linking Criscito have again refurnished… We can’t count out the baldy here, he is a transfer god… In the past he has come up with some outrageous bids and more often than not he has succeeded in executing them as well…
    In the “Golden Tie” we trust i say….
    come on baldy give us a WC LB before the window closes…

  • Dave

    I wouldn’t say Montelongo could be an Onyewu in the making. Bruno is considerably younger than Onyewu. He is a player in the early stages of development in the European game. Also, he did impress when he played in Dubai as midfield man, if you caught that game. Such is the reason he looks to be loaned to Bologna to gain first team experience, as he shows promise…. (Remember this is the same kid Manchester United was chasing before he arrived at Milan)… his Primavera performances haven’t gone overlooked either. This kid will be a Milan (or another top club’s) first teamer soon enough, I am sure of it.

  • redNblack_blood

    @ Dave – really hope what you are saying comes true.. cause we obviously lack quality starters in the FB position as well as quality replacements in the CB role.. although yepes and papa showed a really tight performance against Cesena in the last match.
    And as we talk Van Bommel has been signed by us as well… i hope in him we haven’t signed our very own Matrix.. :-|… but with the 3rd signing of a cup tied player (i think Bommel is cup tied.. but correct me if i am wrong) in this winter mercato we have given clear indications that scudetto is our prime focus …. I somehow want us to win the league more that CL…

  • with ziegler refusing to come, criscito is the answer ! And montelongo is honestly too green, a season of loaning him out could see him useful.he was afterall considered a great talent in the making not so long ago.
    As for right criscito is aaited at san siro

    Federica
    Dailymilan.com