Wednesday, October 29 th, 2014
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Inzaghi's role in the resurrection of Keisuke Honda
Milan coach granted more freedom of movement to the Japanese talent. A choice that's bearing fruits for the Rossoneri
by Mohamed Ezzat
The first Japanese to ever wear the Rossoneri jersey is displaying great performances in this first part of the season. Keisuke Honda is one of the best Serie A players so far with 2 assists and 6 goals in seven games. He is a pleasant surprise even for the most optimist Milan fan.

Premises were not as good as one could expect. Milan started the journey this season with the USA tour where they had a shocking performance. The team seemed at sixes and sevens and Honda too. His corner kick in the game against Valencia is still remembered as one of the worst ever in football's recent history (finding the video on the internet won't be difficult). But that was just a friendly game in the USA. Serie A is very different. And Honda proved to be perfectly aware of that.

The Japanese Samurai played in every game and he was the man of the match in the clash versus Hellas Verona. It seems that the 28-year old forward is possessed by the spirit of Captain Tsubasa! In a recent interview to Milan Channel before the game against Juventus, Honda said that “Mr Inzaghi gave us confidence and told us how we should behave in training and as a team. I don’t mind how I score, goals are goals, I’m always happy when I score and the best goal is the one yet to come.” Inzaghi's mindset is very offensive and he changed the mindset of the whole team reaching a 3-3-4 formation: a big change for a club that used to count on its strong defense which is no longer there.

Honda gives his best when he's deployed as a right forward as he's good in cutting inside to hit shots with his left foot. That's exactly what happened in the last game vs Verona, as Honda scored his second goal this way. That's the same position where he plays in the Japanese national team, his natural environment and a more fluid role if compared to the tactic tasks Seedorf assigned him in the past season, when the Japanese had less freedom of movement. In the last season in Rossonero, Honda's shot accuracy was a 13,7%, while it reached an astonishing 56,2% in the first seven Serie A games. It means that Honda has more chances to be dangerous for the opposite goalkeeper and he plays closer to the opponent's area (1,3 shots per game in the last 15 metres vs 1 shot only in the past season).

Milan is recovering as a team and that's cenrtainly helping the number 10, who had a bad debut season in 2013-2014, due to the bad atmosphere that permeated Milanello in that period.

“Honda needed some months to familiarize with Italian football – Milan's CEO Adriano Galliani said – we must consider that he came from another country, he didn't speak Italian and joined a team that was already struggling”. Things are changing, even in defense, the zone that gave the most headaches to Pippo Inzaghi. The team managed to maintain a good defensive positions, and this is thanks to Adil Rami and Alex, who played together for the second game in row. Maybe that's the best pair around in Rossonero?

The speed of Stephan El Shaarawy and the constant moving of Fernando Torres (even if they don't find the net) are opening spaces for the Japanese player to score. But we have to be careful: glorifying the Verona win could be misleading: the Gialloblù had an under par performance, maybe the worst in this season.

It’s only the seventh game in a long season: will Honda prove to be the number 10 than Milan is waiting for so long or will he fade again in shade as others did before him? 

Friday, October 24 th, 2014
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