CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON - Friday, August 21, 2009
Oguchi Onyewu is expected to get his first taste of Serie A action this Saturday as AC Milan open their season on Saturday evening at the Franchi di Siena stadium in Tuscany.
Given the Rossoneri's recent run of luck, head coach Leonardo will likely turn to the 27 year-old American for help in the central defense. Since signing on a free transfer in early July from Belgian champions Standard Liège, Onyewu has featured in the Brazilian's lineup in several of the summer friendlies in preparation for this weekend's opener.
In addition to Onyewu, the summer transfer season saw the signing of Thiago Silva from Fluminense to help bolster the defense.
Yet, the Brazilian skipper's offensive worries continue to plague him now that potential Kaka replacement and recent signee Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has been ruled ineligible for the opening match. The Dutch international had picked up a red while still with Real Madrid on the final days of last season. Leonardo may have to opt for the offensive pairing of compatriot youngster Alexandre Pato and the aging Filippo Inzaghi.
Leonardo's men most recently fended of arch-rivals Juventus in the annual pre-season Berlusconi Cup, with a 6-5 penalty shoot-out after exchanging regular-time goals. The win capped off a summer of otherwise dismal results in friendlies, including stalemates with Benfica, Boca Juniors and LA Galaxy, and losses to Inter Milan, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Chelsea.
As for the Siennese, coach Marco Giampaolo looks to improve upon his 14th place finish last year, and hopes his summer acquisition of Brazilian striker Reginaldo from Parma will do the trick. With veteran striker Massimo Maccarone and Marcelo Alejandro Larrondo the trio have been potent threats in recent friendlies for the Bianconeri.
Giampaolo's only disciplinary concern is that of striker Emanuale Calaiò, recipient of a red card in last season's final match at Reggina.