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Showing posts from 2012

Referees: Who ARE These People?

You know them as referees – those guys in the worst uniforms with their whistles and assorted cards. When you agree with them, you praise them. When you disagree with them, they are your mortal enemies. In reality, they are actually human. They have families and day jobs, just like anyone else. But they are not like the rest of us. Unlike the rest of us, they take on the most despised job in calcio, and they take abuse from management, coaches, players, and fans. Are they actually human? Who are these people?

The Grinch Who Stole Milan

Throughout the season, there has been much discussion about Allegri, his lineups, substitutions, etc., and his accountability for the results of Budget Milan™. However during the summer, there was no love lost for management, either. Since we have a short break now and the looming January mercato on the horizon, I thought it would be a good time to focus back on the management again.

In Defense of our Defense

For many Milan fans, first priority in the mercato in January is to reinforce our defense. Which is an obvious reaction to our poor record so far this season. But it might not be the most necessary place to reinforce. Is it possible, after all, that our defense has been hindered by factors beyond their control? Or that maybe our expectations are higher based on past performances? Personally, I am not sure that our defense is our weakest spot. And I think that if given the opportunity to show what they are truly capable of, we might have a much better back line than our stats show.

Counting Our Blessings

For many people around the world, today they are celebrating Christmas Eve, tomorrow Christmas Day. Whether or not you are celebrating, I like to take some time to count my blessings at this time of year. This includes my Milan blessings. This year has been filled with so much heartbreak and pain, but in thinking about it, I want to spend a little time remembering all of the good, even if I might have to look a little harder for it. So, inspired by Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol,” here are some blessings I have been grateful for this year (and some I hope to see more of in the very near future.)

Roma 4, Milan 2: Mauled by Wolves

The score really doesn’t do Roma justice. Until Marquinhos was sent off and Allegri finally put a couple of the right people on in the attack, we were declawed cats in a forest of ravenous wolves. To our credit, we did pull two back late in the match. But once again, Allegri showed naiveté in starting Boateng as well as whatever goalkeeper drama has been going on behind the scenes with Abbiati that he would start Amelia. And once again, our guys showed that the 4-3-3 is not our best formation, and that they simply aren’t hungry enough (or is it talented enough?) to win when it would really make a difference. For all of these reasons and perhaps more, tonight we were mauled by wolves.

Roma vs. Milan: Game On!

Roma-Milan Preview: What Would the Mayans Do?

Since this will be my last post ever, I may take a few liberties. The saying goes “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” But on this occasion, I would like to take a page out of the Mayan playbook. Let’s start with human sacrifice. I nominate Antonini. Okay, now that we have that out of the way, I suppose I should talk about Roma. I mean, it’s pointless, the world is going to end in about 3 hours from when I post this, but just in case the Mayans weren’t omniscient or whatever, I should try to make part of this about football.

Champions League Draw: Pick Your Poison

Given Milan’s recent performances in the league, many are optimistic about our chances in the Champions League. But the reality is that Milan qualified with the worst stats, and primarily due to the misfortune and poor performances of other teams in a comparatively weak group. So here we are, the underdogs in a competition that we have historically dominated, winning 7 titles in 15 appearances. Which means that it doesn’t really matter what the outcome of the draw is, we will be lucky to progress to the quarterfinals.

Is Sportsmanship Dead?

The ridiculous level of acrimony that developed last season between two clubs who had traditionally been respectfully fierce rivals really made me wonder: Is sportsmanship dead? Particularly when the flames of acrimony were fanned even more by the coaches and management of the two clubs. Of course every club has fans that lack even a shred of human decency, but do some clubs have more than others? Why do fans suddenly feel so entitled to put every other club down when they have won? How can they honestly justify their behavior towards all other clubs when their club was the victim of a witchhunt by a single club and they were punished by a sporting “justice” system? Why are fans then free to act like tremendous douchebags to clubs not even in our league, after they know firsthand what it is like to be persecuted? Is sportsmanship truly dead?

Milan 4, Pescara 1: Birthday Gifts

It’s Milan’s 113th birthday, and you’ve been invited to their party. If you are Pescara, what do you give them? Try not just one, but two own goals. Gift wrapped and delivered by Abbruscato and Jonathas. All I can say is thank you very much, Pescara. And a very happy birthday to Milan, all 113 years of excellence.

Milan vs. Pescara: Game On!

Happy 113th Birthday AC Milan!

Milan-Pescara Preview: Fighting Dolphins

I really can’t think of anything more dangerous than a team with nothing to lose. And Pescara, having only been promoted this year, are tied for 17th place with Palermo, save for their -18 goal differential. Meaning they are pretty much in 18th place, also known as the relegation zone. So they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Add to that the fact that they are party crashers, as Milan are celebrating their 113th birthday tomorrow, and the motive for an upset increases. I just hope that those fighting Dolphins don’t get their wish.

Coppa Italia – Milan 3, Reggina 0: One to Forget

Don’t let the pretty score deceive you, Milan played some absolutely horrible football tonight, we were just lucky that Reggina didn’t finish very well. We missed the beautiful crosses and great runs of De Sciglio, the goals and assists and defense of El Shaarawy, the stops and passing of De Jong and Ambrosini, and whatever the hell it is that Boateng contributes. And yet, we did manage to pull it off without them, and by a good margin, too. So it wasn’t all that bad. Let’s just chalk this one up to luck and call it one to forget.

Coppa Italia – Milan vs. Reggina: Game On!

Coppa Italia – Milan-Reggina: Seeing Amaranto

These boys from Reggio Calabria have got to be shaking in their boots. Playing in Serie B since 2009, they’ve got something to prove. But they picked the wrong club to try to prove it with. Because while our roster says "Serie B", we still play in Serie A (at least until the end of this season.) And just because they’ve got a couple of our players on loan doesn’t mean they can hurt us. Well, with our home record, maybe they can. But still… we’re not going down without a fight. We’re seeing Amaranto!

Coppa Italia: Milan, Meet your Destiny

It’s that time of the year again: Coppa Italia. Well, actually, it’s just finally time for Milan to enter this year’s competition. Coppa Italia matches have been going on since early August. But since the format favors the biggest teams, we get to sit back and wait while all of the smaller teams eliminate one another. Which is good, because it increases our chances of fulfilling Allegri’s objective for the team this year: Winning the Coppa Italia. He knows it’s his only chance at a trophy, the most likely path for a Europa League spot, and the chance to leave his mark on Milan next year with the fabulous “Coccarda” patch. Milan, meet your destiny.

Torino 2, Milan 4: The Torino Double

First we pulled off the win with a little help from Rizzoli when Juventus came to town. And this afternoon, we went to Torino and slayed the Bulls to make it a Torino Double. Two big wins in two weeks, I have to say it feels pretty good. And has anyone noticed how much better Allegri’s lineups have been once Berlusconi started telling him who and where to lineup? Huh. Well, I guess that’s why it’s a team. And this team made me proud today.

Torino vs. Milan: Game On!

Torino-Milan Preview: Running of the Bulls

You are likely familiar with the Running of the Bulls in Spain, where people run through the streets in front of a bunch of bulls, trying not to get trampled. But did you know that Milan will be doing the same thing on Sunday? Torino, just promoted again this year to Serie A, are the Bulls, or i Tori, and Milan will be the foolish young braves, trying to outrun them. Don’t pay any heed to their 14th spot on the table in comparison to our recently acquired 7th place spot. If there’s anything we Milan fans have learned this season, it is that we are our own worst enemy. Which means it doesn’t really matter if we’re being chased by Zebras or Bulls, if we trip ourselves up, we’ll still get trampled.

Guest Post: Pippo Inzaghi vs Liverpool 2007: Football’s romance

It is with great pleasure that I share this amazing Guest Post with you by Sam Lewis, deputy editor of Forza Italian Football. Thanks, Sam!

Milan 0, Zenit 1: Finding Our Form Again

You know the old saying, “If you keep doing the same things you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting the same things you’ve always gotten”? Well, tonight, Allegri went back to his pre-Berlusconi ways of fielding all the wrong players in the wrong formation. And expecting a win. When the going got tough, he waited until the 65th, 82nd, and 90th minutes to make substitutions, and threw on three strikers, no less, in an apparent attempt to change the game. Sound familiar? Because it’s how he rolled all season long, until Berlusconi took over. Although this time, Berlusconi did visit Milanello today,but apparently, just like his money, his magic is all gone. Yes, tonight, we found our Budget Milan™ form all over again.

Champions League – Milan vs. Zenit: Game On!

Champions League - AC Milan vs, Zenit: Picking Our Battles

With AC Milan qualified for the Round of 16, this game means absolutely nothing to us. For Zenit, it is the chance to grab the Europa League spot and salvage their European season, so it means everything to them. So does Milan field a B team, rest some players and play for 90 minutes? Or do we field our A team with some bench players and hold out for the draw? Or do we field our A team, knowing we don’t play again until Sunday, and put the thumbscrews on Zenit and try for a win that really only means another confidence boost for our boys? It’s hard to know what Berlusconi will tell Allegri to do, but it’s really time to pick our battles.

Catania 1, Milan 3: Pretty Ugly

This game was divided into two categories: the pretty and the ugly. There wasn’t much pretty at all, but what there was of it was very, very pretty. The ugly dominated the game, and no, I’m not talking about the players’ looks this time. There was some very, very ugly football, and there were some very, very ugly fouls. But luckily for Milan, the pretty was what counted and gave us three very crucial points. It may not have all been pretty, but I’ll take it.

Catania vs. Milan: Game On!

Catania-Milan Preview: Sicilian Safari

Friday night, our boys will face eleven elefanti on the island of Sicily. Should we be afraid? Well, have you ever faced eleven elephants? Or been to Sicily? Of course we should be afraid. We are flying high from an unexpected victory, and we need to make sure that our boys have come back down to earth. We are potentially missing some key players, and Catania are coming off of a disappointing loss in the Sicilian derby. Plus, we’re traveling to Catania. It’s not an easy place to play. But hopefully, our boys will be all ‘doped up’ on Berlusconi’s words that he should be sharing with them today, and will brave their Sicilian Safari and keep those elephants at bay.

Gabriel Vasconcelos Ferreira: The Boy in the Net

Even before the transfer market opened this summer, news of a young Brazilian keeper coming to Milan broke. He came from Cruzeiro and was set to replace Flavio Roma in the third keeper spot. His name was one of those multi-syllable, multi-name Brazilian ones that I struggle with: Gabriel Vasconcelos Ferreira. So I was glad to know we could simply call him Gabriel. But who was this mere boy who could possibly, in some unforeseen circumstance, be minding the nets for my Milan?

Milan 1, Juventus 0: Vindication

Who would have believed we could pull off three miracles in one week? First the draw in Napoli, then the victory in Belgium, and now the victory over league leaders Juventus? But this victory is so much more than 3 points. It is a victory over all of the Juve fans who mocked our players, our position in the table, our “provincial” side, our coach, etc. It is a victory over ghosts and ghost goals. But mostly it is a victory for our self belief. If this Budget Milan™ is capable of beating the league leaders, then we are capable of doing other amazing things, too. And if Allegri continues to lineup like this consistently, we may even be able to string a few wins together. Either way, this match was certainly vindication.

Milan vs. Juventus: Game On!

Milan-Juve Preview: Smacktalk Week™?

For those who don’t know, I am guilty of sleeping with the enemy. I am married to a Juventus fan. And the best part about this sordid arrangement is that twice a year, I indulge in “Smacktalk Week™.” Given that the children have also chosen Milan as their team, we enjoy the numerical advantage. Given that we are Diavoli, we also enjoy a certain cunning advantage, too. So regardless of the outcome of the game, Smacktalk Week™ is always enjoyable here. Until now. The first place team paying a visit to the twelfth place team? Only a fool would engage in smacktalk as a fan of the twelfth place team. I am not a fool. Thanks, Budget Milan™. You’ve even ruined Smacktalk Week™ for me.

Champions League – Anderlecht 1, Milan 3: Qualified.

It wasn’t pretty, it was very improbable, and honestly almost inexplicable. But as I have said before, the Champions League is in Milan’s blood. No amount of experienced or talented players leaving, no players being betrayed and sold, no management epic fails, no coach who is frankly on the wrong side of the fine line that is sanity could change our fate. Tonight, with only a few moments of brilliance and a lot of ugly football, Milan secured their place in the Round of 16 along with Málaga. Qualified.

Champions League - Anderlecht vs. Milan: Game On!

Champions League – Anderlecht vs. AC Milan Preview: Atonement

If you will recall when Anderlecht came to the San Siro in September, the match people were certain we would win ended in a 0-0 draw. If it wasn’t the low point of our season, it was one of the low points. So now we head to Belgium for the chance to atone for this match. But we have to do it in their house, having just played Napoli on Saturday and needing to save something for the match against Juventus on Sunday. With Galliani publicly insulting, Allegri berating and insulting, and Berlusconi telling Allegri how to do his job, it’s not the ideal climate for success. However, I sense that our boys are tired of not winning and want to prove themselves. So I think they will give it their all, whichever 11 are lucky enough to play, in whichever formation Allegri decides to play them in, and despite anything the insane multiple personality tactician decides to scream at them. Our boys are looking for atonement, come what may.

Napoli 2, Milan 2: Che Miracolo!

I thought that we would be seriously outplayed in this match, but surprisingly, our boys held their own quite well. With a very attacking mentality, we maintained a lot of possession and were able to take a lot of shots. But facing off with the Brute Squad was no easy feat. Well, that and surviving the pitch and the atmosphere at the San Paolo. But we escaped Napoli with a point, which is a miracle in and of itself. And we did it coming from two down, too. Che Miracolo!

Napoli vs. Milan: Game On!

Napoli-Milan Preview: Volcano Advisory

In the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius lies the Stadio San Paolo. It is one of those stadiums that I would call “hostile” – heavy on the fans, light on hospitality, and very difficult to get a win there. The inhabitants of that stadium are Serie A’s new brute squad, and have just recently slipped from second on the table to third after keeping up with Juventus point for point for the first part of the season. After a slight dip in form, they are ready to explode back into the Scudetto chase. And we are their next victims. Consider this an official volcano advisory. On Saturday, Vesuvius is gonna blow.

Is There a Method to His Madness?

Despite intense criticism from everyone from fans all the way up to Berlusconi and Galliani, Allegri has done things his way, with a stubbornness that would make Napoleon blush. We have talked about the lack of any consistency in his lineups, and then there was all of the yelling at the team at halftime on Sunday, and accusing the players of conspiring against him. All of this has led to some pretty legitimate questions as to the state of his mental health, with many calling him “Mad Max.” But I started to think… what if there is actually a method to his madness? Is there a single technique he uses to generate his random lineups? So with some help from Sposato al Nemico ("Married to the Enemy"), who has some frighteningly plausible insights into the mind of a madman, we came up with five theories as to how Allegri picks his lineups

Budget Milan™ Survival Guide

Even before Milan’s management betrayed the hearts of Milanisti worldwide this summer by selling Ibra and Thiago Silva, it was clear this season was going to hurt. All in all we said goodbye to fourteen players, and even if they had been replaced like for like in quality, it would still be a while before they would be a team and we could still not be playing our best football. But it was obvious that even before the mercato they were buying inferior players. And when PSG made them an offer they didn’t refuse, it was clear that we were in for some massive pain. Add in Galliani’s “hands on” supervision and repeated criticisms and confirmations of Allegri, and Allegri doing everything in his power to undermine the quality we do have and blaming everyone but the man in the mirror, and it has become painfully obvious that it is one of the worst times to be a Milan fan in its almost 113 year history.

Milan 1, Fiorentina 3: Purple Heartbreak

Looking at our respective positions in the table going into this match, we knew it was possible, even probable that we could lose this one. But how it would all go down was yet to be determined. We had hoped it would at least be a decent battle. However, from ten minutes in, our hearts were crushed, and it was all downhill from there.

Milan vs. Fiorentina: Game On!

Milan-Fiorentina Preview: Viola Invasion

On Sunday, the purple army from Firenze marches into the San Siro. Flying a little bit under the radar, they are more dangerous than they might seem at first. Without any real fanfare, they have crept up into fourth in the league and look increasingly dangerous each match. Under the careful guidance of Vincenzo Montella, la Viola look to invade the San Siro tomorrow and take no prisoners… or concede any goals, either.

Mister Inconsistent

Rarely am I a woman of few words, but today I thought I would let the graphics do the talking. Below are Allegri’s lineups this season to date. You can see for yourself the vast changes in both lineups and formations. Some players were lined up consistently, but did not play consistently and vice-versa. But I would just like to ask one question: If Allegri expects his players to be consistent, then shouldn’t his formations at least have some consistency, let alone the starting 11?

Milan 0, Sampdoria 1 Sunday August 26

Champions League Milan 1, Málaga 1: Is Our Best Good Enough?

As I type this, I imagine Allegri is in the press conference area at the San Siro saying things like “We played well,” and “The results are not accurate.” With 56% possession and 19 shots, 6 on goal, perhaps we should have grabbed a better result. And truly, our boys did play pretty well. But in the end, we have to ask ourselves, is our best good enough?

Champions League – Milan vs. Málaga: Game On!

Champions League Preview - AC Milan vs. Malaga: Prepare to Die

In the cult classic “The Princess Bride,” there is a character who devotes his life to avenge his father’s death. He tells everyone he meets what he will say when he finds the six-fingered man: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” Much like the valiant and honorable Inigo Montoya (who is ironically Spanish,) Milan want to avenge the losses of their players this summer, the loss of faith in management and our coach, and especially their less-than-worthy-of-Milan performances. Particularly that 1-0 loss in Málaga less than two weeks ago. Perhaps Málaga will be welcomed by the greeting, “Hello. Our name is AC Milan. You took our dignity, prepare to die.”

Milan 5, Chievo 1: Goalfest 2012

Oprah’s influence was strong again this match. But rather than yellow cards, this time her disciples got goals instead…. “You get a goal! And you get a goal! Eve-ry-body gets a goal!!!” It was a great day to be a Milan fan, I wish it could always be like this, it’s much more fun than losing or even drawing. Although it wasn’t such a great day to be Dramé, I am hoping for nothing serious and a speedy and complete recovery from his head injury. So other than that and those absolutely hideous Chievo kits, the Goalfest 2012 was a very pleasant surprise.

Milan vs. Chievo: Game On!

Milan-Chievo Preview: Lowered Expectations

Last year there were certain matches that we were simply expected to win. Obviously, in any match anything can happen. But this year, much like the comedy spoof of an online dating service, we definitely have Lowered Expectations. For example, I have no expectation whatsoever that Allegri will use a formation that is familiar to me, let alone the players. Nor do I have any expectation that he will field our 11 best players for any match, as I don’t think he even knows who those players are. But Saturday, we face off against my favorite flying beasts, Chievo Verona’s own Flying Donkeys. So…. no, still no expectations. Other than perhaps starting a career in drinking to numb the pain. And Chievo’s plight will be to make sure I feel that pain. Those Flying Donkeys certainly know how to kick me when I’m down.

A Glimpse of History

On my recent maiden trip to Milano, I set out to do three things: Watch the derby at the San Siro, tour the San Siro, and check out the museum at the San Siro. Well, technically, I also wanted to eat as much gelato as humanly possible in a week, but that actually was not near the priority as the other three things. So you know I made it to the Derby, as painful as it was. And also that I toured the San Siro. So for today, I thought I’d share some of my pics from the museum.

Palermo 2, Milan 2: Horror Show at the Renzo Barbera

How many posts must I write and use any form of decent vocabulary in relation to Allegri? He has gone well beyond questionable tactician or provincial manager. No, when I saw tonight’s lineup, psychotic madman were the words that came to mind. And the results show, too. We could have easily dominated this match, kept a clean sheet, and maybe even scored three or four goals. But with the formation and lineup he fielded, we were lucky to come away with the draw. Kind of like in the Charlie Brown Halloween special, when the other kids talk about what candy they got, and he says "I got a rock." Only we're the blockheads, and Allegri is handing out the rocks. I guess it really is Halloween tomorrow, based on how we played tonight.

Palermo vs. Milan: Game On!