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Audi Cup - Milan 1, Sao Paulo 0: The Fountain of Youth


I talked about it in my previous post, but Allegri is quick to blame the youth when things go wrong. After complaining about it again postmatch yesterday, for some reason, he lined up a brilliant young side today. Only his plan backfired. They played much, much better than the other lineups we’ve seen so far in these friendlies. That’s right, a starting lineup with six players 20 or younger, and a total average squad age of 22.8 played well together, linking up and creating chances, much prettier football than we’ve seen otherwise. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it sure was refreshing. In fact if feels as if we found the fountain of youth.

Our fountain of youth?
First of all, let’s just get this out of the way. We broke our Audi Cup curse! We took third place! And we didn’t lose on penalties to a South American team for the first time ever! (Hmmm… I wonder if there’s a connection between trusting in youth and breaking the curse?)

Now then, our young ones really impressed, especially up front. Niang, El Shaarawy, and Petagna each challenged Sao Paulo’s keeper, Denis. And they worked well together while doing it. Petagna even hit the crossbar in the 41st. But it was the sub, Primavera forward Kingsley Boateng who scored the only goal of the game in the 52nd.

Boateng was assisted beautifully by Urby Emanuelson, who absolutely shone in his natural role as a left back. So a combination of experience and youth for the win… huh. Who knew? Meanwhile, Poli and Cristante did well enough, barring a sloppy tackle or two by Cristante and the yellow card in the 60th for Poli. Nocerino was okay, but he didn’t have a memorable performance one way or the other.

Vergara: some scary moments, but a lot more promising moments, too. Not bad for a kid.

The rest of the defense was a little questionable. Zaccardo ran a lot and made crosses to no one, but did little else. Pacifico had some good moments and some not good moments, as did Vergara. However Vergara’s good moments were a little more exciting, despite the errors. He looks like he might just be the real deal.

Amelia’s performance was incredibly impressive. Someone wants a new club, I think, or at least to keep his second spot. In fact, he was even named the player of the match. He had a number of great saves, and kept a clean sheet. That in and of itself says a lot about his performance. But the performance of the squad overall was just drastically improved from yesterday, and the main difference is that Allegri actually added more youth.

Kingsley Boateng was the decider on the night.

So I must say, Bravo Allegri! Like your hairstyle, you tried something new and it really worked for you. Now let’s see if we can trust in youth a little more often. I mean, this was just a friendly, not even a European side. But it’s nice to know we have some options. And I think the bigger key was finding the right balance of players. Always looking at that midfield, this one had the perfect combination of pace, creativity, and defensive capabilities (but not too much so.) Maybe having an average squad age of 22.8 is not realistic for Serie A matches, and especially Champions League matches. But we know we have a lot of talent and depth to pull from in our youth. And maybe just a little more time, a little more trust… maybe it will pay off. Instead of blaming our losses on our young players, why not embrace our youth? It paid off today. Maybe it will pay off in the future, even in much smaller quantities. Certainly this match felt like we’d finally discovered the fountain of youth.


This post inspired by the music of the Smiths’ “This Night Has Opened My Eyes”


Our next match is the
Guinness International Champions Cup Round 2
Milan vs. Chelsea
Sunday, August 4 • 6:30pm EDT