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Milan 2, Udinese 1: Housewarming


It would have been spectacular to say that Milan gave Balotelli a housewarming party that ended up with 3 points to welcome him. But the team themselves couldn’t quite pull it off, so Valeri and his team of refs stepped up and gifted the win instead. I wish it were any other way. Instead of the sweet, sweet taste of victory, it was a bit sour at the end. However, no matter how badly I feel for Udinese, it’s hard to be crushed watching Balotelli score a brace in his very first appearance for the club of his dreams. So however we got here, or whether or not we deserve it, Welcome Home, Super Mario!

Perche sempre mi?

Balotelli knows how to make an entrance. So 40 seconds in on his debut, he took a brilliant shot that hit the post, just inches away from scoring. He got the start due to a Pazzini injury during warmup. And after this performance, I’m not even sure that Pazzini wants to get well. But Super Mario certainly wasn’t alone in his efforts. In fact, in the 11th, Niang had an attempt almost point blank that Padelli miraculously saved. Niang didn’t stop there, though. He headed the rebound, which fortunately for Udinese was cleared by a defender. An explosive opening few minutes, though.

This amazing new offense thrilled throughout the first half, although Udinese were quick to counter whenever we lost focus, which was too often for my taste. Like in the 15th, when Montolivo earned his token yellow card for yet another clumsy tackle. Now he’ll miss Cagliari next week, that really hurts us. But it was in the 25th that the magic happened. El Shaarawy crossed the ball into Ballotelli, who slotted it in to the back of the net. 1-0 Milan. Cue erupting crowd of 35,000+ at the San Siro.

Worth every penny.

But the Balotelli show was just beginning. In the 28th he took a fierce shot from distance forcing Padelli into one of many great saves on the night. Padelli was huge, for his sake alone, I wish the reffing had been less controversial. Like the yellows awarded to Pinzi and Domizzi in the 13th and 38th respectively that were pretty soft calls. But I couldn’t dwell too much on those things during the match, as I was distracted by amazing things such as a Niang clearance at the back in the 35th. I guess Berlusconi and Galliani decided instead of buying new defenders, they would just buy strikers who also play defense. Niang was simply beast today, if Balotelli inspired his brilliance, then they must always play together.

The second half was our normal first half. We kind of fell apart, even if we at least showed some sense of urgency. We were just careless & made too many mistakes. Like in the 52nd, when Bonera was beaten by Di Natale. Luckily for us, Di Natale also did not connect with that cross. Or in the 55th, when a slight deflection by Zapata saw Pinzi score, 1-1 all. El Shaarawy had more shots in the second half, but Niang and Balotelli kept shooting, too. Padelli will have nightmares from our Triple Threat™ tonight.

A new way to spell team: Triple Threat™

In an effort to prevent alcoholism on our blog here, Allegri made a substitution in the 67th. He brought on Bojan for Nocerino. I thought Nocerino had been pretty effective, the other two midfielders getting tired and sloppy, but whatever. Bojan did energize the attack, and even got a shot off that was wide in the 80th. Which was more than I could say for Robinho, who came on in the 80th for Niang. And that’s the last I remember seeing him. With Niang’s attempt to break his 2nd goalpost this week in the 78th, I kind of feel like he would have been better off left on, but I know Allegri reads this blog, and he knows I will call him out if he doesn’t use all three subs. In the 82nd, El Shaarawy showed where Niang learned to defend with a great clearance all the way at the other end. TraorĂ© came on for Flamini in the 85th. The former not making much impact, unfortunately, and the latter not earning any cards. Amazing how when he plays so much better, he doesn't get carded. Huh. In the 86th, Balotelli took a free kick, but it was saved. And in the 91st, Bonera, having mainly made poor contributions on the night, contributed something very valuable: the leadership and calmness of a captain. When a controversy arose and both sets of players were surrounding the ref, he pushed back his teammates and calmly talked to the ref. Now if only he could play that well, too.

Milan is back.

In the 92nd minute, El Shaarawy was the victim of a tackle in the box, and this is where the big controversy arose. The defender got ball first, but it appeared to be a rough tackle. And so the ref gave Milan the penalty. The rest is history. Robinho was going to take it, but that was not going to happen on Balotelli’s watch. It was his homecoming, his party, and he stepped up and took it like a boss.  2-1 Milan. Padelli didn’t deserve that, after all of his super saves, and Udinese deserved something from a game that they were simply tough as nails throughout. Despite Milan's 22 shots, 9 of which were on goal, Udinese should have probably had a point thanks to Padelli's heroics alone.

I would be lying if I didn’t have guilt, it’s what women do best. But I also have indescribable joy. I am so very happy for Super Mario. He seems so very genuinely happy, and I am so very happy for him. Whatever his psychological issues are, he has also been hounded by media and has actually survived the evils of the British Press. For that alone, he is a superhero. But watching what he brought to the pitch, to the stadium, and to the hopes and dreams of fans throughout the world, I am very, very excited. Another 3 points, drawing even with Inter on the table, and a successful and memorable housewarming party for Super Mario. Does it get any better than this? Let’s hope so. We still showed our weaknesses tonight. But the future is so much brighter when you have a superhero on your side. Benvenuto a casa, Mario. Grazie per i due gol! Third place, here we come. Balotelli is in the house.


This post inspired by the music of Elaine’s Milan Mix


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a Q&A hosted by @PDAcquaviva
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