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Milan-Cagliari Preview: The Smoking Gun


As if either team’s fans weren’t aware of the season they’ve fallen victim to, Saturday night’s showdown features two coaches whose futures are also suspect. With Cagliari in the relegation zone, 4 points behind 17th and Milan in a shameful 10th place, tied with next week’s opponent, both teams will be desperate to grab the three points. But win, lose, or draw, come Sunday morning in the media and for the fans, it will be the coaches who will be the smoking gun.

Will Smoking Man be the smoking gun?

Zeman coached the first part of Cagliari’s season, was sacked, replaced by Gianfranco Zola, and then he replaced his replacement, who had a miserable 10 matches or so in charge. I don’t know how much confidence that gives him, that he was the lesser of two evils, but it won’t stop him from trying to bring down a wounded Milan. He’s also taking this very seriously, getting right down to work last week after he was re-appointed and locking the doors of the training facility for confidentiality purposes.

That work almost got him a win last weekend against Empoli. They were up 1-0 until they conceded a goal in stoppage time to earn a sole point from the match. For that home game, Zeman lined up Brkic; Murru, Balzano, Ceppitelli, Diakite; Crisetig. Joao Pedro, Dessena; Farias, Sau, and Mpoku. However, he will have to do without Balzano, who is suspended for this match. While he may be able to welcome back Ekdal and Donsah from their injuries, still questionable as far as fitness are Capuano, Gonzalez, and Colombi. I would suggest that they would have a steep road to climb playing away, but the San Siro is quite the opposite of a fortress this season, so it may actually almost be an advantage.

Looking for a new job sucks. So does being sacked before you're actually sacked.

Both Zeman and Inzaghi like to play attacking football. But Inzaghi still has a lot to learn from the goalmaster. In fact, almost everyone seems to agree that Inzaghi still has a lot to learn period, which he would probably also agree with. My solace is that we actually played better last week than we had for a while. So if he could string together another decent performance, improve upon it, and especially get the result, he may not have to avoid googling his name so much after the match.

Coinciding with this desperate need for three points is the return of De Jong. While he was not at all quick to divulge any decision about his future this week, I have no doubt he will do everything possible to play tomorrow and give us 100%. It is rumored that Montolivo and Rami may also be fit in time, but not certain. And then we will still be missing Zaccardo, Armero, Agazzi, Mastour, El Shaarawy, Zapata, and De Sciglio, of course. But with a team of 31 players, we’ll hardly even notice they’re missing, right?

"The General reporting for duty, Sir!"

I’m hoping… aww, forget it. I am really only hoping that the game doesn’t drive me to start drinking. Let’s face it, I will scream as loud in celebration as anyone else if we get the three points, but I also know better than to hold my breath for a positive result. Like Pavlov’s dogs, I am conditioned to Milan’s poor performances this season. But I will say that if one of these managers pulls off a win tomorrow, they could see their name linked with the other one’s job for next season. So maybe it’s actually more of a chance to audition for a position next year than to avoid being a smoking gun. But if Milan lose again, you might want to keep all guns out of my reach, smoking or no. I really don’t know how much more of this I can endure.


This post inspired by the music of Muse’s “Psycho”


Milan vs. Cagliari
Saturday, March 21 • 20:45 CET (3:45pm EDT)*
*note the time difference due to Daylight Savings Time

This match will be shown on RAI and BeIN Sports in the U.S.