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Inter 1, Milan, 0: Great Expectations


This Derby seemed win-able. Our squad were match fit with only a few injuries, and they seemed newly motivated after a couple of performances that were more reminiscent of the Milan of past years. On the other hand Inter, obviously a better squad on paper, were still trying to gel and find their form together after a number of last minute changes in the transfer market. They had eeked out a couple of wins thus far thanks entirely to one player’s heroics, so it just seemed like maybe they were beatable. With all of this in mind, I think a lot of us had great expectations.

Yeah, it kinda felt like that.

Of course any fan would expect their team to win, especially a Derby. Playing your cross town rivals increases the anticipation tenfold. But this match was different than the matches in recent years in that our expectations somehow changed from the beginning of the match until afterward. Milan came out firing on all cylinders and were undisputedly the better team for the first half. Even in the second half when a few players started to fade, they played with heart and left it all out on the pitch. In hindsight, that was nearly as good as a win. In fact, the performance exceeded expectations so well that I think the disappointment is just that a lot of fans just hate seeing Inter win and go top of the table undeservedly. 

The second half saw the singular goal, from Guarin in the 58th. 1-0 Inter. No one is talking about how the pass to Guarin went right through a Milan player, a player who not only didn’t try to intercept it at all, but casually jogged after Guarin to watch it go into the back of the net, despite De Sciglio’s desperate attempt to run and tackle him (from further away.)

Have we become so  accustomed to terrible performance that an improved one is okay?

So who was this apathetic player? Why our dear captain, of course. And while he can’t be blamed entirely for the conceding of the goal, he certainly did not do his part to prevent it. All of the experts were predicting that the game would be won or lost in the midfield. And they were right. Mihajlovic explained later that he put Montolivo in instead of De Jong for his different qualities. I can understand the thinking behind that, but I believe Mihajlovic has seriously overrated Montolivo’s qualities. And while I absolutely agree with everyone who has pointed out that this was a much improved match for Montolivo, the thing no one is talking about is that an improved Montolivo is still inferior to De Jong in most ways. Specifically in intercepting passes like the one that led to the goal. And tackling errant Inter players.

In fact, after looking at both of their stats so far, all of the things I never liked about Montolivo show up as worse than De Jong: long range useless shots, being dribbled past, being dispossessed (without even dribbling,) too many long balls, and especially a lower pass success rate. There were a few things like clearances that Montolivo surprised with today, but overall, De Jong is still the more effective player in my book. Also an interesting choice to have Montolivo play 90 minutes when he’s still working back to fitness. But whatever.

"Kuco's" debut didn't overly impress, but did not disappoint, either.

Kucka surprised a lot of fans. While I’m not convinced he brings a lot to the midfield that we didn’t already have, he works very hard and took one for the team early on in the match thanks to Juan Jesus. You have to give him credit for playing through that. And speaking of giving credit, Balotelli was immense when he came on in the 62nd, right after the goal. Not only did he force a Handanovic miracle save, he hit the post in the most heartbreaking of ways. Particularly since the Inter fans started their chants against him well before the game, it would have been nice to see him answer their jeers with a goal. Or two. However the biggest surprise may have been Rocchi, who gave what may be a record low total of only five cards, and did surprisingly well.

I am puzzled a bit as to Mihajlovic’ subs. As I mentioned earlier, Montolivo faded a lot in the second half, and a fresh De Jong would have done wonders to not only prevent the Inter waves of attack, but may have even helped us offensively, too. But instead, he pulled off Bacca, who had an amazing first half, when it was time to bring Balotelli on. Adriano had missed a lot of shots he shouldn’t have, and I think that a lot of fans would have preferred to see him sit. Kucka off for Poli in the 72nd made sense, but I’m not convinced about Cerci on for Honda. I mean, I get that you have two attacking players left on the bench, and he is not fond of Suso for some reason. But when the other player is Cerci, don’t you go back to Suso? Because bringing on Alex to play in attack would have probably been more fruitful than Cerci. I hope all of these old Fiorentina connections disappear soon and Mihajlovic stops looking at them through Viola colored glasses. They are not the players you used to coach, Mister.

Balotelli kept his cool against the worst kind of Inter scum, to the disappointment of the media.

While it was appalling to watch Inter celebrate the win, and painful to watch them atop the table for at least a week now, we need to remember that Milan were top of the table at the beginning of last season, too, and we all know how that ended. So knock yourselve out, Inter. We'll be there to laugh when you fall, I promise. Also, at least if you look down at 16th place on the table, you see the fine work Allegri is doing at Juve, who have a grand total of one point from three matches. So the positive to take from this match is that at least we haven’t self-destructed like Allegri’s Juve. And that it was an entertaining game, with our players giving it 100%. Beyond that, we’ll just have to manage our great expectations a little better next time, I guess.


This post inspired by the music of Nitzer Ebb’s “Violent Playground”


Our next match is
Milan vs. Palermo
Saturday, September 19 • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)


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