Coppa Italia • Milan-Sassuolo Afterthoughts

So on Tuesday Milan pulled out a 2-1 win vs. Sassuolo in the Coppa Italia, not without a few question marks, of course. The biggest one of course, is their owner, Squinzi, still a Milan fan? I mean the team of his heart sent the team of his pocketbook out of the competition. How does that feel? Also, Gattuso was in the stands, but when they panned to him, he looked kind of ill. Was it this Milan making him ill? Or had he eaten something bad for dinner? These are probably not the questions you were thinking of.

The King of the Coppa

The biggest question Milan may be asking is “Was it worth it?” De Sciglio sustained an injury in the 40th which has reportedly now been diagnosed as plantar fasciitis, an aggravation of a previous condition he has had. But what you really want to know is that it will likely keep him out for six weeks. If you read often, you’ll know that I blame his poor form this season on Conte – every time De Sciglio has gone to play with the national team this season, he comes back and plays poorly. Conte has also seen an absurd amount of injuries even just in training since he has been coaching Italy, and now he is at the San Siro watching and De Sciglio gets injured. Coincidence? I think not.

The other big question surrounds Zapata, who had an interesting game. He got schooled by Pavoletti early on, got a yellow for a foul on him in the 63rd, made a scary clearance in the 75th that was almost an own goal, and went head to head with Cannavaro in the 82nd, with the latter seeing the worst of that collision. But he also produced an important save on his nemesis Pavoletti in the 56th and took a knock. Not sure if that was when it happened, but now it turns out he has a fractured foot and will be out at least a month. Was it worth it?

How Galliani reacted to Pazzini's goal "There goes my mercato plans"

I suppose you will have to ask Galliani, who when Pazzini scored his brilliant goal on that awesome Cerci assist in the 38th, looked up at the scoreboard to confirm it was Pazzini that had scored and his face just said “I can’t put him on the market now.” Which is what Milan in fact said the day following the match, that Pazzini will stay. So despite the win, fooling with Galliani’s shady transfer plans may not have been worth it. Especially now that there are two new injuries, obviously, he’s got to go and replace those two defenders rather than shore up our midfield like he should have these past couple of windows.

Cerci was flagged offside at least twice, making him Inzaghi’s new favorite player. But will there still be room for Honda when he returns from his national team duty? I hope so, hopefully in the center, his natural position. So many people have hyped up Cerci so much, and he did play well for much of the game on Tuesday, but it remains to be seen if he can be consistent. Also with Pazzini scoring and producing several great shots, will Inzaghi now start him? Will he change formations and play him as a lone striker? Where does this leave Menez, who did not play on Tuesday? So many questions.

Menez' reaction to Pazzini's goal with Cerci's assist: "There goes my starting spot"

Something I absolutely loved was removing the shackles of Muntari and Montolivo from the midfield. Their slow pace and other “skills” are what I believe has kept our midfield from connecting and being able to get the ball to our attack more. Poli and Bonaventura were so much more dynamic in those roles, and I particularly liked the Bonaventura-El Shaarawy connection. It didn’t produce as much as I think it could, but made for some very exciting moments.

Also, Bonera did well enough when he came on for De Sciglio on the left at halftime. He clearly plays much better the further away he gets from the goal. So why not try him as a striker?

In the 49th, we saw a rare occurrence: De Jong was stripped of the ball by Pavoletti. But De Boss made up for it in the 86th when Poli’s brilliant shot was parried out by Pomini (who had quite a night, honestly,) and De Jong was there to send it screaming past the backup keeper for the winning goal. Which is another question for Galliani: When are you going to tie up that De Jong contract renewal? If scoring a goal means you stay with the team, then it’s time to get that pen to paper, whatever it costs.

One pen is all is needed to sign that contract, Galliani. Do it.

Some might argue that Sassuolo didn’t try hard enough to win. When Di Francesco kept his best trio of attackers on the bench until the 85th minute, bringing Zaza, Berardi, and Floro Flores, that question could be asked. Perhaps Di Francesco thought he could win this thing based on how poorly Milan played them just seven days ago in the league. Or perhaps he is more focused on improving in the league.

Which begs another question: do Milan really have what it takes to win the Coppa Italia? A lot of talk from the club this week about the direct qualification to the Europa League for the winner of the Coppa Italia. Is that now their plan B if we don’t finish high enough in the league? Has Galliani realized he is being outfoxed by every other European qualification-bound team in Serie A in the mercato? Because we face Lazio next, on Tuesday, January 27th, who are on a run of great form. Assuming a miracle occurs and we move to the semifinals, we will face one of Inter/Sampdoria or Napoli/Udinese in a two-legged affair in March and April. If an even greater miracle occurs and we can pull off a win in two matches, then we could potentially face Roma or Juve or any of the wild cards on that side of the table in the finals. Seems like we could easily run out of miracles well before that.

Sadly, these kids could be starting in Serie A before things change for the better at Milan

Perhaps it is just that Milan truly have become a midtable team now, something Twitter terrorists had a hard time coming to grips with earlier this week and misdirected their anger in a shameful way. But when you have two CEOs, three coaches in a calendar year, and 41 players in and 49 players out in just 2.5 years, that is what you are: a midtable team. So don’t go crying to people who don’t even make those decisions. You know where the accountability for that lies. And when the budget deficit for last year is officially announced in April, expect things to get more painful. It used to be that being a Milan fan meant more pleasure than pain. Now it is quite the opposite. We shouldn’t expect anything different until things actually change at the club. More faith in youth, more faith in players in general, better scouting, better purchases, and investing well… not just investing. Until that changes, enjoy every win, just like Tuesday’s. It may not happen as often as we like, so when it does, we should cherish it twice as much.

This post inspired by the music of The Prodigy

Our next match is
Milan vs. Atalanta
Sunday, January 18th • 15:00 CET (9am EST)

Coppa Italia • Milan-Sassuolo Afterthoughts Coppa Italia • Milan-Sassuolo Afterthoughts Reviewed by Elaine on 5:32 AM Rating: 5
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