There were two matches in Italy on Saturday as Serie A fans kept one eye on Parma v AC Milan and Udinese v Cesena while the other eye began to look to Sunday's Derby d'Italia featuring Inter Milan and Juventus. While the San Siro will host the weekend's biggest match, it was the Stadio Ennio Tardini in Parma that saw Milan reach the summit of the league, at least for a day.
Massimiliano Allegri elected to stick with his 4-3-3 which features a three-pronged attack of Ronaldinho and Robinho either side of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Andrea Pirlo attempted to pull the strings for the Rossoneri from the middle while Clarence Seedorf supported to his left. Gennaro Gattuso ran around in midfield as well.
Hernon Crespo led the line for Parma directly in front of Antonio Candreva while Parma's 4-2-3-1 failed to find that balance needed to dominate possession and find a break through.
A back and forth match was disrupted by Andrea Pirlo's strike in the 25th minute which defied gravity as it knuckle-balled itself into the top right corner of Antonio Mirante's goal, a true moment of class from Pirlo who proved he still has a trick or two up his sleeve.
In the 36th minute, Mirante controlled the controllable as he saved three successive close range shots from the momentarily defunct Ibrahimovic. Although they only managed the one goal, Milan's attack, while still not brilliant, continued to create chances yet lacked the killer instinct needed to finish Parma decisively.
What Milan did well, Parma struggled with. Pasquale Marino elected to bring on Bulgarian striker Valeri Bojinov yet his introduction had little impact on the proceedings. The Ducali simply lacked enough quality in the final third to produce any game changing moments.
Parma made multiple attempts late on to try and win a penalty as players continually went down in the box with minimal contact. Their pressure was effective without being too dangerous. Milan's back line held well and ultimately sprung a great chance in the 80th which put Ronaldinho in with a decent chance to double the lead for MIlan. The Brazilian pushed his shot wide.
Largely a quiet game interspersed with moments of penalty box danger, one got the feeling that MIlan's one goal lead still wouldn't be enough for three points and the chance to go top, if only for a day. MIlan's star-studded attack, at least this time, did enough for the win. Robinho looks rusty while Ibrahimovic seems to lack the sharpness in front of goal and simply, good finishing. The rest of the aging Milan side will unlikely be able to produce enough quality performances throughout the season for Milan to be considered a serious title contender this year, yet it's early and stranger things have happened in Italian football.
- In the day's only other match, Udinese left it late but grabbed all three points at home, their first of the season against fast starting Cesena, 1-0. In a match bereft of much quality, Medhi Benatia scored the winner in the 93rd when he found the ball at his feet from a Bernardo Corradi header. Udinese however remain bottom of the table on four points.