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Gamble backfires for Milan

AC Milan
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Sumeet Paul blog profile  By Sumeet Paul

AC Milan's midfield problems highlighted in narrow Empoli win

Goals from Carlos Bacca, second from left, and Luiz Adriano, far right, helped AC Milan sneak past Empoli on Saturday.

AC Milan picked up their first points of the season on Saturday night as they narrowly defeated Empoli 2-1 at the San Siro. While Sinisa Mihajlovic will be relieved to get his first points on the board, it was a far from convincing display from the Rossoneri.

The Serbian tactician made some surprise selection choices with the inclusion of Antonio Nocerino and Suso in the starting lineup. Ultimately, however, the move ended up backfiring on him.

Both midfielders were eventually withdrawn -- with...

 By Terry Daley

Roma-Juventus match protests from ultras detracts from Serie A clash

While ESPN FC's Stevie Nicol says that next week's match-up between Juventus and Roma can go either way, Craig Burley thinks that last year's Champions League finalist need a formidable challenge in Serie A.

Roma are not one of Serie A's traditional powerhouses. The league's base of operations is, both literally and figuratively, up north, where the big three of Juventus, AC MIlan and Inter play. It is, or at least was, where all the money is, where players and managers went when they wanted to make that step up to the big time. Despite having the fanbase, the money, one of the game's iconic No. 10s in Francesco Totti and one of the world's most famous capital cities as home, Roma have spent the majority...

Juventus and Roma's Serie A title credentials already under scrutiny

While ESPN FC's Stevie Nicol says that next week's match-up between Juventus and Roma can go either way, Craig Burley thinks that last year's Champions League finalist need a formidable challenge in Serie A.
ESPN FC's Raf Honigstein believes Juventus are merely testing the waters for Paul Pogba and not seriously considering offers this transfer window.
The pressure is intense on Juve and Roma managers Massimiliano Allegri and Rudi Garcia ahead of this weekend's clash.

Only five Scudetto-winning teams in history have opened the season with a defeat. All of them came under the Mole Antonelliana in Turin, and it's something of a Torino trademark. The Granata have pulled it off three times, while neighbours Juventus have also done it twice. The last time they did it in a curtain-raiser of a campionato was in 1974-75.

No wonder Max Allegri and the club are not panicking. "Serie A is a marathon, not the final of the 100m," he reminded everyone after Juventus opened...

Mario Balotelli's Milan return creates another problem for Mihajlovic to solve

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti breaks down the news that Mario Balotelli has passed a medical for a loan move to AC Milan.
ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno shares his thoughts on the number of opportunities and playing time Mario Balotelli was afforded at Liverpool.

"I won't talk about players I don't coach," Sinisa Mihajlovic said, bristling. "It's useless you asking me these questions."

So it wasn't true, then, that a covert meeting had taken place with Mario Balotelli behind the tinted windows of a black van in a Florence, Italy, car park 20 minutes from Milan's hotel the night before Milan's Serie A curtain raiser against Fiorentina? "No," Mihajlovic replied. In today's game, a football manager must be both a diplomat and a spy.

Milan's chief executive Adriano...

Sumeet Paul blog profile  By Sumeet Paul

Milan give Mario Balotelli a last chance at success

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti breaks down the news that Mario Balotelli has passed a medical for a loan move to AC Milan.
ESPN FC's Steve Nicol and Alexis Nunes discuss whether Mario Balotelli can find his goal-scoring touch with AC Milan, as reports suggest he is set to return to the San Siro on a season-long loan.
ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno shares his thoughts on the number of opportunities and playing time Mario Balotelli was afforded at Liverpool.

Mario Balotelli's move to Liverpool was always going to end in disappointment. For all his quality, something just didn't feel right about the Italian ace's fit with the club and there was an air of inevitability that he would be criticised by supporters and the media alike.

While he would have certainly contributed to the problem, the £16m move to Merseyside can essentially be described as a failure. Fast forward 12 months and Balotelli's return to Milan is imminent; he's going back to a...

 By Mina Rzouki

Juventus miss Pirlo, Vidal and Tevez as Udinese claim shock Serie A victory

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti reacts to Juventus' shock defeat to Udinese on the opening day of the Serie A season.

Juventus lost 1-0 to Udinese on Sunday to taste defeat for the first time ever at home on the opening day of the season. The home record also went up in smoke -- after 46 home matches, the hosts were left empty-handed.

It happened when it was least expected, and Udinese executed the most basic facets to the Italian game: a tight and organised defence and a ruthless counterattack.

It is clear the champions have not woken up from their summer slumber, and in the absence of collective brilliance, no...