The 5 Stops Where AC Milan’s Scudetto Was Won

1. Signing Of Ibrahimovic

The two suspensions Ibrahimovic has recently received from the FIGC may have ruined everything Ibra did this season with Milan, but one must admit that once this guy was signed Milan suddenly became title contenders. His amazing solo displays in the first half of the season were more than enough to put Milan on top. He has been fundamental to Milan’s Scudetto winning season, and it’s his 8th consecutive league (Dutch – Italian – Spanish) title in a row. Not a coincidence at all.

The signing of Ibrahimovic was the start of a great season for Milan
The signing of Ibrahimovic was the start of a great season for Milan

2. AC Milan vs. Real Madrid

I know Real Madrid isn’t a Serie A team, but Milan’s match against them at San Siro was the start of a great season for Ignazio Abate. Many Milan supporters were upset that the fullback positions, which are pretty weak compared to the CBs Milan have, weren’t reinforced with better quality players. But, in the game against Real Madrid, Abate put an amazing performance (when compared to the performances he put before) to stop Cristiano Ronaldo (with the help of Gennaro Gattuso) and he never stopped improving from that game on. Soon, Milan had the formidable defense that won us the title.

3. Milan 3 – 1 Palermo (Round 11)

It was in this match that Milan clinched the very important 3 points to go on and top the league table. Allegri knew the importance of that match, claiming in his pre-match conference that it was Milan’s most important match of the season, and so it proved to be. The only downside of that match was the injury of Inzaghi ( who might feature in Milan’s next 2 Serie A matches) and the injury of Pato just before the derby.

Pato - Milan's Wonderkid
Pato - Milan's Wonderkid

4. Milan 3 – 0 Napoli (Round 27)

Milan were facing one of their competitors for the title and knew that it was bound to be a tough match. Yet, despite the great team Mazzari has made Napoli into, Milan’s Trio (Ibra, Boateng, Pato) proved to be too good for Napoli’s defense as they scored one each. This win gave Milan the confidence and the lead needed to eventually win the Scudetto.

5. Milan 3 – 0 Inter (Round 32)

Pre-match, no one thought that Milan would have it as easy as they did against their arch rivals. Everyone expected a very tough encounter (with the absence of Ibrahimovic), but a very very early Pato goal gave Milan the boost to maintain their lead, control the game, and eventually score two more to leave Inter happy they didn’t concede more.

Allegri's laugh says it all: Milan Scudetto #18

Ignazio-nale’s Chance

Since Prandelli’s made his Italy coaching debut last May, a position that caused him a headache was the right back position. In a little over six months, he has already tried Marco Motta, De Silvestri, Santon, Maggio and Cassani for the role. None of them has impressed so far to deserve a starting place. For a spot that is obviously up for grabs, it is hard to swallow that Abate didn’t get called up once.

Marco Motta, De Silvestri, Santon, Maggio and Cassani all have some characteristics in common. Each one of them has less than 10 caps for the senior national team and they have all featured at one time or another for at least one level of national youth teams. Abate has already played for Italy in the youth levels so he is halfway there and of the players mentioned, only Santon, Maggio, and Cassani weren’t given their debuts by Prandelli.

From the ones given their debuts by Prandelli, Marco Motta doesn’t even start for a struggling Juventus, with an 18 year old makeshift right back with no first team experience that goes beyond this season starting over him.

While De Silvestri hasn’t proven his early hype so far. Failure with Lazio made him switch to Fiorentina and despite starting almost regularly under Prandelli, he has had to prove himself all over again for Mihajlovic. He has only started to play regularly after the winter break, with a spell as a make-shift left back due to Pasqual’s injury.

The youngest of the bunch, Santon, wasn’t a regular under Benitez and mostly played out of position. He only started to see minutes when he was loaned to Cesena. Maybe Prandelli prefers Santon due to his versatility, as he could play at ease on both flanks. He could even prefer him as he is younger and has greater potential, therefore could be one for the future.

So if it is understandable that Santon merits a spot, due to his potential and versatility, this still leaves a spot open for one of Maggio and Abate, since Cassani is injured. Firstly, Maggio is 29 while Abate is 24, therefore the age factor is with Abate. Secondly, Maggio plays in a three man defense system, which means that Maggio generally plays with less worries defensively opposed to Abate who has proven his defensive qualities by solidifying himself as a starting fixture in Italy’s best defense line, as well as by successfully marking world class players in the form of Ronaldo and Eto’o.

The last point is that while some might argue that Maggio is a better threat offensively, whose to say that Abate won’t get there? A year and a half ago, Abate was a mediocre midfielder who spent most of his career in Italy’s lower leagues. The improvement he has had over the past year is an example set to others, on what one could achieve with hard work and passion. To think that only close to a year ago Abate started training as a defender and now he is a guaranteed starter in Italy’s top of the table team. Doesn’t that guarantee him at least a chance with the national team?

In the Prandelli era there has been an obvious lack of talent that led to calling up many ‘oriundi’ and giving debuts to mid table team players, proving that this indeed is a transition period for Italy. With so many players getting chances to prove whether they are of international quality or no, it is hard to argue that Milan’s right back doesn’t deserve an opportunity, especially in a position that is still up for grabs.