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And Then There Were Four

So I hear that little Euro 2012 tournament is still going on. And that a few of our Milan players are actually still taking part in it. In fact, I heard there was a match today that some Milan fans might be interested in. Could it be because of Mexès? No, he sat helplessly suspended yesterday as his team fell to the mighty Spaniards. Perhaps it is Ibrahimovic? No, even if it was his amazing goal against Mexès that helped determine which team went tops in Group D and thus play today. No, it is Milan’s Italian contingency who will be representing today: Cassano, Nocerino, Abate, and Montolivo. So six Milan players started the Euros. And then there were four.

"Italian Defenders Hunting in Packs," title by some apt British pundit or another

And what fearsome opponent will they be facing off against? It is a familiar one. Fans know them from broadcasts throughout the year, particularly during the Champions League. And speaking of the Champions League, Milan players have often faced this foe and felt its wrath. I speak, of course of the British media. Sure, the scoresheet will say that Italy are facing England. No. Three actual lions would be less scary than the real opponent. For it is the pundits, the media, those charged with broadcasting the matches to English speakers around the globe who are the true opponent. And even with a sound defeat on the pitch, our players may not stand a chance.

Okay, I changed one picture. But it *could* be real.

Sure, they will go on and on about how Cassano “has just recently recovered from minor heart surgery.” Good thing he has, too, or else I’m sure they would be discussing his love of food and his numerous Cassanate. Or perhaps we will hear how slow Abate is (as he zooms past English players to put in a cross) and how much better his English counterparts are (as he schools them and leaves them sobbing like little girls.) They won’t even have an idea how to say Nocerino’s name, and, having not followed Milan or Italian football, they will probably just call him De Rossi. You know, because they both have beards.

I am not sure what they will say about Montolivo. Maybe they will call him the next “Pur-loh,” or talk about his connection to Cesare Prandelli because he plays for Fiorentina (which will still be true in a year or more for them.) I’d like to say that maybe as one of Milan’s newest players, he could perhaps at least be spared the attack, but Thiago Motta is apparently injured and unlikely to play, so Montolivo may be called into the battle.

Italians know when to keep their mouths closed, or they help each other do it.

The players have heard it all before, and I’m sure they are focused on the match itself, but they deserve better. They deserve to play a team from a country with at least one pundit who knows an actual fact about them. In fact, the U.K. had to bring in Clarence Seedorf from the Netherlands and the U.S. brought in Michael Ballack from Germany to give them an air of credibility. And still, they will still be talked over by the pompous, emotional, and glaringly factless pundits.  Because everyone knows the English don’t have a pundit around that can even give the illusion of objectivity. Hooligans have nothing on a British guy with a microphone.

So in the end, the worst casualties are amongst the fans. And it’s not even the Milan or the Italian fans, who will likely all be cursing, screaming, and throwing things at their televisions. It’s actually the casual fan who suffers a slow and ignorant death caused by the narcissistic, egocentric, misinformed bile spewed from the moment this match was decided until… well forever. Because since the English NT never win anything, after today, they will probably just turn up the volume on their anti-Italy campaign for the previously scheduled friendly between the two teams coming later this summer. Or, heaven forbid our four brave Milan players and their Italian teammates should lose… that could actually be worse. It is rumored that the British pundits are much worse in victory than in defeat, but having only seen this on occasion in the Champions League, where their interests are divided amongst the teams, it’s hard to know. (When did England win anything again?)

The English version of taking responsibility

Needless to say, the casual fan might believe some of the bile spewed as fact, creating a new generation of those who talk a lot but never win. And that is the biggest crime of all. Much worse than an English victory today, which in their minds would solidify their first ever Euro trophy (even if there are still two matches left to win after this one.) Casual fans don’t realize the difference between conjecture and fact, even in the United States, their only experience of the game is guided by these malevolent misinformed misanthropes. So they will believe that Italians and Italian teams only play defense, that they are all dirty players, looking to take the cheap foul and fool the ref. If Italy score a goal or two or three, it will be just sheer luck, or merely taking advantage of the counter attack. And of course any Italian success was gained by bribing refs or match fixing.

You guys know he *played* in Italy, right?

We’ve heard it all in our Champions League matches with English teams. But this is bigger than that, so we can expect the hot air to be increased, too. My advice for those of you watching the English speaking streams is to use the mute button. You can create your own dialogue as you watch, and I’ll bet that you’ll even pronounce the names correctly, too. Because there is something more important than people usurping their punditry powers for evil, and it’s a little thing they call football. After this match, our Milan players will be either heading to the semifinals on Thursday or starting their vacations early. Godspeed to them. The British pundits will still be spinning their web of disillusion regardless of the outcome. So in a way, no one wins. But at the end of the game, the semifinals will be set, one way or another. And then there were four.


This post inspired by every Champions League, Euro, and
World Cup broadcast I have ever been subjected to