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Milan 2, Roma 1: Scraping Bottom

This was supposed to be a goalscoring party, but sometimes parties don’t go as planned. Some invited guests don’t show, or something horrible happens, like an already injured Thiago Silva going off in the 10th minute looking more injured. Even though it seemed we had more bad luck than good, and it didn’t feel like a party atmosphere at all, in the end, we got the three points we needed, and an important win when our body count was down. So even though we were scraping the bottom of our fitness barrel, and ahead of one of the biggest matches all season, Milan pulled it off again, like true champions.

Good idea, let's all dogpile on the one with the back pain.

Milan hit the ground running, striking up a frenetic pace that I knew we couldn’t keep up. We also hit the Roma goal with a barrage of shots from our attack, only were very unlucky that none of them went in. Urby, Ibra, Muntari, and El Shaarawy all made forays forward, only to shoot wide or be stopped by Stekelenburg or his BFF, the goal posts. In fact, Milan would take a whopping 24 shots, 10 on goal, to achieve their 2 goals. Not very efficient.

But it was in the 24th minute that made Milan fans die a little inside. Thiago Silva, who just barely passed a late fitness test, was injured again and quickly asked to be subbed off. This was the worst possible thing that could happen just a few days before our match with Barcelona. With Abate already out, I would say that Thiago Silva is our most valuable player against Barca. So Zambrotta was sent in, pushing Bonera to our least favorite spot for him, at center back. Oddly enough, Bonera did a decent job for most of the match, except for, you guessed it, the Roma goal. He, Zambrotta, and Ambrosini with the non clearance were the three stooges, allowing Osvaldo to score in the 44th. 0-1 Roma.

A well earned goal for Osvaldo

But I digress, it was an eventful first half, with El Shaarawy getting called offside a couple of times, and Ambrosini getting in a nasty tackle in the 23rd, and a great Bonera clearance in the 43rd. A yellow was given to Osvaldo for a foul on Mexes in the 29th, and then one to Ibra in the 30th for “finding his footing” on poor Marquinho’s leg. Ouch. He also managed to get Kjaer’s leg in the second half, I guess there was a special on Ibra’s footprint on your leg tonight.

The second half started trading shots, Totti sending one into orbit, El Shaarawy gifting the ball to Stekelenburg. But in the 52nd, our luck changed. De Rossi used his hand to stop a cross in from Ambrosini, and Heinze, complaining, got a yellow in the process. Plus, Milan got the penalty kick for the handball. Ibra stepped up, took it, and although Steklenburg got a boot to it, the ball ended up in the back of the net for the equalizer. Tied at 1-1.

Another fantastic airborne celebration

In the 55th, Allegri wisely made a substitution. It was BoaTime™. Boateng came on for Urby Emanuelson. Despite being paranoid of injuries, I think this one was important to give Boateng precious match minutes before our midweek match, seeing as how he’d been out for nearly two months. Luis Enrique saw Allegri’s substitution and raised him one, taking off Totti for Krkic in the 56th and then Borini for Pjanic in the 57th. I like his thinking, taking off your attackers when they are being ineffective, but unfortunately, it didn’t pan out for him.

Meanwhile, Mesbah got a yellow in the 58th, he’ll miss our next game at Catania. And at about the same time Boateng was blinded by a hand to the face, luckily, he managed to see okay eventually. In fact, in the 63rd, he managed a sweet little flick to keep the ball in, and that’s when everyone knew the show was back on. Speaking of show, Ibra had a great shot in the 71st that forced Stekelenburg into an equally great save. Just 2 minutes later, Muntari slammed the ball in, and rattled both the keeper and the crossbar, but no goal.

Ibracadabra indeed.

For Roma, Lamela came on for Gago in the 80th, but wasn’t able to make a big enough impact in the game. Abbiati made a great save in the 82nd, but it was in the 83rd that the show really began. Ibra chipped it up high over Stkelenberg, ran past him, and headed it into the net. Milan 2, Roma 1.

Boateng impressed, even if he had a nice shot that was called for offside. Then Allegri put Aquilani in for a few minutes in the 86th for El Shaarawy, who had a great game with lots of chances. Then, to show how bottom of the barrel we’re scraping physically and emotionally, Muntari came in with a late tackle on Marquinho, then accused the Roma player of diving as the ref wisely gave him the yellow card. This means we will also miss Muntari for card accumulation vs. Catania.

But still, it was a happy ending. In a game where we only had 2 healthy strikers, we got 3 points, with a little help from Daniele De Rossi (does this mean he wants to come to Milan next year?) Temporarily going top of the table by 7 points, until Juventus play Inter tomorrow.

What have we done?

But was it worth it? Reports say Thiago Silva left the San Siro on crutches, with a hamstring issue, and is now doubtful for Barcelona. Personally, I think we have a better shot at the Scudetto, but since the Champions League has large sums of money attached to it, and the team chose it as their goal, we are supposed to be focusing on this. But you wouldn’t know it by the way we put our best players out for 90 minutes every single game, whether it be the league or the Coppa Italia. I guess Allegri is new enough still that players have to make this type of sacrifice and he’ll have to learn the hard way. But I am personally nauseated and broken hearted, and I hope for Silva’s sake that he recovers quickly.

There was a graph in La Gazzetta dello Sport today showing the number of games players were injured for by club. Juventus held the bottom spot with only 40 total absences this season due to injuries. Whereas Milan had the top spot with 218 absences due to injury so far. The fact that we are still in first place is truly amazing, but it also says that we have way too many injuries. Looking into lots of things is important, but rotating our squad by choice, not necessity, would help Allegri a lot.

Is it just me or do they look a little nervous, too?

So we had good news and very bad news as we scraped bottom today to win. While the injury part is incredibly disturbing, we should count ourselves very lucky to be in the hunt for the Scudetto in spite of all of this mayhem. And hope for a lot more luck to be able to field a decent team next Wednesday.

Our next match is Champions League Quarterfinals
Milan vs. Barcelona
Wednesday, March 28th • 20:45 CEST (2:45 EDT)


This post inspired by the music of Madness