Saturday, December 8, 2012

Torino-Milan Preview: Running of the Bulls

You are likely familiar with the Running of the Bulls in Spain, where people run through the streets in front of a bunch of bulls, trying not to get trampled. But did you know that Milan will be doing the same thing on Sunday? Torino, just promoted again this year to Serie A, are the Bulls, or i Tori, and Milan will be the foolish young braves, trying to outrun them. Don’t pay any heed to their 14th spot on the table in comparison to our recently acquired 7th place spot. If there’s anything we Milan fans have learned this season, it is that we are our own worst enemy. Which means it doesn’t really matter if we’re being chased by Zebras or Bulls, if we trip ourselves up, we’ll still get trampled.

Trampled? I don't want to get gored by those Bulls.

Since Torino have been in Serie B for the past 3 years, you may not realize that they are to Juventus as Inter are to Milan. Well, except that they were destined for greatness. Torino split from Juventus in 1906 under hostile terms. But they are best known for their success in the 1940’s, when they were known as Il Grande Torino. If you’ve not heard of them, perhaps you’ve heard of their demise, the Torino Superga Air Disaster. Were it not for that tragedy, Serie A could have possibly seen il Granata have the most domestic success instead of their bitter rival, la Vecchia Signora.

To that end, Torino are coming off of their 3-0 decimation at the hands of Juventus last Sunday. So they will be some angry Bulls, seeing red and black. Although they are probably at least grateful for Rizzoli and Milan’s efforts the prior week which saw Juve defeated for only the second time this season. However, it is Milan who need to thank Juve, and their sturdy little Giaccherini, who was fouled by Glik. That resulted in Glik being sent off and thus suspended for our match. Kinda like a soap opera, huh? Let’s just hope that like this bizarre love triangle has played out so far, Milan come out on top.

Shows Bull red... not sure if referee or matador?

When they played il Derby della Mole last week, Giampiero Ventura lined up Gillet; D’Ambrosio, Ogbonna, Glik; Darmian Basha, Santana, Cerci, Gazzi; Bianchi, and Meggiorini. Yes, that is Matteo Darmian, Milan youth product, whose 50% ownership we sold to Palermo this summer so Torino could snatch him up. Let’s hope he’s still more Diavolo than Toro. Other than apparently one injury and the suspension, Ventura should have a full squad to choose from, including the in demand young defender Ogbonna. Maybe they seem harmless enough, but remember, these Bulls have played to draws with Napoli, Lazio, and Fiorentina, so they definitely can be dangerous.

Milan are likely to be missing recently injured Montolivo and Constant, but will likely have Abate and possibly Strasser available. Boateng saw red last week, so luckily... I mean "unfortunately," he'll be out. As of this writing, that is all I know, but who knows? Perhaps we’ll have other surprises from Milan Lab. I have yet to hear of Berlusconi’s plans, but it’s a reasonable guess that his puppet strings will field a 4-3-3. Hopefully with the same core group that earned our success. Of course, with a couple of key players missing, Allegri could defy his puppetmaster and do something else. Watch for the press conference details later today.

At least these guys run fast...

The weather may impact the game, as snow has been falling in Italy, but hopefully the pitch will be in good shape, the refs will have their contact lenses in, and the battle between man and beast will be fierce, but friendly. A clear result is always desired, and a clean match very admirable. But after our loss to Zenit on Tuesday, our boys will be fighting first and foremost for a result. A result that on paper should be obtainable, but will it be obtainable in their heads? We can only hope that our sometimes foolish brave young men will not get trampled by the running of the Bulls.

This post inspired by the music of Metallica

Torino vs. Milan
Sunday, December 9 • 15:00 CET (9am EST)
This match is not being shown LIVE in the U.S.
(Check the comments for stream links before gametime)