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Milan 1, Genoa 0: Live to Fight Another Day

It wasn’t pretty. But it also wasn’t as ugly as Genoa’s fans on Sunday. Somewhere in between those two places we played 90 minutes of football. And somehow managed to win. That in and of itself seems miraculous if you watched the first 85 minutes of the match. But not quite so much when you consider we played a relegation-threatened team with the most goals conceded in the league and who finished on 10 men. Okay, so maybe it was closer to the ugly side. But I am not pretentious enough to care how we win, only that we do. And with the top of the table rivals also pulling off a 1-0 win away to Cesena, we live to fight another day.



Milan started out with a bit of a toothless attack, but controlled the game nonetheless. And in the 8th minute, when Genoa did manage to threaten, Nesta made a nice clearance… with his hand. In the box. Although the ref didn’t see it, so I guess we can consider ourselves quite lucky.

Genoa were playing fairly deep, which frustrated our efforts on goal. Instead of a recap of specific events, I’d rather mention the performances of a few of the players in the first half. Firstly, El Shaarawy was great  as usual. His sweet little backheel showed the impressive talents he has, even if Genoa tackled him like a bowling ball on a bowling pin the entire time he was on the pitch. In between getting pummeled, he showed wisdom beyond his years.

Il Faraone showing his royalty

Abate earned himself a yellow in the 28th, and continued to put crosses in the box, which is admirable, but I keep hoping that at some point his crosses will actually connect with someone besides a defender. From Genoa’s point of view, Granqvist was brilliant. Well except for that time in the 31st when Ibra rearranged his face by pushing him into the post and subsequently into the back of the net. But even after seeing stars, he was a force to be reckoned with, and the main reason we didn’t manage to score in the first half.

Yepes played so very much better than that guy who was suspended for this match whose name we shall not mention. He played forward really well but managed to have good positioning on defense, too. Now if only he hadn’t earned that yellow in the 44th, maybe Allegri would start him more often when needed. The first half ended with Genoa taking a dangerous free kick that was punched out by Abbiati, who was solid when called upon, as usual. This was followed by our own free kick in stoppage time that was cleared, just like all of our other attempts on goal.

Yepes >>>> Bonera

The second half started with a big scare when Palacio, who has 17 goals for the season, broke through and faced off with only Nesta and Abbiati to stop him. Nesta made a huge clearance to stop the prolific striker, probably the best chance Genoa would see on the evening. Genoa had another dangerous cross in that was cleared by our efficient defense in the 49th.

Forgive me for those of you who are uncomfortable with me talking about Allegri’s balls, but if I keep talking about them, perhaps he’ll keep using them. Like a DOUBLE TACTICAL SUB in the 50th minute. Oh yeah, the man’s got balls, and he’s not afraid to use them. This was probably my favorite moment in the match, as I have been waiting 2 years for him to take chances like this, and once again it paid off. Cassano came on for El Shaarawy and Boateng came on for van Bommel. Genoa never knew what hit them. But as of the half, stats showed that we had 1 shot, not even on target. By the end of the game, after these two came on, we had 15 shots with 2 on target. Not our finest performance, but it goes to show what an impact these two players made.

Balls.

In fact, in the 51st, Ibra took a great shot that rattled the crossbar, our best chance by this point, that’s how immediate their impact was on the match. Genoa would become shell shocked, and it showed in their frustrations. After Muntari grabbed his token yellow card in the 53rd, Jankovic fouled Abate in the 60th to earn himself a card. More shots from Milan, fouls a plenty, and then in the 72nd, Jankovic clipped Abate from behind and earned his second yellow and his marching orders.

With Genoa on 10 men, we still had a bit of trouble converting, but it certainly wasn’t for a lack of trying. Yepes had a shot called for offside, and in the 77th, Cassano had a shot that was heartbreakingly just wide. So Allegri, of the recently acquired big cojones, pulled Antonini, who was back to mostly frustrating form again, and put on Maxi Lopez. Lopez didn’t get to put his name in lights or even on the stat sheet, but it was only 6 minutes later that Boateng scored the singular goal and match winner on an Ibra assist. 1-0 Milan. Coincidence? I think not.

He's back, baby.

Two performances in a row where our midfield has been stagnant and our offense has had Juve disease™, where converting is as hard as separating reality from FM. But our defense was a lot more solid tonight, and will hopefully improve even more once Silva returns. And, unlike when Bologna came to town, we managed to pull off the win.

I am not sure what Allegri will do about our midfield. Muntari has moments of brilliance, but is also king of the WTF moments. Aquilani is rumored to not be played anymore so we can ship him back to Liverpool without being obligated to buy, and that’s a shame, because we need him. Our best midfield was Aquilani-vanBommel-Nocerino (yes, on the left, Allegri!) with Boateng in the hole. I understand not playing this formation when those players were not available, but now they are. Also, we had Merkel and Strasser in the stands, and I think they deserve playing time ahead of players like Muntari and Seedorf, who seem out of sorts and out of form.

Cassano the catalyst.

Anyway, as I said, it wasn’t pretty, but it was three points, and we live to fight another day. Hats off to Genoa, they were a markedly different team from 3 days ago, and I hope the stars align to keep them in Serie A. They missed their captain, Marco Rossi as well as Giandomenico Mesto in this match. Now Milan need to pull ourselves together for Sunday’s match away to  Siena, who have been in surprising form lately and are not afraid to steal points from giants. By keeping pace with Juventus tonight, we managed to do our part, but we will have to be more convincing than that to win the next 4 matches. Also, a special thanks to Melissa Satta for allowing her boyfriend to survive her bedroom wrath and come back to score the winning goal tonight. If we all work together and make sacrifices like this, we just might pull it off after all.

Our next match is Siena vs. Milan
Sunday, April 29 • 15:00 CEST (9 am EDT)


This post inspired by the music of AC/DC