Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughRossoneri Rising - Serie A update - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Rossoneri Rising - Serie A update - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Rossoneri Rising – Serie A update

Watching Milan march into Verona and stamp their authority at the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi in soggy conditions and come away with all three points after a 1-0 win reminded me of the day when I sat glued to a screen for over 3 hours, following the life story of Judah Ben Hur.

The similarities in the fortunes of AC Milan this season and those of the movie’s main character were all too vivid to ignore. In the 1959 multiple Oscar-winning motion picture, Ben Hur, played to perfection by Charlton Heston, starts off as a dashing prince dripping with charm and influence. But after a false accusation, he finds himself a slave languishing in the bowels of a Roman galley. However, events conspire in his favour with time and he becomes a champion charioteer. He even gets to enjoy the revenge he had thirsted for all his life, vanquishing Messala, his arch-nemesis on the horse track in an unforgettable 9-minute scene.

As Massimiliano Allegri watched his boys comfortably outplay Chievo Verona on their own patch, he must have felt a measure of vindication similar to that the all-conquering Ben Hur felt as the architect of his suffering succumbed to his mortal wounds. The 1-0 score line did not do justice to the dominance the young Milan team showed but it kept the Rossoneri pressure on league leaders Juventus. Yes, they’re 11 points behind the Old Lady in third, and with but eight games remaining, seemingly chasing a lost cause. But if you consider that this same Milan were wallowing in the bottom half of the table at some point in the season, pondering life outside Europe, their position now is testament to a remarkable turnaround.

Reflect carefully and you will remember that not too long ago, there were calls for Allegri’s head on a silver platter practically every weekend. What was he thinking letting the spine of his team go, furnishing arch-rivals Juventus with such an asset as the ageless Andrea Pirlo? Filling the dressing room with petulant youths unable to manage even their hair? Inconsistency plagued the Rossoneri before 2012 drew to a close and this period saw them crumble to a series of painful losses, including a 1-0 defeat in the Milan derby. And apart from the maturing Stephan El Sharaawy, the rest of Milan’s forwards seemed to be firing blanks.

But 2013 has seen AC Milan transform itself from the football equivalent of Jekyll and Hyde into a formidable force able to even throw shackles on the inhuman Lionel Messi while handing Barcelona one of their rare defeats of the 2012/13 season. The club is yet to suffer a Serie A defeat since January and the only time they’ve failed to score in the league this year was in a goalless draw at Sampdoria. Like the dying Messala, Allegri’s critics have been forced to eat humble pie and hail the young manager as the unflinching genius who has successfully masterminded Milan’s transition. Of the Rossoneri starting XII, only Massimo Ambrossini and Christian Abiatti remain from the golden generation steered by Carlo Ancelotti. The arrival of Mario Balotelli in January has further galvanised Milan’s hungry youngsters and with such talents as M’baye Niang’ slowly finding their feet, opponents will surely dread the sight of the red-and-black jersey next season.     

Phil Kimonge