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Duel in Dubai

So it has come to pass that the time for the Dubai Challenge Cup is upon us. For teams like AC Milan and Paris St. Germain (PSG), who are both sponsored by Emirates, it is an exhibition game conveniently tied into their winter training in Dubai. But for Milan fans, it’s time for the return of Gattuso and Pippo! That’s right, Gattuso playing for the first time since his nerve problem with his eye, and Pippo playing for the first time since Allegri let him out of the dungeon.

Release the Champions.

Milan won the Dubai Challenge Cup in 2009 vs. Hamburger SV on a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw. Milan also won last year vs. Al Ahli, 2-1, which gives them a 2-0 record for this tournament. This time, Allegri seems to be looking at it more as a training session, promising to play all fit players who traveled with the team, or as he put it 2 teams, one for each half. The players who are in Dubai who will not feature due to fitness or precaution are Abate, Boateng, Seedorf, and Roma.

Meanwhile, all the buzz is about Carlo Ancelotti, having taken the reins at PSG just a few short days ago, and now facing his former club. I love Ancelotti, but with all of the hype people are forgetting his relatively high profile assistant, one Claude Makelele, who wreaked havoc as a defender for France, PSG, Chelsea, Real Madrid, etc. Perhaps he will be Ancelotti’s French Tassotti? No one could ever actually be the real Tassotti.

"Milan fans hate you already, Leo. If you can get me Pato, PSG fans will worship you."

Anyway, it’s too early for Ancelotti to have made enough impact on the squad to be a credible threat to Milan, even if Allegri is more focused on playing time than winning. Not that PSG can’t win, they absolutely can, but it just seems like Milan are taking this very literally as an exhibition game, not worried at all about the trophy. Also, I would expect Ancelotti will also use this as a chance to get to see what his new team can do in a game without any pressure of winning. So I hope we don’t disappoint our sponsors and the good people of Dubai.

Relaxed beachgoers are an ironic backdrop for our hardworking boys.

Certainly, I am very excited to be able to see all of our players get some playing time. For players like Inzaghi, it could possibly be his last match in a Milan jersey. So if he scores, we win in my book, even if the scoreline says otherwise. Likewise, to see our gritty Gattuso back on the pitch and chasing down the enemy will be like a victory in and of itself.

While this match has been pumped up in the media, especially with the change of coaches at PSG, I am just excited to see some Rossoneri football again, and glad that Allegri has chosen not to risk a few players with our match against Atalanta coming up on Sunday. Exhibition matches are fantastic for players to be able to relax and enjoy themselves, which makes it even more enjoyable for us fans.


The Dubai Challenge Cup exhibition game AC Milan vs. PSG is on
Wednesday January 4, 2012 7:30pm AST or 10:30am EST*
This match is NOT being broadcast on TV in the US,
but will be shown by Mediaset so check for streams.
*Sorry for time confusion from previous posts

(Full match previews & reviews will return for the Atalanta match on Sunday)


This post inspired by the music of The Cure’s “Staring At the Sea” album