Our formidable strikeforce
Since I've just written an article assessing our midfield, I will continue with another article on our strikers.
Our strike force of Eto'o-Milito-Pandev had the chance to play alongside each other for the first time against Cagliari on 7th Feb 2010. The understanding that the strikers had was just unbelievable considering this was the first time the three of them officially played in a competitive match.
Even Balotelli is playing well at the moment. His recent displays had been positive and gave great problems to a defender like Chiellini when he was playing against Juventus. Mourinho even echoed these feelings by saying "if i were an opponent, i would be afraid of our strikers at the moment". Yes, they are in red hot form. Yes, the understanding between all of them are fantastic. But wait, which of the strikers should be in the starting line-up then?
When questioned, Mourinho said this is a "beautiful problem" to have. I cannot agree with him even more. Lets have a brief look at our 4 strikers.
Many have doubted his move to the Nerazzuri. His age and his lack of involvement in big clubs made him a risky signing. How wrong could it be to doubt the 'El Principle'.
Top scorer. Lethal finishing. Deceptively quick. Extremely hard-working. Good control of the ball even when it seems difficult. Impeccable timing when it comes to making runs off the last defender. Whats most striking is his ability to link up intricate play and still be able to get to the end of things by striking the ball into the back of the net. Seriously, what more can you ask for?
In a way, he has proven to be a more than capable replacement for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. I'm not saying this because I hate Ibra.. I love Ibra. It is just my personal opinion that Milito is actually doing a much better job than Ibra. It's fine if you don't agree.
Why do I say so is because of Milito's hunger. His ability to show up in big games is priceless. The goals in the Milan derby.. Dynamo Kiev (CL) were so impt. to us and he would be our secret weapon if we are to do well in CL this season.
Definitely a starter.
Not having the start we all wanted. Brought into the club in a swap deal with Ibra which makes it inevitable for fans or media to compare both of them. Look, both of them are not doing very well in their respective clubs either.
9 goals in 23 appearances this season in all competitions is actually not a bad statistic considering the fact that this is first season in defensive Serie A and we did not do very well in CL qualifying group as well. However, all of us have come to the realization that his finishing is not as good as what the media proclaime as "clinical". He fluffs up chances when it is actually more easy to score (e.g. Cagliari shot -> rebound -> Pandev).
Finishing might not be his best attribute. However, his punctuality in big matches (i.e. except both games against Barca when he was basically dreaming) cannot be underestimated. His pace, control and runs are a lethal weapon to us. Mourinho plays him in a free role instead of an upfront goal poacher like Milito. He tracks back often to link-up with the midfield. This is how Mourinho views him. Mou sees him as a "dummy runner" who goes all around the place, making him difficult to mark and opening up spaces for other teammates.
Against Cagliari he did not play too well. But i saw his impact on the game. Drifted left, right and appears in the middle. Tracked back all the time to help out with the defense and when it mattered, he linked up well with Pandev before the assist to Milito. His form at the moment might not be very good but Mourinho would view his speed and work rate highly. He can only get better.
Definitely a starter.
The best buy in the January window. Not because of the price-tag (i.e. free) but because of his impact. He would have still been the best signing if he cost us 20 million. The fact that he arrived on a free just made everything so much sweeter.
No signs of any rust for a player to be out for 5 months of competitive football. Totally frozen out of the Lazio squad and we have to thank Lotito for it. Look at his hunger now. He is playing like a person who has just rediscovered the joy of playing, a person whose anger and frustration could finally be vented out, a person who can finally show the football world what he is capable of.
In just 7 appearances, he has already 3 goals and 3-5 assists (i.e. depending on how you view it) under his belt. On top of that, he formed an immediate telephatic understanding with Milito. The play between both of them against Cagliari and the Milan derby was just orgasmic at times to watch.
Great technique and vision. Very good dribbling skills and a player who is suited for tight control situations. He has shown his versatility at the wings , as a striker, and lately as an attacking midfielder or defensive striker. His qualities are very unique and is remarkably a different kind of striker compared to Eto'o and Milito. His current form makes him a very dangerous player for opponents at the moment.
Definitely a starter.
Finally, its the 'prodigal child'. Much have been said about his attitude, work-rate, foolishness (i.e. one neurone - that's extremely funny by the way) and maturity levels. But one cannot deny his physical and technical attributes.
I can be daring to say no strikers at his age level is as good or even close to his standard. His physical presence is actually the greatest in all the 4 strikers we have at the moment. His performance against Chiellini is just one of the many examples. Against Palermo, he basically just overpowered both the defenders and was causing havoc all the day long.
However, we all know... talent alone is not enough. Although he is physically the strongest when compared to our 3 other strikers, he is arguably our most ineffective striker at times. His mobility on the wings is an annoying issue. His lack of tracking back is an annoying issue. His constant diving is unneccessary. His cross-overs are not very tricky as well.
All these only happens when you play Balo as a winger. Not a natural winger.. he lacks the mobility and the understanding of his defensive responsibility. Playing him as a pure centre forward would not really solve the defensive issue as strikers have to defend as well in Mourinho's tactics. But at least, his lack of tracking back is not that major a problem.
His strength.. when used against centre backs can really be a potent weapon. Furthermore, he is truly unpredictable. Playing him might seem to be placing a time-bomb in your own pocket, but when he does show up.. his impact cannot be underestimated.
Lastly, his maturity levels are a concern. He might think that not celebrating a goal is "cool". But i feel that this shows a lack of passion. If you truly love the sport and if you truly want to win badly, how can you not celebrate? His lack of passion and commitment is not only evident by the fact that he doesnt celebrate. The way he walks, jogs, dives and complains already shows it. I might be judgmental when writing this.. but I feel it is a question of maturity. People have commented it is because of racism.. it is not easy to grow up in a foreign country.. but i beg to differ. If so, he should be working hard to prove people wrong and he is good enough for the Italian squad. He should be working towards the direction of combating racism.
I personally feel his actions reflect a mindset of "I am the best in the world". He doesnt really care if people boos him or not. He doesnt really care if he scores or not, afterall its "expected for me to score". Why do I have to celebrate? His complacency levels are ridiculously high and would require great rehabilitation and brain-washing from Mourinho.
Nonetheless, he is a great asset to us and maturity levels can only come with time and age. Show him more love and hopefully with love, he can learn some humility. With humility, comes self-sacrifice and that is what we need from him. He would definitely be the best striker in the world in years to come and we should never ever let him go. If not, its time for regret. Right here, right now.. he would be our:
Bench-warmer and learn !
The trident of Pandev-Milito-Eto'o has to continue. It would not be wise to let any of them lose their match fitness or sharpness before the Chelsea tie. They should only play more together to gather more experience and be familiar with each other. The only problem that can occur is the return of Sneijder and Pandev would be pushed back to the wing which he would be more ineffective as compared to the central role offered against Cagliari.
Playing with Sneijder Pandev Milito Eto'o would be very attacking and would require great distances covered by the defensive midfielders who can win the second balls in order to prolong our attacking moves. Cambiasso would not fit into this category (i.e. covered in my previous article) and I can see Stankovic and J.Zanetti doing a good job as 2 DMs.
I would propose a line-up of:
It would be a 4-3-3 without wingers. Let Pandev and Eto'o drift inwards giving space for Maicon and Santon. Pandev and Sneijder would then be able to rotate the attacking midfielder role when required. These are my thoughts. Comment if you want. Hope you enjoyed the long article.
Last edited by YgYgYg; 08 Feb 10 at 10:04.
Man INTER's IT team should see this and post it on inter.it/players page...
great work.. keep it up..
Totally agree on the "Playing with Sneijder Pandev Milito Eto'o" part..
Cant wait to see these 4 plays week in week out,...........
Great post mate. You described our strikers with precision. But, I don't agree we should play with Milito, Eto'o, Pandev & Sneijder. I think that playing like that, we won't have balance. After all, we really struggled when playing like that. Ok, we never really tried to play like that in a long run, but I think it just could not work.
Milito and Eto'o are both center forwards. Eto'o is not playing as we expected because he is played out of his position. He is no Ibra and can't in perform that kind of role. He is also no winger. We can't play Pandev, Milito and Eto'o as pure forwards, as it won't work. Milito and Eto'o would be stepping on each others feet, Pandev is not a center forward and have other characteristics, as you said. Also, Sneijder would we isolated in midfield containing just 3 players, and would not find space to play his game. And what about defence?
Let's be honest, we would have to change our style of play. We would have to push our defence very high, we would have to play a possession football(which we can't with our midfield) and Eto'o would be sacrified again by playing as a winger and far from goal. Milito is a center forward, but he needs a partner in a attack, and Pandev is much more suitable than Eto'o.
For me, our best formation remains 4 3 1 2. We are good at counters, very formidable in defence, and clinical in attack. And, Pandev & Milito would be my first choice. Pandev is a great striker, he is so good for Eto'o's position, and Milito is much more clinical than Eto'o. That's my oppinion, and we will see real Eto'o only in his natural position. As for Balotelli, he doesn't deserve to wear our shirt, as he is a disgrace.