Perhaps the only thing this match will have in common with whatever that chick flick was all about is that it takes place in Tuscany. Well, and being played at 3pm local time, it is possible that there may be sunlight. But while most people associate Tuscany with beautiful countryside and villas and whatever, this weekend I see it in black and white: the black and white stripes of Siena, that is. The little team that could, and a team that stands in the way of another Scudetto for us. The only plot I’m worried about is the final score.
Siena currently sit in 10th place on the table, with nothing to lose or to gain mathematically. Some would say that they are the perfect team to influence the title race, then, as their result vs. Milan has more influence on us than on them. But they are not that kind of team, they are still playing with both guns blazing. Their current form is WWLWD, the loss being to Stromaccioni’s Inter and the draw going to a scrappy Bologna midweek. They are also the kind of team who would do their best to win against Milan just for bragging rights, so don’t be looking for any favors.
However, after injuries plaguing us for over 30 weeks of the 38 week season, the irony is that there are a couple of injuires on Siena’s side that just might do us a favor. It seems their top three scorers are all slightly questionable. Calaio, who has 11 goals on the season, seems the least likely to play, whereas Destro, with 10 goals, is doubtful. Brienza, with 4 goals, was given a day of rest after Wednesday’s match, but I would still expect to see him.
Against Bologna midweek, Sannino lined up Brkic; Contini, Terzi, Rossettini; D’Agostino, Gazzi, Vergassola, A. Rossi, Vitiello; Destro and Brienza. Andrea Rossi will be suspended for this match and several others are one booking away from suspension, so I would expect Sannino to make a few changes when they face us. Sannino has done a fantastic job with this squad this year, as they are the only newly promoted side who are assured Serie A again next year.
As for Milan, Thiago Silva will definitely be back as he has been training with the squad fully this past few days. This begs the question: Is Milan’s lack of cohesive and decisive play this past few games a result of too many healthy players? Was it our panic attack will-there-be-11-healthy-players-available mentality that kept us in winning ways all season? And how is it that Allegri was able to keep perfectly healthy formerly starting players out of the callups on Wednesday… something called a “technical selection?” This embarrassment of riches has also allowed Allegri to sub like a normal coach. I had forgotten what that even was.
But what all of this really means is that my starting lineup will be even more incorrect. Yet still I keep typing… Abbiati; Abate, Nesta, Silva, Mesbah; Aquilani, Ambrosini, Nocerino; Boateng; Ibra, Cassano. There, I said it. Mesbah because I like him and no one else does (plus no one sucks more than Antonini anymore,) Ambrosini because van Bommel seems tired lately and of the two, Ambro plays better tired; Nocerino on the left, by popular demand; and Cassano because I think he’s got at least 60 minutes in him. Oh, and Aquilani because I’m all about keeping him. Also to be noted is that Abate, Ibra, Mexes, Seedorf, Yepes, and Zambrotta are all one yellow away from suspension.
Two questions for this squad: How bad do you want it? And how much gas do you have left in the tank? Maybe a visit to scenic Tuscany is just what they need to get fired up and dominate this surprising Siena squad. Or maybe it will just lull them to sleep and have them dreaming of how they will spend their vacation without injury.
Questions we should not be asking right now: all questions related to all possible personnel changes this summer. The Scudetto is 4 games and a little luck away, it’s still within our grasp. Worry about the rest May 14th, when the talking on the pitch is over. If we distract our support now, we all lose for sure, and I for one do not want this to happen.
I will be waking up at an ungodly hour on Sunday to see what our boys can do under the Tuscan sun. I hope that with Silva back in the lineup they will be galvanized and punish Siena like they punished poor Genoa on Sunday, literally causing them to lose their shirts. Although we can skip the own goal bit and the shirt drama, our earlier form of taking teams 4-0 will suffice for me. A back to back Scudetto is still so close I can taste it, and it tastes deliciously metallic, for the record. The Scudetto also looks better with red and black ribbons rather than black and white ones, something Siena’s uniforms should remind us on Sunday. Maybe we could leave the Tuscan sun Milan red as a reminder, but we will definitely have to work hard and play better than we have lately. Can we do it?
Siena vs. Milan
Sunday, April 29 • 15:00 CEST (9am EDT)
This match will be shown on ESPN3 in the U.S.
This post inspired by the music of Annie Lennox