Italian Football Kicks Off in China (AC Milan vs Inter)

The news of Wesley Sneijder switching his Manchester preferences didn’t seem to bother him from scoring a wonderful free kick. It wasn’t enough in the Milan derby played on Chinese soil, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kevin Prince-Boateng gave AC Milan the 2-1 lead and win, winning their sixth Supercoppa Italiana and first since 2004.

Italian football is in a deep rut, when it comes to the success in the Champions League. Milan won in 2007, Inter in 2010, but it feels like the rest of the continents is moving ahead or catching up while the Serie A continues to trot in place, far and distant from the days it was the best in Europe. The quality isn’t there, and gone are the days of steel defense and iron tactics. Italian soccer became not only unattractive, but just inferior, and uninteresting to a point.

Milan winning the title last season gave some hope and a new breath of life to the league. No more Inter dominance, as Mourinho decided to bolt and try his luck and mojo with Real Madrid. AC Milan did need 45 minutes to get a grip on the match today, but when they played well, it was great to watch. Inter did have their moments in the first half, but they just don’t look like a team with enough tools and ability to best the Rossoneri.

Inter’s three centre back line did grab and beat up Zlatan for an entire half. As long as Seedorf and Robinho couldn’t break free from the defensive midfielders, it seemed hopeless. But one brilliant Robinho chip was enough to equalize. Pato coming in for him finished the job. I like Milan in a 4-4-2 with no wingers, as Abata and Zambrotta are in charge of breaking along the flanks. The second striker, Robinho or Pato, whoever plays off Ibra, usually escapes to the sides.

For Inter, it looks like the gradual decay since peaking in the 2010 Champions League final is continuing. Fresh young talent is brought along, but right now, it won’t be enough for local or European glory. A weak midfield more imposed on breaking legs and hoping Sneijder and Eto’o deal with things on their own can’t dominate and succeed against quality sides. AC Milan aren’t a top European side just yet, but they’re getting there. Kevin Prince-Boateng had a fantastic game, and his ability to be more consistent this year, with Seedorf’s usual effusiveness while Gattuso and Van Bommel do the (really) dirty work, will be a huge key in Milan’s potential success.

This looks like another year that AC Milan will rule. None of the other “challengers” did enough to get stronger. Juventus, Roma, Lazio. They can bother Allegri’s side, but not in the long run. Ibrahimovic is the best striker in the world, as long as he keeps his cool. And Pato. Wonderful to watch when he feels confident. One of those players where it’s all about his first play. If it goes well, we’re in for a brilliant display. When it doesn’t, he looks lost, weak and lost. Like in the Copa America.