Gattuso right to ponder Abate-Calabria duel

Ahead of the derby, Gattuso has a key role in choosing the right starting eleven for such an important game, although really only one position seems to be unknown on the eve of the Derby Della Madonnina. 

The long-awaited clash will take place at San Siro tomorrow evening, with Inter being the designated home side this time out. This edition of the derby has received an extra boost thanks to the arrival of special striker at Milan this summer, creating the inevitable duel between the two Argentinian forwards, Higuain and Icardi. 

However, a derby of this calibre also brings internal duels with it. For Milan, there has really only been one position which remains open: the right-back spot. Thus far, Ignazio Abate and Davide Calabria have alternated for Gattuso’s confidence, with the latter being rested much more as of late. This has to do with the fact that Abate, who is now 31-years-old, has upped his game while adding much-needed experience to the side.

During today’s press conference, Gattuso revealed that it is indeed a tough decision to make, although his mind is already set unless anything unexpected comes up.

“Abate or Calabria? We’ll see, but I have already made up my mind. It’s not a decision based on experience, we must think about who’s in better condition and who feels the pressure less,” said Gattuso. 

Making an educated guess, based on the quote above, Calabria will get the chance from start tomorrow, even though he played in both of Italy’s U-21 games during the International break. However, then again, it would make sense if Abate is favoured ahead of the youngster, given that he stayed at home with the team to train during the week.

Many Milan fans will be shaking their heads if Abate indeed gets to start, which in my view would be harsh. The Italian has had a few shocking performances in recent years, though this season we really haven’t seen much of this. It almost seems like Gattuso has managed to rejuvenate his career, which is fortunate for Milan as the only other right-back alternative (bar Calabria), Andrea Conti, is injured.

Comparing the two, Abate and Calabria are very different, and thus Gattuso’s decision will come down much to his game plan for tomorrow. Should he decide to focus more on defending, then Abate is an obvious choice, while in terms of the attack Calabria does offer much more, especially with his lethal cross-passing.

In my opinion, Gattuso should continue with Abate, as the vice-captain has done really well in Milan’s last two league games. With that said, though, it is really a mixed bag and we will have to hope that Gattuso has his mind made up, just like he claimed.

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