Scathing attacks were launched towards Allegri, everyone was aghast. Valter Birsa had only amassed nine appearances for Genoa, yet on the 31st of August he was plying his trade for one of the biggest clubs in the world.
As part of a swap deal which saw Luca Antonini head the other way, there was a consensus that the Slovenian was surely destined to fail. After match-winning performances against Udinese and Sampdoria, the ‘Maradona of Nova Gorica’ is proving doubters wrong.
His enthusiasm and will to contribute to this lackadaisical Milan side has made him one of the few players to be praised by the Milan faithful. On Sunday, when the Rossoneri suffered a defeat to the hands of Parma at the Tardini, Birsa was one of the few bright points.
The maelstrom of Milan’s defending has meant that on some occasions the Slovenian had to track back, and even more so, rise to the occasion and score. Balotelli was suspended, Kaka was absent, and Robinho and Matri were unable to find form. It was Birsa who was the paradigm of a fighter. The stats prove my point, courtesy of the StatsZone app:
Minutes Played 68
Passes Received 27
Shots (On Target) 4(2)
Chances Created 1
Aerial Duels (Defensive) 1/2
Balls Recovered (Defensive) 5
Minutes Played 66
Passes Received 29
Shots (On Target) 2(2)
Chances Created 0
Aerial Duels (Defensive) 1/1
Balls Recovered (Defensive) 4
Minutes Played 90+5
Passes Received 43
Shots (On Target) 2(0)
Chances Created 4
Aerial Duels (Defensive) 4/5
Balls Recovered (Defensive) 3
These stats emphasise Birsa’s importance; to say that two shots on target is poor is wrong. The total shots on target in the Sampdoria game was six, so in actual fact the two shots on target Birsa had equates to about a third of the total shots on target between the two sides.
Even if the Slovenian didn’t have a shot on target in the Parma game, he created four chances. If we have another look at his impressive record defensively, we should come to a conclusion that not only is he good attacking-wise, but there isn’t any negligence of defensive duties as well. Which is definitely one of the reasons why Allegri chose him in the starting line-up to face Barcelona.
With Keisuke Honda now arriving in January, whether or not Birsa will maintain his place in the starting line-up is unknown. Surely though, the 'Maradona of Nova Gorica' is proving to be a decent acquisition.
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