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Trofeo TIM Tournament: A Preseason Derby Winning 45 Minutes of Mediocrity Trophy

Winning the Trofeo TIM has never been something to write home about. Especially if you believe the curse, that the winners don’t go on to win the Scudetto that season. But beating Inter is always something to brag about. Like a superhero defeating a villain, every meeting is a Derby, every meeting means more than just a game. Watching Inter lose to Sassuolo and thus come dead last in a tournament that no one cares about was also enjoyable. And to a certain extent, there was some pleasure in our worst players finishing the deal, even if it had to be on penalties, and raising a trophy amongst the also mediocre pyrotechnics while Inter fans sobbed and tried to pretend that they didn’t care. So despite the bizarre 45 minute match format and the mediocrity associated with the preseason friendly, or even the virtually inconspicuous debut of Goal Line Technology, this one left me smiling.

Those smiles aren't for the trophy as much as they are for beating Inter

The match vs. Inter was great. Mancini did not hold back with his lineups, but as usual, he did hold back whatever skills he thinks he has a coach. So delicious to watch the student (even if he is also a friend) eclipse the master in such a short time. Also so very delicious when Bacca served up a great cross for Bertolacci in the 4th minute, who took it on the volley, used a bounce, and made Handanovic pay. 1-0 Milan. But even before the drool on our jerseys dried, Bacca wove through traffic brilliantly and took a strike in the 22nd from distance. And although it did take a slight deflection on Handanovic’ leg, it had too much power and he could only helplessly watch it hit the back of his net. Brilliant. 2-0 Milan. 

Maybe he'll come good on that €20m after all

Mancini did make a fateful change after conceding that second goal, he brought on Brozovic for Hernanes in the 24th. Which is how Inter pulled one back on us, Brozovic scored in the 31st. 2-1 Milan. As if that wasn’t enough madness for a short 45 minutes, Alex got himself sent off in the 38th for politely stopping Icardi. My hat is off to him for keeping it polite, because that vile snake is very hated, and it would have been easy to go all Mexes on him. So with Alex seeing red, Mihajlovic sacrificed Honda and brought on Romagnoli for his unofficial debut in the 39th. Almost immediately, he had this amazing goal line clearance that saved Lopez and us, it was brilliant. Certainly enough to fuel the imaginations of possibilities for our newest young hero with us insatiable fans. But also enough to help us hold out and defeat Inter for the second time this summer and earn the one hour rest break that winning the first match affords. Did I mention beating Inter? While we were on ten men? Bravo, Ragazzi.

Feel free to give the glory to your god, Carlos, but if you don't mind, we're all just gonna worship you right now.

Does it even matter what happened after that? Well, it was awesome watching Sassuolo take down Inter 1-0, too. But beating Inter was the only thing that mattered tonight, I bet the guys couldn’t wait to bring the trophy on the train home for the ride home together…. hahahaha. I’d love to be on that train. I hope Bacca sat next to Murillo to show him his player of the tournament award. And I hope Kondogbia is crying himself to sleep realizing the error of his ways after being punished twice by Milan before the season even starts.

However, we did play Sassuolo, and they put up a fight, actually. Duncan scored in the 7th minute, and with our limp, sad, B team playing their “I don’t care, I have a contract” game, it seemed that beating Inter was the only thing that we were going to do today. But Suso was a demon, determined to score despite the roadblocks called Cerci and Matri in front of him, even if he got a little heated by the end. Our old pal Acerbi came on for Sassuolo and made a great goal line clearance of his own, still looking to impress the team of his heart, I think. Mihajlovic either got frustrated or felt the need to give a few others some minutes, so brought on THE NOCE for Mauri, Paletta for a very spastic Mexes, and De Sciglio for Antonelli, all in the 24th.

Romagnoli showing Jovetic where the losers who play for Inter go

Cerci, unable to make his mark on the game in a positive way, spouted off to the ref and got a yellow for it in the 34th. It was a 45 minute match, you couldn’t stay quiet that long? Montolivo was deplorable, nothing new, and Matri… I guess with a girlfriend like that, he thinks he doesn’t need to score on the pitch? It was the usual, slow and playing just as bad as last year, just like every other time Mihajlovic has fielded our second choice squad. But what Sassuolo never saw coming was THE NOCE. That’s right, Nocerino, back from Parma and not getting paid, wanted to show these entitled girls how to win, so in the third minute of stoppage time, he sent a classic Nocerino shot in to tie it up, 1-1. And that is how we got to penalties.

Acerbi, are you better than a 16 year old? 

Two heroes with the penalties: Donnarumma and once again, THE NOCE. Donnarumma, our 16 year old go-to guy for the penalties, saved both Berardi and Acerbi’s penalties, even if he almost got to at least two others. So even if Montolivo’s weak kick was also saved, Donnarumma’s saves were decisive. But it was THE NOCE who put the nail in the coffin, sealing the deal for the trophy with his penalty, the unexpected hero of our second choice team that probably wasn’t expected to win.

And that is how we won our fifth Trofeo TIM. Our second in a row. We took Inter out of the equation, the team that used to be able to last 45 minutes. Mihajlovic defeated his friend and mentor… again, he’s two for two now. Whatever that may or may not mean for our season, depending on whether or not you believe the curse, let’s focus just a little bit more on how we beat Inter. Again. Because it may have seemed just a meaningless preseason non-FIFA-sanctioned tournament, but anytime we play Inter, it always means so much more. And with the Derby coming up early this season, it is particularly delicious to think of the possibilities.

Dear Mancini, this is what a return on your investment looks like. 

If we keep fielding the likes of Montolivo, Cerci, Matri, etc., we’ll keep getting what we got last year with that level of player. But when we field our starting lineup, we have shown that we can hang with the best. We can certainly defeat that expensive pile of talent Mancini keeps locked away with his “tactics.” And beating Inter is one of the best, most noble and divine things Milan or anyone can do in this world. That’s two Derby wins this summer. Not bad for preseason mediocrity. Oh, and thanks for the trophy, too.

This post inspired by the music of Queen’s “We Are the Champions”

Our next match is
Coppa Italia Third Round
Milan vs. Perugia
Monday, August 17 • 21:00 CEST (3pm EDT)