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Napoli 2, Milan 2: Che Miracolo!

I thought that we would be seriously outplayed in this match, but surprisingly, our boys held their own quite well. With a very attacking mentality, we maintained a lot of possession and were able to take a lot of shots. But facing off with the Brute Squad was no easy feat. Well, that and surviving the pitch and the atmosphere at the San Paolo. But we escaped Napoli with a point, which is a miracle in and of itself. And we did it coming from two down, too. Che Miracolo!


El Shaarawy and De Sciglio... the future looks bright


Allegri’s thesis paper must have told him it was time to try the 4-3-3 again. Or was it Berlusconi? And Boateng’s gerbil must have gotten into the first 11, too. I will never understand why. He literally wasted at least nine shots. He personally took nine shots, all wide and/or high. (Did you get that, NASA? You need to find nine more balls.) But to be fair, as a team we took a whopping 28 shots, only five of which were on goal. So it’s not just him. But truly, I will never understand Allegri’s choices. Or why he doesn’t have them defending set pieces and practicing shot accuracy for like 90% of training. But whatever.

Needless to say, he did lineup some key players in El Shaarawy, Bojan, Montolivo, and Mexes, who were all spectacular on the night. Plus the aforementioned Boateng, who started the match off with the Sky Jousting™ 45 seconds in. Heartbreak in the 4th minute when Inler managed to beat De Jong and send a ball curving in that duped Abbiati. 1-0 Napoli.

El Shaarawy can't do it all, people

Milan bravely took control for much of the first part of the match, and would end up with 55% possession on the night. When Napoli countered, they were dangerous. But Milan fought back. In the 15th, Acerbi managed to stop Cavani, and a fairly easy shot by Hamsik was relatively easily gathered by Abbiati. Bojan had to go off in the 29th to have his ankle re-wrapped or something, then came back on. But it was the 30th that the young Insigne beat Acerbi for the 2nd Napoli goal of the night. 2-0 Napoli.

Mexes made a key save, one of his many on the night, in the 33rd when Constant had passed the ball back to Insigne which led to Cavani being loose in the box. Thank you, Mexes. El Shaarawy was nice enough to give De Sanctis a warning shot in the 35th, and in the 37th, Constant redeemed himself by making a nice stop on Cavani. It took De Sciglio and Montolivo to shut down Zuniga in the 41st. And it was in the 44th that El Shaarawy gave hope to dejected Milan fans everywhere. With a beautiful goal and an assist by the young De Sciglio, we finished the first half by getting back into the game. 2-1 Napoli.

De Sanctis sees what the other keepers have seen all season... El Shaarawy's ball in his net

There was a strange anomaly that occurred at least twice. Bergonzi allowed a Napoli player to encroach at least twice on Milan’s free kicks. Not on Napoli’s just on Milan’s. and the player who did it in the 38th immediately broke it up and won the ball back. Now refs do strange things sometimes, but they’re never that blatantly poor with the encroachment. When I see things like that, I understand why Italians are so superstitious.

The oversight of the Brute Squad’s dangerous elbows to the head and other fouls ended in the 52nd, when Bergonzi handed a yellow card to Cavani. Campagnaro followed suit in the 62nd and Cannavaro got his just two minutes later. In the meantime, those who faulted Abbiati for either of the Napoli goals witnessed some massive saves by him, like in the 64th a great reflex save with his leg. Or his save on Hamsik in the 67th. Or the one on Cavani in the 79th. Or the one in stoppage time from Hamsik on a corner. So two goals got past him, but he also had 5 saves, at least four of them massive. He was also key for us tonight.

Allegri in the spotlight, as he has been all season long.

Also, I hope everyone took two drinks for Allegri’s lack of subbing before the 70th. Yes, down 2-1, he saved the fresh legs for the 76th, when he took off Montolivo and brought on Pazzini. I guess he was likely saving Montolivo for Wednesday in Belgium, but it’s hard to swallow as a fan when your coach takes so long, and takes off a player who is playing absolutely amazing football to bring on a placeholder like Pazzini. Also hard to swallow is when Bojan leaned into Cavani in the 67th, Cavani shoves him to the ground like he’s a toddler, and Bojan ends up seeing the yellow card. But nobody’s perfect, and we already knew that Bergonzi is far from it.

It’s okay, too, because I think I heard Milan fans worldwide audibly cheer when Boateng was subbed off in the 80th, even if Robinho came on for him and emulated his performance. But then he made it all better with his assist for El Shaarawy, his second goal of the night in the 82nd. 2-2. Allegri then pulled of Bojan, who had been sublime, and gave us a Niang appearance in the 85th. He showed what he had by taking a shot in the 86th that went wide. But still, we can dream. El Shaarawy then took one last shot that was unfortunately saved in the 88th. And he finished out the match by earning a yellow in the 90th, because, you know, he is one of our best defenders.

Personally, I thought this was a fantastic result. Looking at our two positions on the table and all that is going on, and it is Napoli who lost points here. I was proud of the tenacity and intensity with which our players played, and the resolve they showed after making crucial errors to come back and atone for their mistakes. I still question Allegri’s sanity, I still question anyone’s sanity who still thinks he should be manager, particularly after the verbal abuse he’s reportedly given the team this week. But I always support the guys who wear the red and black, who fight like lions on the pitch and make the sacrifices and work so hard off of the pitch. Particularly that El Shaarawy kid. I think he just may go places. Che miracolo!


This post inspired by the music of Prodigy


Our next match is Champions League Group Stage
Anderlecht vs. AC Milan
Wednesday, November 21 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm ET)