By Mohamed Smaili
AC Milan of Massimiliano Allegri and Real Madrid of Jose Mourinho began the season with very definite ideas about their tactical strategies... but on Tuesday, that pattern will change.
Los Merenges with their 4-2-3-1, Higuain supported by a line of three midfielders (Cristiano Ronaldo, Ozil, Di Maria)… while the Rossoneri were betting on ex-coach Leonardo’s 4-3-3 with Ronnie and Pato on the left and right but with a big difference of Ibrahimovic conducting the attack.
By judging those weekend's games, it is possible that they both slip away from this pattern a bit in the clash of Tuesday for the Champion's League in Bernabeu. Keeping the pieces but changing the approach.
On the ride through Malaga, Real Madrid had Ronaldo and Higuain working more like an attacking duo. In some kind of 4-1-3-2, Di Maria was called-up on the left and Khedira covering up the right side of the pitch while Alonso was responsible for marking in front of the defense.
The combinations on the same side between Di Maria and Ronaldo with eventual support of Marcelo gave nice results, and the aggressive flow of Real Madrid's attack came very easily. So much that Ronaldo was the protagonist of the game, participating in all four goals, scoring twice and assisting Higuain twice. It's worth noticing his growing understanding with team-play-maker Ozil.
Although the repetition of the effectiveness of this strategy against Milan is more of a hypothesis than fact, to prey on the decaying Zambrotta can be a great alternative for Mourinho's men.
Allegri on the other hand, has been trying to change the formation of the offensive trident with a 4-3-1-2… basically changing Ronaldinho's positioning to act behind Pato and Ibra more freely, instead of being restricted to the left flank. That's how it was in the 3-1 over Chievo, with Pato scoring twice, both assisted by the towering Swedish.
More than favoring Ronaldinho, the change actually helps the two strikers who already have complementary characteristics and takes advantage of the space left by one to the other. The trio of midfielders work very similar to the Ancelotti times, highlighting the comeback of Gattuso, who was not too convincing in the Leonardo era.
Robinho, as expected, is only a valid option on the bench. Let’s forget the delirious ideas of a quartet that would only work in video games, unbalancing a team that already suffers to find defensive consistency. A quality which Mourinho almost guarantees in his teams, this gives a slight advantage to Real on Tuesday.