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PSV Eindhoven 1, Milan 1: Into the Fire


Van Bommel tried to warn Milan. He said PSV were a young, quick team with a lot of firepower. So Allegri did the same thing he’s always done. Stick his head in the sand, and lined up his slow, defensive midfield and his midfielder-come-striker who boasted the most failed shots in Serie A last season. So it shouldn’t have surprised me when PSV came out on fire. They attacked the game with pace and machine gun-like shooting. Milan were essentially thrown into the fire.

And they said he couldn't score a header

I still feel shell shocked from the first 15 minutes or so. Milan were on the ropes and PSV just had shot after shot after shot. Then, as we were just remembering that we could also gain possession and take shots, Abate took advantage of a defensive error, sent in a great cross for El Shaarawy, who headed it in in the 15th. 1-0 Milan. Yes, you read that correctly. Abate had an assist, and El Shaarawy scored with his head.

This goal was so incredibly important, because it gave Milan back their composure and confidence. In fact, just one minute later, Balotelli sent a great shot in that forced Zoet into an amazing tip over the crossbar. At the other end, Abbiati was tested again and again. In all, PSV had 14 shots, 10 on target, which means he had 9 saves. He will no doubt rue “the one that got away,” as he got to it in time, blocked it, but was unable to hold onto it, and it came back to haunt him in the 61st, 1-1. The worst of it was that it came when Milan were probably playing their best, so we lost some confidence.

The unstoppable Balotelli and il Faraone connected very well all night

The disciplinary situation was interesting. Montolivo could have been carded 4 different occasions, including a free kick just outside of the box in the 17th. But luckily the free kick was cleared, and he was also able to avoid the ref’s ire, as well. Boateng, however, was not so lucky, as he earned his yellow in the 38th by elbowing a player as he came down from an aerial challenge. Muntari earned his in the 64th, he probably could have had a couple of cards as usual, too. But it was Balotelli’s dumb shirt tug and subsequent yellow in the 70th that could prove the most costly down the road, should we qualify.

There were some funny moments, like Muntari’s failed bicycle kick attempt in the 13th, and some breathtaking moments, like Abbiati’s back to back saves in the 32nd. Other than Montolivo’s clumsy fouls, he was quite good, as was De Jong. Mexes was great, although his two late shot attempts showed he wasn’t a striker, and Zapata also did well enough, barring an occasional error.

And they said he couldn't cross or make assists...

But it was Abate who was beast on the right, and Urby did quite well on the left, too. Suprisingly well. Balotelli and El Shaarawy linked up very well, too, but Boateng really didn’t contribute a lot more than the pass to Abate which led to the goal. He certainly had more dumb fouls and errors than noticeable contributions. I noticed again how deep Balotelli plays when Boateng plays on the right wing, and it was disappointing, as I think we should have had more than one goal from this match, and he seemed hell bent on getting it.

But as you can probably guess, I am most upset with Allegri. A lot of people were saying his choices for his starting 11 were justifiable. But I don’t think so at all. Why do you try to match young pace with old tacklers? Just imagining what we might have done with Niang instead of Boateng and Poli instead of Muntari is so frustrating, as we could have at least matched their pace. And speaking of pace, there are two more reasons I am so angry with Allegri: when the game changed in the 61st and PSV equalized, he should have made a change for tactics alone. When the game changes and you don’t, you get burned. And the other reason is since this was our first match and we were an “older” squad in comparison, we lacked the pace in the first place, so by the end of the second half, it was very obvious.

A fleeting appearance was enough to know he should have played more

In both of these situations, Allegri absolutely should have subbed at a reasonable point in the game. For fresh legs and for tactics. But he waited until the 78th, when he brought on Poli for De Jong, who ironically he rated as one of our most fit players just last week. Also, Cocu, whose team had played 5 competitive matches already and was undoubtedly more fit, had already subbed 2 players by this point, and used his third in the 89th. Whereas Allegri waited until Boateng seemed to have picked up a knock to sub him in the 84th and bring on Niang. Ironically, both Poli and Niang each had shots in their 12 and 7 minutes on the pitch respectively, Poli's showcased his amazing skills. Which begs the question, what could these two have done in 30 minutes? Or in 90?

One game in and you're on my list, Allegri. Not good.

But that is a question that we will never know the answer to. Because, after looking so flexible in the summer, Allegri proved once again today that he will never change. And now we have the away goal and home advantage going into next week, but we face a side that is young and tough, and us with a coach who is older than his passport shows and more stubborn than a mule. So we can expect a similar lineup next week, but to achieve a similar result would be more than lucky. With €30m on the line just for qualifying, we simply can’t leave our Champions League season to fate. Our matchup with PSV threw us into the fire. But with our manager and his unwillingness to change in any way shape or form, we are likely to get burned.


This post inspired by the music of Front 242

Our next match is
Hellas Verona vs. Milan
Saturday, August 24 • 18:00 CEST (12noon EDT)