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Fiorentina 0, Milan 2: Momentum

When the pendulum swings one way, it’s going to swing back the other way, so long as it has momentum. The momentum of this awful Milan year had not been swinging our way at all. First we couldn’t find results consistently and played awful football. Then Seedorf came in and made everyone smile and we got some results but still struggled to play well for more than 60 minutes. Then we started playing better and for longer, but were losing. But on Sunday, our playing was still somewhat poor, yet we got the draw. And then today, we played not-the-greatest and got the win. Seems like finally the momentum may just be catching up with us.

An emotional celebration for an emotional victory

I think the referee association may have warned Orsato about the bad blood last year between the two teams, either that or he thought that the “O” in his last name was for Oprah, and that everyone should get a card. He handed out ten yellows in all, three for the home side and a whopping seven for Milan: 16th Balotelli (dissent), 42nd De Jong (bad tackle on Valero), 52nd Constant (bad tackle on Cuadrado), 67th Taarabt (foul on Cuadrado), 70th Abbiati (timewasting), 78th Bonera (foul on Valero), and 87th Mexes (foul on Matos.) This means we will miss Constant and Mexes vs. Chievo.

Needless to say, this unattractive style of football is more effective, as it is more defensive than Seedorf’s original style of play (and strangely familiar.) However, I like that he built the attack and taught them to press first, because they don’t just sit back and defend like prior incarnations of this team. Slowly but surely, even if it’s not pretty, this squad is playing more and more like a complete team, with attack and defense.

Now if they can remember how to celebrate

Although I’m not a fan of stats, they back this up, too. We only maintained 41% possession for the whole match, but took 15 shots, with six on target and obviously the two goals. We tallied up a whopping 30 fouls, which shows our sloppiness in tackling, but we still made 17 tackles, which just didn’t happen in the first half of this season. We’re playing like a squad of students, but luckily, today those students did their homework, and it paid off. Fiorentina almost mirrored our past errors, taking 10 shots with zero on target and maintaining 59% possession. Not surprising, as some of our worst performances this season yielded high percentages of possession, yet some of our best results came in matches where we had our lowest percentages of possession.

The match itself was never really boring, even if it wasn’t pretty. Fiorentina dominated the first 15-20 minutes, but Milan slowly but surely found our feet and took more shots. The first goal surprisingly came from Mexes, but it was a rebound from a Balotelli free kick that Neto could only parry away, and Mexes headed it into an open net. 1-0 Milan. If Milan were given points for celebrations, I think Mexes’ little “dance” may have put us at the bottom of the table. Instead, the goal broke Fiorentina’s spirit and put us on our way to our first victory in way too long.

His second goal of the season

The second half saw Milan late to come out onto the pitch, but whatever extra that Seedorf needed to tell them worked. Despite NASA radar alerting shots from the likes of Muntari and Taarabt and a couple that Neto tipped over, too, Matri stole the show with another horrible sitter in the 49th. He was spectacularly bad on the night, but his claim to fame will be breaking the wall on another Balotelli free kick. It was in the 64th, and Balotelli hit it like only he can. (which is probably why Matri moved, since he wanted to live to see his girlfriend again.) 2-0 Milan.

Now Milan were in the driver’s seat, even if they let Fiorentina have plenty of possession. They realized that the only way to stop Cuadrado or Borja Valero was to foul them, hence the 30 fouls and seven yellow cards. But they did whatever was necessary. And with a defense that included Bonera and Constant as fullbacks, they kept a clean sheet, too. Abbiati was put into action a couple of times, but that scrappy defense marked everyone but Matri, who of course, was never going to be a threat.

It is hoped that this result would please their majesties of the Curva Sud

Psychologically, despite all of the negativity surrounding Milan this whole season, or the way the players blamed themselves for not getting the results to prevent Allegri from being sacked, the momentum seems to be swinging our way, too. They look sloppy out there, make a lot of mistakes, but they believe in their sloppy mistakes, and that is finally making a difference. That, coupled with a Fiorentina team who have had some big injuries to deal with, played not-so-characteristically poor tonight, and were playing on 10 men plus Matri, that gave us the momentum to claim all three points without controversy at the Artemio Franchi.

If I am representative of Milan fans worldwide, this was a big win tonight. Not only because we did something Allegri’s sides have struggled to do all along – won against an upper table team – but because it’s harder to criticize and spread rumors about a team who comes out of 90 minutes victorious and can hold their heads high and say “We did this.” It may only be one league win, a midweek one at that, but for Milan fans, it’s worth celebrating in whatever state you prefer to do so. After all, it’s not every day we win, let alone away, or to a bigger team. This season may have seen our pendulum on the wrong side for too long, but even if it wasn’t the most attractive football, this game feels like the pendulum is finally coming our way. Momentum.

This post inspired by the music of Inno Milan

Our next match is
Milan vs. Chievo
Saturday, March 29 20:45 CET (3:45 EDT)

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