A new era began at AC Milan on Sunday. Former great Clarence Seedorf made his coaching debut just days after announcing his retirement from professional football.
His first ever starting XI impressed a lot of people. For years, Milan supporters have been calling for a 4-2-3-1, as their personnel fits that system the best. That’s exactly what Seedorf fielded against Hellas Verona at the San Siro.
Keisuke Honda started his first game for his new team alongside Kaka and Robinho. Mario Balotelli started up front. It was a very positive looking lineup, the only questionable decision was starting Daniele Bonera and Cristian Zapata as the centre back pairing.
Verona were without Jorginho, who sealed a move to Napoli earlier last week, and their top goal scorer Luca Toni. They amount for 47% of the club’s goals (16/34). Nonetheless, they’re still a frustrating side to play against due to their swift counter attack and organized back line.
AC Milan dominated the majority of the match, but the first half was a continuous onslaught by the hosts. Balotelli, Robinho, and Kaka came the closest to scoring, but were stopped brilliantly by Rafael, who’s faced the second highest amount of shots in Serie A this season.
Honda thrived throughout the game. He created a team-high three chances and was accurate with 91% of his passes.
Even with Milan looking far more confident and free-flowing, the score remained 0-0 at halftime. Seedorf made his first substitution on 52 minutes, taking off Bonera for Matias Silvestre.
Verona recorded nine of their 13 attempts from that point in the match to full time. They nearly stole the opening goal through Juan Iturbe, but was stopped by Christian Abbiati in the bottom corner.
Just when it looked like the match was going to end 0-0, the Rossoneri caught a break. Alejandro Gomez hauled down Kaka in the penalty area, which resulted in a spot kick for Milan. Balotelli stepped up and made no mistake from 12 yards out. Just like that, the home side were in front.
That was the final result as Seedorf’s men earned their first victory in the Dutchman’s debut. It was also the club’s third win in 12 matches, they’re now seven points adrift of a top five spot. As for Hellas, they fall to sixth, but are level with Inter, who are fifth.
Watch the highlights here:
Other talking points
- Speaking of Milan, on-loan striker Alessandro Matri bagged a brace in his Fiorentina debut. The Viola defeated bottom feeders Catania 3-0 on Sunday afternoon. The Tuscans remain in fourth with 40 points, three behind Napoli for third.
- Roma won their second straight game since their loss to Juventus, this time they crushed Livorno 3-0, but it could’ve been far worse had it not been for a couple of offside calls. They’re still eight points behind league leaders Juventus and four above third.
- Juventus won their 12th straight match, which is the second longest streak in league history. They won 4-2 against a resilient Sampdoria side, who made life difficult for the Bianconeri. Arturo Vidal had a brace, while Paul Pogba impressed yet again as clubs like PSG monitor his performances.
- Bologna clawed back to draw 2-2 with Napoli. With the Partenopei set to complete a busy January transfer window, they’ll be hoping that these results evaporate and that they can solidify a top three spot.
- Genoa picked up a shock 1-0 victory over a struggling Inter side. That was the Grifone’s second victory in their last three fixtures after they went winless in five consecutive games. Meanwhile, the Nerazzurri have just one win in eight matches.
- 10 man Lazio grabbed a late 3-2 victory over a demoralized Udinese team. Despite playing a man down for over 35 minutes, the Biancocelesti managed to outscore the Zebrette 3-1 in that span to earn all three points.
Sassuolo 0-2 Torino; Chievo 1-2 Parma; Atalanta 1-0 Cagliari