Lazio 2, Milan 0: Come Undone

In a very strange week, this was a very strange game. We were lucky to even play this match with all of the games postponed due to the snow. The transfer market closed with mixed results. And the team that held us to a draw in our opener this season and practically handed us the quarterfinals spot in the Coppa Italia just 6 days ago, yet today they had our number. That number was 2. Two goals conceded, zero goals scored. And three very valuable points dropped. As I mentioned in the preview post, anger can be a motivator, and I guess that’s what Eddie Reja used. Whatever it was, it certainly worked for Lazio. As for Milan, we just watched them come undone.

Eddie Reja had a lot to be angry about. Not only had his team fallen to Inter last week, then we beat them 3-1 and sent them out of the Coppa. He asked for some changes in the transfer market, and they did send Cissé packing, but failed to bring in Honda or another suitable replacement. With an injury to Miroslav Klose, and his other forwards out injured, too, that left him with only a single solitary striker for this match: his 34 year-old captain, Tommasso Rocchi.

That all seemed to work out pretty well for him, though, and adding in the support of the home crowd, his boys went about fiercely marking every Milan player relentlessly. It’s as if he told them they wouldn’t have dinner unless they won or something.

In all seriousness, Lazio essentially played a 5 man midfield. With five very good midfielders, I might add. Meanwhile, Milan played a 2 ½ man midfield behind 3 strikers. If you’ve ever been to middle school and seen kids getting into a fight, you’ll know that numbers trump just about anything. And Lazio’s midfield did just that. Despite Milan managing to maintain 63% possession, we just couldn’t get the ball anywhere close to their net.

"You  know I'm a black belt, right? I wouldn't do that if I were you"
Lazio sent a warning shot very early on, and the ref sent one right back. Matuzalem earned himself a yellow card in the 11th minute for a tough foul on El Shaarawy. In the 25th minute, Nocerino and Ledesma were mixing it up. I’m not sure what happened, but I think someone might have eaten someone else’s cannoli. (I have no source for that, but I thought I’d put it out there anyway.) Then Nesta earned himself a rare yellow card in the 40th for a foul on Rocchi, and he was not very pleased about it. Oh, and there were a few chances on either side, but not many. That’s the whole first half in a paragraph.

The second half needs a wee bit more explaining. You see, there was this incident in the box, and the ref, Mr. Damato, whistled for a penalty to be given to Milan because Dias clearly handled the ball with intent. But his assistant, Mr. Maggiani, signaled that actually, El Shaarawy had handled the ball, and so possession should be given to Lazio, no penalty. Well everyone on both teams tried to convince the ref they were right, but he managed to shoo them enough to chat with his AR, and the decision went Lazio’s way.

Now, through the magic of my x-ray vision, my lip reading skills, and my incredible Italian translation abilities (none of which I actually have,) I was able to figure out what they were saying, and can tell you here, as a Milan Obsession Exclusive:

Damato: Why did you wave your flag?
Maggiani: You can NOT give Milan this penalty. Remember what happened to Rocchi after Bologna?
Damato: You’re right, but Dias clearly handled the ball in the box. What can I do?
Maggiani: Well the ball brushed El Shaarawy’s sleeve before Dias handled it, and video replay will support your call. Just give the ball to Lazio.
Damato: You’re absolutely right. Thanks for having my back, man.
Maggiani: It’s what I’m here for.

Okay, I seriously doubt that’s what was said, but you win some, you lose some. Lazio could have had a penalty called on a Thiago Silva foul just inside the area later on in the match, too, so it evened out.

Marchetti sacrificed everything tonight

Speaking of Thiago Silva, an image of him around the 53rd minute I think, being chased down by  the 34 year old Rocchi, sums up the match for me: Every Lazio player stepped up their game and played 100%. Chasing down every ball, never giving up. Milan had no answers for this, and our ability to play our game was completely thwarted.

Ambrosini was actually doing well in attack in the 2nd half, making chances, injuring Marchetti, etc., until he was pulled in the 66th for Urby, and El Shaarawy came off at the same time for Seedorf. But it was too little too late, and our frustration was evident when in the 69th, Silva was yelling at Abate.

Rocchi earned a yellow for protesting the aforementioned non-penalty call in the 70th. And then it was Hernanes who drew first blood in the 76th, kicking it into the upper left corner after beating Nesta. 1-0, Lazio. The 79th saw Maxi Lopez take the field for the first time in a Milan jersey, with van Bommel going off to make way for him. He showed us he could use his head a bit, but wasn’t able to impress. And then in the 85th, the tenacious little captain of Lazio scored the heartbreaker with a brilliant piece of interplay between him, Lulic, and Hernanes, I think that drew out both of our center backs and left Abbiati wide open and caught off guard. 2-0 Lazio.

Ibra, who had his usual “police escort” of 2 or more Lazio players at all times, groping and grabbing and holding, had played pretty deep to compensate for Robinho’s lack of trequartista abilities on the night. When Maxi Lopez came on, Ibra moved more forward and saw more chances. But every shot he attempted went wide or was saved by Marchetti, who had a great game on the night. Both teams had 10 shots, but Lazio had 4 on goal  compared to Milan's 2 shots on goal, and obviously  got the 2 goals through. And they deserved it. They were the better team tonight.

So in the face of so many injuries and a month that will make or break us, little fourth place Lazio made a meal of us and stole our three points. I hope Allegri can help our boys rebound from this before our next match. Our game may be postponed on Sunday, but then we would play next Wednesday against league leaders Juventus, anyway. I hope we can figure it out before then, I don’t like it when we come undone.

Our next game is Milan-Napoli
Sunday, February 5th • 15:00 CET (9:00am EST)

This post inspired by the music of Duran Duran
Lazio 2, Milan 0: Come Undone Lazio 2, Milan 0: Come Undone Reviewed by Elaine on 4:02 PM Rating: 5
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