Inter 1, Milan 1: Red Like the Fire, Black Like…

In our hearts, we knew we had everything to fear. But after the midweek victory, we all wanted to believe that it wasn’t just a fluke. And for the first half, it truly seemed like the Curva Sud’s coreografia would propel tired legs in the face of our fiercest rivals: “Red like the fire… Black like your fear.” But unfortunately, we came back down to earth from being “martians” (out of this world, usually used to describe Barca,) to play like the Milan who have done so well in Serie A of late. We played 45 good minutes, Allegri forgot to sub, and so we ended up with a draw instead of three points. Not a bad result, considering we had lost the last three Derbies to our Cugini, but still, not what we wanted. So the coreografia at the end of the game might have been something more along the lines of “Red like the fire, Black like… the ashes of our hopes for this game.”

The Curva Sud gave us courage

The match started off with pace and physical contact, like you would expect a game of this nature to start. Also some nerves, like when there was a little miscommunication between Muntari and Balotelli in the 4th which resulted in a bit of a wasted chance. De Sciglio, channeling the spirit of Constant, who was ruled out before game time with an injury, took a shot just wide in the 6th. And then the first of a number of yellow cards on the night was shown to Mexés in the 12th, no surprises there. I believe he will miss the next match.

Our offense was building and creating chances, whereas Inter’s chances were very limited and there was more time in between, too. So it was just a matter of time before Boateng made a nice pass to El Shaarawy, who beat the tremendous Handanovic in the 20th to draw first blood. 1-0 Milan.

El Shaarawy shows he is still a scoring machine

After that, it was the Balotelli and Handanovic show. In the 27th, Balotelli went up for a fierce header which forced Handanovic into a massive save. Just two minutes later, Balotelli had another great shot that Handanovic saved. Balotelli was already so frustrated, he kickcd the post. Then it was Muntari’s chance to earn a yellow for a foul on Gargano in the 31st. But then he made up for it by taking a shot just two minutes after that.

Finally, after quite a bit of contact, Ranocchia earned a yellow in the 34th by fouling Balotelli from behind. I hope he made it safely to the parking lot. The resulting free kicks from that and from another foul five minutes later were blocked or saved, I can’t imagine how frustrated Balotelli was by now. But he wasn’t the only one who was frustrated. After a rough foul by Cambiasso on Montolivo, Montolivo was shoving and yelling like we haven’t seen him before in a Milan jersey. But he was eventually subdued, just in time for Mazzoleni, in a bold move, to card Jesus in the 43rd.

Handanovic was simply Balotelli's kryptonite tonight

The second half  started a little cloudy – literally, what were reported to be smoke bombs clouded over the entire pitch. It was almost as if it was a result of putting out our flame. But there was still enough visibility to see a beautiful cross in by Montolivo wasted by the mezz’ala striker again for the day, Boateng. And also when Montolivo earned himself a yellow in the 49th. At the other end, Ranocchia had a decent shot that was saved, and then Abbiati had a huge save on a Guarin shot. It was hard to know if it even had been saved with all of the smoke, but it was, and was certainly Abbiati’s biggest test on the night. In the 65th, Balotelli was attacking again and Handanovic got his face cleated in the process. Glad he's okay, I hate when keepers get kicked like that. Milan would tally 19 shots in all, with six on target, which seems kind of back to our normal level of accuracy. Whereas Inter would end up with 13 shots, with only four on target.

Speaking of which, most of Inter’s shots would come late in the game. If I were the popular candidate for “coach of the year,” and even more so after the Barcelona match, when my team had been controlling the match and were now losing control, I would consider mixing things up a bit. A change of tactics, maybe even a substitution, just something other than yelling “Dai Dai Dai!” But I am not that genius who knew that changing formations and lineups for the first few months of the season was the way to go. Instead, we have Massimiliano Allegri, who has been criticized and confirmed more often than Zamparini changes his coaches. So no subs until the 81st.

More than head and shoulder above the rest, but stopped at every try.

And for those of us armchair coaches, who saw the tiredness, the frustration, and the turning of the tide in general, it didn’t surprise us when Schelotto, a player with fresh legs who had been substituted on not even three minutes earlier, grabbed the equalizer in the 71st with a great cross in from Nagatomo. 1-1 all. That’s right, Allegri, 10 minutes before you subbed, the game was pulled out from beneath your feet, and it took you a full 10 minutes before you even reacted.

Stramaccioni, a younger, less experienced coach, completed his subs in the 77th when Nagatomo was injured. Allegri waited still, and finally pulled Boateng off in the 81st for Niang. Then Balotelli paid back Ranocchia with a little foul in the 84th. Bojan Krkic replaced the goalscorer, El Shaarawy in the 87th, and Niang had a great shot saved in the 89th. Zapata, wanting some attention after working so hard on the night, fouled Palacio in the 89th and got a yellow card. A credit to our defense, and even our midfield, Palacio and Cassano were both nullified and kept off the scoreboard. In the 90th, Allegri actually used his third sub and brought on Ambrosini for Muntari, who is still not 90 minutes match fit, despite being played for 90 minutes a few times already. There was a great moment in the 91st where Abbiati came out and made a nice save, and then Montolivo was there to clear the resulting rebound. Montolivo was great, I actually thought our midfield worked much better tonight, it showed in our ability to connect and especially on the defensive side, too.

When Milan find 90 minutes of focus again, the world will be ours

A disappointment to see the burning flame of the first half burned out to mere ashes in the second half. Substitutions would have been helpful, but we still need to remember that this is a young team. With most of our positive results in the league involving luck in some way or another, we needed an extra helping if we were going to leave the snake den with three points tonight. Instead, we got a fair referee who I thought did a great job. And we made our own luck again with hard work and talent. I thought most everyone played decently, we just lacked that extra grinta we saw on Wednesday to change the match. It simply wasn’t enough to take all three points tonight, and that’s not the end of the world. It won’t be long before our fire burns for 90 minutes consistently, and with a little luck, too, maybe Allegri will remember what we thought he learned last season: substitutions are our friends. Until then, I will hold this in my heart and believe in the future: Red like the fire, Black like your fear.”

This post inspired by the music of The Cure

Look for the next Milan Obsession podcast this week

Inter 1, Milan 1: Red Like the Fire, Black Like… Inter 1, Milan 1: Red Like the Fire, Black Like… Reviewed by Elaine on 3:30 PM Rating: 5
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