Coppa Italia Quarterfinals • Milan vs. Udinese: Destination Europe

Tomorrow’s Coppa Italia match vs. Udinese wouldn’t mean too much in a normal season, but this is no normal season. Instead, each Coppa match must be considered do or die, as winning the whole thing could be our only ticket to European competition next year. Which I’m not even sure we want, with the extra matches and potential for fatigue and injury. But Milan are Europe, it’s in our DNA. And even if it is basically impossible to reach the Champions League next season, where we belong, it seems wrong to want anything less than the highest that we can achieve. After all, we’re the sole Italian team left for the knockout stages of the Champions League this season, it would be tragic not to follow the other “top teams” in Serie A.

That patch could be our ticket to Europe next season

Udinese are having a season that is almost as bad as ours. And despite having knocked Inter out of the Coppa Italia for us with a single goal from Maicosuel, they could really use the boost that winning tomorrow would provide them, too, even if they are much less likely to compete in the following rounds. Earlier in the season, when they were in better form and we were in worse form, we managed to defeat them with a goal from Birsa at the San Siro, so I am hopeful that having home advantage and a new manager will give us the boost to send us through to the semifinals, where either Siena or Fiorentina will be waiting for us in two weeks.

After knocking Inter out two weeks ago, Udinese suffered two painful defeats in the league. A terrible 3-0 loss at the hands of a revived Sampdoria, then a painful 3-2 loss on Sunday to 10 men Lazio, who came from behind twice to take all three points (with the help of a Lazzari own goal.) Guidolin lined up Brkic; Danilo, Domizzi, Heurtaux; Badu, Basta, Santos, Pereyra, Pinzi; Di Natale, and Maicosuel. As far as I know, Guidolin will have a full squad available to him outside of backup keeper Benussi, who is still out with a long-term injury. But even with a full squad, Udinese have been struggling, even if they fight with heart in every match.

Oh, yeah, still feelin' the love

Seedorf, on the other hand is still missing El Shaarawy, Amelia, Constant, Saponara, Abate, and now Bonera for this matchup. Abate is back training with the group, but is not expected to return to the squad until Sunday. This is also the one competition Muntari is currently available for, so it will be interesting to see if he is called up or perhaps even starts. With all of the new hugs and smiles going around, it may not matter as much who is in the starting 11. Seedorf’s team is powered by heart. (Now let’s hope that their fitness and talents will back up the heart.)

Most everyone concedes that this season is a wash, and that this six months is a chance for Seedorf to find his footing and see what he can get this squad to do under his watch. But Seedorf wants to create a “new winning cycle,” so I expect everyone to give it everything they’ve got. With a growing wave of confidence and two wins in two games post-Allegri, the Coppa Italia semifinals may be just within our reach. With 100% effort and heart (and maybe a little luck,) we will be 90 minutes closer to Destination Europe.

This post inspired by the music of R.E.M.’s “Radio Free Europe”

Coppa Italia Quarterfinals
Milan vs. Udinese
Wednesday, January 22 • 21:00 CET (3pm EST)
This game is NOT being shown LIVE in the US
(BeIN Sport will show the game approx. 2 hours late)
Check here for stream links before the match

Coppa Italia Quarterfinals • Milan vs. Udinese: Destination Europe Coppa Italia Quarterfinals • Milan vs. Udinese: Destination Europe Reviewed by Elaine on 12:00 AM Rating: 5
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