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Milan-Roma Preview: Gold Rush


This preview was meant to be about what an important match this is for us. How three points will give us Champions League qualification for next year, and the prestige and money that goes along with it. How Roma interrupted our run of form in December with a resounding 4-2 defeat, and why they might try to repeat that performance on Sunday at the San Siro. But all of that pales in comparison to the more important issue that has dominated the thoughts and fears of Milan fans worldwide since yesterday: what our players will be wearing.

I wonder if you can turn these jerseys in to those cash for gold places.
The prospect of gaining Champions League qualification loses some of its glitter when faced with the reality that we might be competing in that tournament with a third kit that is blindingly… gold. As a California native, having studied about the Gold Rush of the mid 1800’s it makes me wonder… if a prospector from that era were to see the new Milan third kit, would he survive? I mean that much gold, in one place, and with a handy pocket to hold extra gold nuggets? I am quite sure it would be too much to comprehend and cause an immediate coronary and imminent death. Which is nearly the reaction I had when I saw it yesterday. Maybe it’s just the Californian in me. But if I’m from the Golden State, living so close to Hollywood and all of its glitter, and I think it’s too much, then how can anyone think it is tasteful? Or even appropriate? If there’s one thing I learned early in life, it’s that not all that glitters is gold.

But for Sunday, maybe I should hope that maybe all that glitters is gold, considering the dress code. Although I have never experienced glittery football, I hope that despite being made to look like cheap gold watches that you buy on the street, our team plays really good football, more like elite Rolex watches. Because despite having been beaten by Zeman’s attacking, but less successful Roma in December, I almost fear Andreazzoli’s more defensive and definitely more successful team now.

Perhaps the Roma job will come down to who can gesticulate the best (sorry, Andreazzoli. Allegri wins)

Roma ‘s current form is D-W-D-W-W-L, but don’t let that fool you. Okay, let it fool you. Call it fool’s gold. They are very inconsistent. For example, the first draw was in the intense Rome derby. Whereas the other draw was to bottom of the table Pescara. And their loss on Tuesday that officially took them out of the running for third was to 11th place Chievo at home in the Stadio Olimpico. It is more likely that the Mayan calendar was correct and we are living in a post-apocalyptic world than it is likely to be able predict what Roma will do on Sunday.

However, I can tell you who Andreazzoli did lineup on Tuesday (since it is in the past): Lobont; Marquinos, Castan, Burdisso; Totti, Pjanic, De Rossi, Piris, Dodó; Osvaldo, Destro. I can also tell you that there is apparently a slight chance that Steklenburg could be fit for Sunday. And I can tell you that Osvaldo, like El Shaarawy, also has 16 goals on the season, so he will definitely be looking for goals, not gold. Considering that as a caretaker coach, Andreazzoli is auditioning for a contract for next year, he will truly want to make up for Tuesday’s loss, and maybe that draw against Pescara a few weeks back, too. And if you believe the papers, he will be facing off against his biggest competition for the Roma head coaching job next year, Allegri, too, so he will definitely be in it to win it. Plus, there is still the confirmation of the Europa League spots, so… let’s just say Roma hope that they are not the ones who will be wearing the fool’s gold.

"Are those kits made of real gold, or are Milan just trolling me?"

As for the team who will actually be wearing the fool’s gold (or are a prospector’s heart attack,) this is even more important than we thought the Napoli game was. Instead of just following a pipe dream for second place, we are panning for the gold of any participation in Champions League next year at all. That is no fool’s gold, that is some serious cash. So although it will be difficult to take the players seriously when they take the pitch in jerseys like gold lamé, rest assured they will be taking the match very seriously.

I like to believe that El Shaarawy was intentionally rested for the last 35 min. on Wednesday so he could be available to start on Sunday. Balotelli can boss even the tackiest jersey, so expect to see him, too. The question will be who else Allegri trusts to start up front: Niang was solid on Wednesday, but so was Robinho. And Pazzini came on with fire, too. Knowing Allegri, to compliment the sheer monstrosity of the jerseys, though, he’ll put Boateng up front. That would be fitting. Fool’s gold, indeed.

The attention to detail is amazing. A small, welted pocket at the right upper breast is what every footballer dreams of.

For the 37th consecutive league match this season, I will say that I would like Boateng to start in the midfield or not at all. Not that anyone will care, but I just have to say that so I can justify my postmatch comments about him. Speaking of the midfield, Ambrosini was on the bench on Wednesday, but should be available to start on Sunday, theoretically. And although Muntari scored on Wednesday, his skillset as a regista is nothing in comparison to il Capitano’s. Plus, Ambrosini had to do the promo pics in the gold shirts. He is probably traumatized, and should be compensated with the start. I would also start our current golden boy of the midfield, Flamini. I’d be afraid of him pulling a Flamini Special™, but he’s absolutely earned the start.

The defense is a bit of a conundrum. Allegri will probably have his usual question of De Sciglio or Constant, but with Constant’s ridiculous approximately 95% passing accuracy on Wednesday, the younger one may be spared the glare of the jerseys, even if he also did promotional pics. For me, there is a bigger conundrum at center back. Mexes should be back and 100%, but he always gives a little more than his all when we face Roma, his former club. Which is not a good thing. (cue red cards, fights, suspensions, etc.) So if Allegri is clever, he might put Yepes back out in his place. Also, Yepes’ skin and hair color is more likely to look decent in the new jersey, if that helps with Allegri’s decision.

Somehow the nose bandage seems the least tacky thing in this picture.

The jerseys will be such a distraction, but at the end of 90 minutes, if any of us are still enjoying the gift of sight, the result actually will be the most important thing. Maybe the gold jerseys are meant to represent the money that the Champions League offers, and so will serve as a glaring reminder of just how much is on the line in this match. Or maybe Adidas just got a deal on the hideous metallic fabric and decided to punish its biggest club who has had the most ridiculous season. I’m not sure. But what I hope is that our boys play the game of their lives, seal third place and our Champions League dreams for next season. Then the jerseys will be lucky, a kind of cultural phenomenon. Just like a gold rush.


This post inspired by the music of the Stone Roses’ “Fool’s Gold”

Milan vs. Roma
Sunday, May 12 • 20:45 CEST (2:45 EDT)
This match will be televised LIVE on RAI in the U.S.
(check comments for streams prior to kickoff)