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Aug 2, 2014

Defence worries after Milan's US tour

As expected, Milan ended their disastrous International Champions Cup tournament with yet another defeat, as Liverpool secured a 2-0 victory courtesy of goals from Joe Allen and Suso on Saturday.

Nevertheless, as mentioned previously, it is important for Filippo Inzaghi to rally the players and ensure the disappointment doesn't linger for the rest of the preseason schedule.

- Gladwell: Alessio Cerci could leave Torino for Milan
- The Toe Poke: Mario Balotelli's "selfie" with pitch invaders

Although there are various factors to consider when assessing the Rossoneri's disappointing performances thus far on their U.S. tour, the message from both the coach and players has been clear, and they have assured the supporters they will be fully prepared by the start of the new Serie A season.

Ultimately, that is the most important thing, despite the humiliation the club might suffer in the short-term as a result of such defeats in their preseason obligations, but with the senior players returning from their extended holidays and the younger players adapting to life with the senior squad, this experience must be used to the benefit of all concerned.

Although there were some reassuring moments in attack, it is evident the problem still lies within the defensive line, and one of Inzaghi's biggest problems ahead of his first campaign in charge will be implementing organisation and solidity at the back.

It is unclear at this stage which preferred back-four the 40-year-old will adopt, but there is a general consensus that Christian Abbiati, Ignazio Abate and Mattia De Sciglio will occupy their respective positions for the foreseeable future.

That leaves the question of which duo will form the heart of the Milan defence, and ultimately there is a case to suggest Inzaghi will need to find a combination with the ability to read the game as well as the pace to cover any mistakes that will likely occur in that phase of the game.

Alex will most likely be the rock AC Milan's defence will be built around.

Despite his shaky appearances thus far, it can be assumed Alex will occupy one place in the starting lineup, given his experience and the likelihood the tempo of the Italian game will suit his characteristics in particular.

However, Inzaghi will play a dangerous game if he chooses to field either Adil Rami or Philippe Mexes alongside Alex, and ultimately that is where Cristian Zapata should enter the fray and become a regular in the Milan side.

The Colombian has undoubtedly had his fair share of problems since moving to San Siro, but if Inzaghi can extract the best of him while ensuring he is able to maintain his focus, Milan might well have a dependable defensive line to build upon when the new season starts against Lazio on August 31.

Any other pairing will likely result in a vulnerability to be exposed on the counterattack to pace and power, and with some promising signs further afield, it is expected the defence will continue to be the main area of concern for the club.

Despite the critics, this Milan team still picks itself in many aspects, but with Nigel De Jong returning to action sooner rather than later, the defensive line will receive some much needed protection moving forward, which will hopefully result in a solid base from which to work on in the league.

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