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Torino 2, Milan 2: Super Smash Bros. Brawl


I blame myself for the violence. I painted Torino defender Kamil Glik as Public Enemy No. 1, when it was Milan who brought the brawling to the table. We bruised and bloodied them up, sent them off on a stretcher, and snatched two goals in the final minutes of the game to steal the point when they probably deserved all three. Worst of all, it was not even good football. In fact, it resembled a giant brawl more than a football game for most of the match.

Even the celebration wasn't pretty


Let’s just start with Allegri today, shall we? Granted, he is trying to switch back to the 4-3-1-2, and had new players to integrate, including the ridiculously overhyped return of Kaká to Serie A. But this midfield he continues to lineup is baffling to the point of being the world’s greatest unsolved mystery. He is like a plumber who purposely clogs a pipe and then expects water to flow through it. But his preferred lineup of Montolivo-De Jong-Muntari doesn’t work, never has, and never will, even if you lineup expensive legends in front of it. We needed a Poli today, and Allegri refused to start him. It took Montolivo pulling up injured in the 45th for him to get a clue, something we really didn’t need to have happen right now, with Champions League starting on Wednesday.

Then there is Robinho. I am still trying to figure out why he is still on our roster, other than to be locker buddies with his Brazilian friend Kaká. With El Shaarawy and Niang injured, he only had Robinho and Matri to choose from, really, and with his legendary Bromance with Matri, I understand why he would want to keep him close to him on the bench. But when Robinho was winded and virtually useless by the 30th minute or so, he had no choice but to send on Matri for the Brazilian in the 58th, the Brazilian has definitely overstayed his welcome at Milan. It was also an uncharacteristically early sub for a non-injury, too.

Even the I-Belong-To-Jesus Kaká indulged in the violence (ironically with Glik here)

But the most puzzling lineup is Muntari. Allegri once said something about how he liked the “physique” of his defensive midfielders. And while millions of fans worldwide have since been creeped out by potential implications of this statement, there is something to be said for strong players who can defend well playing in front of your defense, it’s like his very own 7-1-2 formation. But the problem with playing what seems at times like 7 defenders is that they struggle to play the ball forward well, creating that disconnect with the forwards that we’ve seen so often in Allegri’s midfield. And they turn the defense into a clown show, with poor communication and terrible placement, so our midfield turns into one giant eyesore.

I think when Berlusconi and Galliani told him to play the 4-3-1-2, they were remembering the diamond midfield, which functioned quite well, actually, and so they started collecting trequartisti instead of getting rid of the enviable collection of defensive midfielders Allegri has amassed. And to make matters worse, Muntari will force a goal in every once in a while, albeit with much better accuracy than his Ghanaian buddy Boateng did, which apparently justifies Allegri starting him every match. Even with all of the brutality, which has rightfully earned him the nickname Sulley “The Killer” Muntari. Nevermind that Poli scored on his Serie A debut and drew the penalty that saved our behinds tonight. It’s all about physique. Start Muntari every game and his foot is eventually going to connect with the ball before it hits the back of the net.

Mexes renders him immobile

But you were probably hoping to hear more specifics of the game. A highlight for me was in the 19th when Abbiati raced out to pounce on a ball, running faster than some of the players half his age. He was brilliant, especially in the first half, when the defense had it’s A game on. Mexes, Zapata, and De Jong were brilliant.

In my notes, pretty much every other note is “Muntari with another rough tackle.” Or “Muntari kicks Torino player again,” etc. But it wasn’t only him. Robinho clashed with Brighi in the 36th. His Holiness Kaká shoved Darmian around in the 39th. In the 51st, Balotelli was clearly preparing for Barca in the Champions league when he was clutching his face and rolling around enough to give Busquets a run for his money. De Jong bloodied up L’Arrondo in the 84th, and I think it was L’Arrondo who was stretchered off in stoppage time for having met one or more Milan players in a dark alley, I’m sure. So it was ugly.

Even Muntari's celebrations are threatening

The goals… D’Ambrosio scored in the 47th from a brilliant Cerci assist, the ball seemed to deflect slightly off of Zapata. 1-0 Torino. Then in the 71st, Cerci managed to get 1 v 1 with Abbiati with all kinds of space and slotted it in. 2-0 Torino. Milan’s goals were both incredibly controversial. After having a fairly clear penalty not called in the 66th when Balotelli was brought down in the box, Balotelli came back in the 73rd and virtually point blank shot what should have been a goal, but Padelli had the save of his life. So in the 88th, Muntari got his foot on a rebound and the ball slowly, almost painfully rolled in. The controversy was that Balotelli was offside. And while he tried to be involved in the play, he wasn’t, so Mr. Massa made a judgment call that could have seen him lynched and awarded the goal to Milan, 2-1. The last goal was a penalty, of course, awarded when Poli ran onto a planted defender, made contact and fell. It was questionable, and it was also painful for a bunch of bulls who had worked very hard for three points, only to see the perfect penalty taker, Balotelli, step up and convert it to tie the game at the whistle. 2-2. I hope Mr. Massa made it to his car okay.

It was meant to be a beautiful welcome home party, instead it was a brawl

The controversy incited a bit of a brawl at the whistle, and I would not be surprised if Mexes and possibly others are punished after the fact. Abbiati, who ended with the captain’s armband after Montolivo and then Kaká were subbed off, was trying to make sense of it all with the referee team. And Balotelli of all people seemed the most cool and collected, grabbing his hot-headed veteran friend Mexes out of the brawl and speaking calmly with the officials and others. But it was not pretty.

So we stole a point, and did something on the pitch for 90 minutes that looked more Super Smash Bros. Brawl than football. And now we have dropped five points in three games, that’s not good, either. We needed this three points, we needed the result for our confidence before Celtic, and instead we got injuries and possible suspensions. Sigh. It’s not like it’s 100% Allegri’s fault, but he shares a large part of the blame just for lining up his midfield brute yet again, for not being able to diagnose our cancerous midfield, and for not having anything better to yell at the boys to motivate them than “Dai Dai Dai.” Someday, we might play beautiful football again, but tonight was just a brawl.


This post inspired by The Smiths’ “Hatful of Hollow” album


Our next match is
Champions League Group Stage
Milan vs. Celtic
Wednesday, September 18 • 20:45 CEST (2:45 EDT)