Thursday, January 8, 2015

Torino-Milan Preview: In the Bull Pen


The phrase “in the bull pen” is more commonly associated with baseball. But our match on Saturday takes a literal approach to the phrase, in that we face il Toro in their stadium, or pen. This is no warmup, it’s do or die drop 3 more points against a lower table team. With the added storyline of Cerci potentially playing against the team that made him, it could end up a lot like a rodeo. Only will Milan be mere clowns? Or will we bravely defeat the bulls? Without any consistency this season, I wouldn’t put any money on it either way.

Yeah, it's gonna be kinda like that

Torino come into the match in 14th place with four wins, six draws, and seven losses. They started off the new year with a very frustrating draw away to Chievo on Tuesday, so will be looking for a result against Milan. For that match, Ventura lined up Padelli; Maksimovic, Gaston Silva, Glik; Molinaro, Farnerud, Gazzi, Vives, Darmian; Martinez, and Quagliarella.

One good omen is that Amauri, who seems to punish us no matter what team he plays for, is set to miss this match due to a muscle problem. That only leaves us with other ex-Juve players like Quagliarella and former Milan youth players like Darmian to worry about hurting us. Well there's Nocerino, but he could have signed with Parma before this even posts. However also missing will be Barettao, as he is injured. And there are question marks for Larrondo, Perez, and Sanchez Miño as well.

"Yes, Torino, I'm with someone else now. But we can still be friends, right?

Milan have a potential threat of their own now with Cerci facing his former team. That could go either way, especially considering he only has about 25 minutes of playing time with us at this point and is not fully match fit. He said the right thing, that he won’t celebrate against Torino if he scores, but let’s ease into that scenario and let him score one first. I am banking on his ties to Giampiero Ventura, though, who was his coach at both Pisa and Torino. Those three seasons were his best seasons. So if we can just convince him that he is playing for Ventura again, maybe he will be able to win this thing for us.

For Inzaghi, of course Honda is at the Asian Cup. Both Bonera and van Ginkel are still out injured, I believe. But Armero, De Jong, and Mexes are all eligible to play again after serving one match bans on Tuesday. And yes, Mexes is training with the squad again after injury, too, so could feature. Also, if you believe opposition fans, Rocchi could feature for us as well, as he has been appointed to ref this match. To be fair, he did earn a suspension after “helping” us in the past, so it’s easy to see how his loyalty could come under scrutiny.

"Who, me? You want me to sub on, Inzaghi? Sure. I know what to do"

On the topic of scrutinizing loyalty, it’s easy to see why so many Milan fans are questioning their own loyalty these days. Which is understandable, given what is going on and has been happening these past several years. And those who are remaining loyal are likely to be numb, in severe pain, having panic attacks at the thought of watching these strangers wearing our shirts in the name of Milan, and more. Just remember that when… if… well in the hopes that Milan return to the European elite someday, the victories will be that much sweeter having suffered this now.

Speaking of suffering, I’m watching the game on Saturday, are you? No judgments from me if you don’t, but misery does love company. Despite everything that is going on, some tiny little speck in my Grinch-sized heart has hope that we will get a result. (It’s small so that if we don’t get a result, then it won’t hurt as much.) Let’s take advantage of Cerci wearing the Milan shirt now and Amauri being sidelined and unable to punish us as usual and also hope that Rocchi is not considered our 12th man. No controversy, no injuries, and maybe even three points… is that too much to ask? Probably. But if we are gonna be in the bull pen, we might as well leave it all out there.


This post inspired by the music of Neil Diamond’s “Hello Again”

Torino vs. Milan
Saturday, January 10 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)
This match is being shown LIVE on RAI and BeIn Sports in the U.S.