Malaga set to put Milan turnaround to the test
AC Milan could find out if they have truly turned a corner in what has been a turbulent season when Champions League Group C leaders Malaga visit the San Siro on Tuesday.
Milan were lucky to escape with only a 1-0 defeat when an attacking Malaga side sent out by Chilean coach Manuel Pellegrini dominated the Italians at La Rosaleda a fortnight ago.
This season Massimiliano Allegri's side have floated between mediocrity, prompting club owner Silvio Berlusconi to hit out at tactical choices, and a level which suggests they may be about to confound their critics.
After a chaotic 2-2 draw away to Palermo on Tuesday, Milan's best and most promising result this season was a 5-1 victory over struggling Chievo on Saturday. For Allegri, it gave glimpses of the Rossoneri's potential.
"We still have improvements to make in some areas but we're going in the right direction and hopefully we will make something of this season, which didn't start well for us," said Allegri.
If players like Bojan Krkic, Stephan El Shaarawy and Urby Emanuelson put the finishing touches on the work of Milan's midfield as they did on Saturday, Milan's Champions League campaign may be about to get back on track.
Former Barcelona forward Bojan, playing in the 'hole' as part of a 4-2-3-1, had his best Milan outing to date, scoring his maiden goal for the club in a busy performance which also seen him inspire Milan's fifth scored by striker Giampaolo Pazzini.
Dutch right winger Emanuelson added to Riccardo Montolivo's early strike and El Shaarawy scored his eighth goal in 11 games to reinforce his lead as Serie A's top scorer.
In Group C, however, Milan have only four points from three games having scored three and conceded as much.
Emanuelson says only one result will matter for the Rossoneri.
"We'll need to beat Malaga because we need the points in the Champions League," he told http://www.acmilan.com/. "Malaga are a good team and might come to Milan playing a bit more defensively."
Whether defence is Malaga's best approach or not is unknown but they have scored seven goals and conceded none in their three group wins so far.
With that record, it would be hard to imagine Malaga not piercing the Milan defence, although Allegri can take heart from the fact that no less than five Milan players scored on Saturday -- a significant statistic given that El Shaarawy's goals have saved them more than once this season.
One of the keys for Milan's success, according to Allegri, is being able to choose the right players at the right time for the right opponent -- and he will have that luxury on Tuesday, if there are no casualties at training Monday.
"It's important to be able to choose the right Milan," he said after the Chievo win. That came less than a week after Berlusconi telephoned club CEO Adriano Galliano to complain of Allegri's tinkering in midweek.
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