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Cesena-Milan Preview: Focus

This season has had more than its fair share of distractions. Losing a teammate for the season to heart surgery, for example, might make it hard to focus. Or it could be a catalyst. But nothing makes it harder to focus than playing a relegation-zone team after a big win in the Champions League. And yet nothing is more important, especially if you aim to stay in the race for the league title. Focus.

Slightly more dangerous


Things have changed a bit since our last meeting in September. For one, this time means that they will have home field advantage. And their home field has a synthetic pitch. So our boys have been training on a new synthetic pitch at Milanello since Wednesday to prepare.

Plus, like most teams in relegation trouble, they have a new coach since we last saw them. Daniele Arrigoni replaced Marco Giampaolo who replaced Massimo Ficcadenti in the summer. Talk about needing focus. Also, in addition to adding Mutu over the summer, in the winter transfer market, they got the world cup-winning striker Iaquinta on loan from Juventus, even if he is in the waning years of his career. So it will be even more important for our defense to focus.

Will Arrigoni find a way to win?

Cesena only boast 4 wins all season. But last week they played a thriller vs. Lazio. Cesena were up 2-0 at the half, but then conceded 3 goals in the second half to hand Lazio the victory. For this match, Arrigoni lined up Antonioli, Rodriguez, Lauro, Comotto; Parolo, Santana, Colucci, Pudil, Ceccarelli; Mutu and Iaquinta. I would expect to see most of those faces tomorrow, too.

Welcome Muntari!

Milan, on the other hand are finally getting some players back to have some depth in the squad. Aquilani is expected to make the bench, as is new acquisition Muntari. Of course, we did lose Seedorf to injury for 4 weeks in the match on Wednesday. And Mexes suffered an ankle injury in training, so is very unlikely. But a probable lineup could be Abbiati; Abate, Nesta, Silva, Mesbah; Emanuelson, Ambrosini, Nocerino; Boateng; Maxi Lopez, Robinho.

Additionally, Ibra serves his 2nd suspension of his 3 match ban. But that is less worrisome vs. a team that has only kept 6 clean sheets all year. Scoring shouldn’t be as big of a problem, even against the oldest keeper in the league in Antonioli (who I still hae a lot of respect for.) Rather, it is important for us to keep a clean sheet. Also Antonini, Aquilani, Bonera, Mesbah, and Seedorf a will need to be cautious as they are each one card away from suspension.

From recognition to frustration to suspension

The original fixture saw Pippo come on in the 82nd minute. I wonder if Allegri would repeat that and give him a few? Nah, probably not. Also, you should know that in my mind’s eye, given that Cesena are the seahorses, I envision our Aquaman coming on and riding them like he rides his trusty seahorse in the comics. But then again, I lack focus.

This game looks easy on paper, but those are the ones that are never that easy. So we cannot afford to lose focus for even one minute this weekend if we are to keep the Scudetto for ourselves. So let’s hope our boys maintain their humility against Cesena. And focus.

Cesena vs. Milan
Sunday, February 19th • 15:00 CET (9am EST)
The match will be shown on RAI International and ESPN3 in the U.S.


This post inspired by the music of The Strokes