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Parma 1, Milan 1: It’s a Wash

Like the rain pouring down on the Stadio Ennio Tardini, this game washed away the dreams of the Milan faithful of winning two in a row. With one “fallo stupido di Montolivo,” as my Italian commentator said, all of El Shaarawy’s hard work and his beautiful goal was washed away. I think we still made some progress today, but like the scoreline showed, it was mostly stagnation. Oh well, at least we had the Curva, their songs were louder than the Parma fans and must have given strength to our boys.

El Shaarawy with another amazing performance

Parma started off looking dangerous, until Rosi was shown a yellow card for diving in the third. That seemed to slowly awaken the Milan players and you could see them slowing things down and maintaining possession, like a soothing, calming effect washing over the team. As they settled in, you could see their confidence growing, and the results were more possession and more chances on goal.

For example, Boateng had a shot on goal saved in the 14th, back to back with one in the 16th that was a wicked header. I loved that although Mirante managed to swat it out, he chased it down, he wanted that goal. Parma still had plenty of chances, and Abbiati was a beast once again, although several Milan players had some memorable clearances, like Zapata in the 26th or Nocerino in the 54th. De Jong acted almost as a 5th defender for much of the night, and good thing he did, too, because we gave Parma plenty of dangerous chances in the first half. Ambrosini earned himself a frustrated yellow in the 20th for a shirt tug, but to be fair, it probably saved the goal.

Boateng literally held by Parma

The hero on the night had to be El Shaarawy. I noticed in the 25th how powerful he was going up in the air, he headed the ball away from a much larger and older Parma player. Then in the 41st, he was all the way back, got the ball and ran the full length of the field, it was just that last little cross that didn’t quite find Bojan, or it surely would have been a goal. His goal did come in the 50th, with a Bojan assist, as he dribbled to beat Zaccardo and slot it in past a stunned Mirante. 1-0 Milan.

Milan started the 2nd half with fire in their boots, creating and taking chances as if Parma were not even in their league. Nocerino had a couple of shots early on, and Boateng missed a great opportunity on a 1 v 1 situation with Mirante, but his header was wide. Then in the 58th, it looked like he was going to finally score with a shot across goal, but Mirante managed to just get a fingertip on it to push it just wide. Then in the 59th, he earned himself a yellow, that seemed to take the wind out of his sails, I guess. De Sciglio had a decent shot in the 62nd, with a little more power, maybe Mirante wouldn’t have handled it so easily.

Allegri started the substitutions in the 63rd by bringing on Montolivo, which turned out to be a poor decision. First, Abbiati got carded for timewasting in the 64th, then Montolivo earned himself a yellow with a bad foul on Ninis on the edge of the box in the 65th. The ensuing freekick taken by Galoppa leveled the score, 1-1.

Bojan... not a performance to remember

Allegri pulled Boateng off for Robinho in the 70th, and his final sub in the 81st was Pazzini on for Bojan, so it was clear he was focused on improving the attack. Bojan had a couple of shots, a couple of moments, and the assist on the goal, but was largely disappointing. Boateng played better (and especially shot much better) tonight than he has all season, in my opinion, but it still wasn’t enough. Even in the 84th, when Montolivo was given a chance to redeem himself as Milan were awarded yet another free kick, he struck it beautifully, but Mirante saved it.

If Parma had a hero, it would be Mirante, he had a whopping 8 saves tonight. That meant that Milan had 9 shots on goal. Out of 17 shots, 9 were on goal, a huge improvement from our previous games. We also maintained 60% possession, which is half the battle. Parma were actually brutal, with 19 fouls to our 7, so our boys took a beating. Truly, if it weren’t for Montolivo’s one mistake, we would have earned the 3 points we worked so hard for.

Parma used brute force to hold Milan to the draw

But it’s not as if we completely outplayed them. This midfield was so defensive, we had no one to connect the ball to the attack. So our attackers spent too much energy tracking back. If we lineup both of our best fullbacks and both of our defensive midfielders, who do we have to sub? Or to play in their place should injury befall us? Sure, some of the things that Allegri is doing are proving successful, but we have absolutely no depth at these spots, which leaves us vulnerable as we fight on multiple fronts.

On the flip side, De Sciglio is a complete revelation, and versatile, too. He and El Shaarawy are singlehandedly going to make Allegri eat his words about “players for the future” and not trusting in youth. They are not our future, they are our now, and arguably two of the best players in our squad. Zapata and Yepes were fantastic together, it’s nice that we have so many options at center back.

While we made some progress, we are still showing our weaknesses. Even if it was a stupid mistake that cost us the extra 2 points, we didn’t pull it off, and we failed to close it out when we had the time. The last few minutes, the boys just seemed completely out of gas, and now we fly to Russia on Wednesday, too. So, just like the rain that soaked the pitch and everyone on it, this one was a wash. A tiny step forward, a single point, and more learning done. But certainly, our boys fought the good fight.


This post inspired by the music of The Cure


Our next match is Champions League Group Stage
Zenit St. Petersberg vs. AC Milan
Wednesday, October 3 • 18:00 CEST (12noon EDT)