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Milan 1 Udinese 1: Treading Water

Not only did our boys look like they were underwater again when it came to pace and accuracy, but our results make us look like we are barely treading water, not trying to reach the shore. If it weren’t for the young El Shaarawy throwing us a life ring, we could have sunk all the way to the bottom of the table. As it was, we managed to float back up out of the relegation zone into 14th, but we are nowhere near the shore yet.

The lifeguard on the night
Wait, did I just write that AC Milan are in 14th? How do we even do that? Sure, you could say tough schedule, only 3 games, truckloads of injuries, etc. But in truth, so far, we have mostly been treading water. Apparently, we played well against Barcelona because parking the bus doesn’t require as much running as playing offensively.

For some reason, we have been largely void of our pace, our effective passing, and even our TEAM. If someone has been starving for a few days, you would think they would be really hungry and eat a lot, right? But actually, they are better off eating many small meals over time to return to strength. Milan play like they’ve been famished, yet they’ve been served some big meals in the form of tough opponents. And so they are not finding their strength. No wonder we are only treading water.

Tonight we lined up our best 11 non-injured players. No Bonera or Antonini to handicap us. We didn’t come bursting out of the gate, but we had a couple of nice plays early on. In the 10th, Pato flicked a header just wide. But in the 12th, we got lucky for a handball non-call against us in the box that might have been a Udinese penalty otherwise. Then Zambrotta got called for a yellow in the 16th. And from bad to worse, in the 19th, Pato pulled up and walked straight off the field with an injury.

Injury #63 this season...

In the 20th, El Shaarawy came on for Pato, and Cassano immediately did his best Ibra impersonation by shouting at him. In the 22nd, Domizzi got a yellow card for too much hugging.

In the 27th, van Bommel took a nice shot that was unfortunately deflected, and in the 28th, Seedorf was practicing for the retirement home by shuffling around with the ball right in front of goal instead of just kicking the darned thing. Wasted chances.

It was in the 29th that disaster struck. Torje schooled Abate on the sideline, which allowed the cross into the box that Abbiati tried to grab, but in a rare moment fumbled badly right at the feet of Di Natale. You can probably guess what happened next. Udinese 1, Milan 0.

I hate it when he goes flying.
Our water treading continued - less and less running, passes not sharp, communication poor, and even some poor discipline again. In the 41st, Seedorf took a solid free kick that hit the post. And just before the end of the half, Abate got forward with a shot that was just wide. Still drowning.

The second half was more of the same, we seem to slowly deteriorate in these matches. Seedorf had a dirty foul on Basta, then played the saint by putting a beautiful ball into Cassano in the box with a near point blank shot that was saved by Handanovic and then cleared by Domizzi. Unlucky.

The 62nd saw Pinzi come in for Torje. Then Nocerino took a shot that was saved, then El Shaarawy threw us the life ring in the form of a great goal assisted by Cassano in the 63rd. I would like to say that this had renewed some pace or visible effort, but instead, the 65th saw Nocerino called for a yellow, and in the 68th, Abate got one, too. It was in the 69th that we saw some energy come on when Urby Emanuelson replaced the nearly invisible on the day Aquilani. Urby took at least 3-4 shots in the next 10-12 minutes, and he seemed to spark a bit of energy and urgency, as well as a bit more work for Handanovic, who was kept busy enough.

Legend, meet the future. Future, meet a legend.
The 84th saw Isla come in for Abdi, but more notably, to a huge ovation, Inzaghi came in for Zambrotta. But it was the keepers who shone in the last 10 minutes saving a couple of nice shots each. Inzaghi brought even more urgency with him, we almost looked like we were swimming, but 10 minutes of swimming is not going to get you to shore in a game where the other team is like your Bizarro World opposite.

Speaking of Bizarro World, Guidolin used an unusual 3-5-1-1 formation, which may have been part of the reason we looked so disjointed, I don’t know. We were certainly neutralized. Especially for having 68 % possession. (We had 68% possession? What did we do with it?) We also took 24 shots, but only 6 were on goal. And Robinho didn’t even play. Whereas Udinese took 10 shots with 5 on goal. Much more effective. But in our defense, we did take the 24 shots, so we are definitely trying to tread water.

I miss our injured players. I miss our heart and our drive. Like last year, when we had even more players out, we still gave it our best. I think tonight’s draw was generous to us. Udinese ran more, passed better, and were more dangerous in front of goal. But I will be very, very grateful that as reigning champions, we just doubled our points for the season on a poor performance. Poor but improving. Despite losing Pato, we did play a little better than we did against Napoli. And if we keep continuing to improve at this rate, we may just reach a buoy by the end of the season. If we have any players left standing.

However, I want to reach the shore, and I want to reach it first. We are 2 titles away from a second star, and I need an excuse to buy a new jersey. So let’s hope that we can find our champion hearts against Cesena on Saturday and play like we are on land instead of underwater. We have the talent, despite injuries, and we certainly know how to win. Let’s play our 4th match of the season for 3 points!


This post inspired by the music of Radiohead


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