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Milan 3, Palermo 2: Brace Yourselves

It’s hard not to be thrilled with three points. Especially at home, in front of the fans who are the team’s worst critics. Strike that, the team’s second worst critics. Or maybe third. The media has a nasty habit of grabbing one player and crucifying them, but no one does that better than social media. It’s like people are watching Twitter now, instead of the game. Or at least looking to Twitter to tell them what to think about players. But I digress. We won. With an amazing brace by Chewie (Bacca,) and a beautiful free kick from Bonaventura. People in the stadium looked happy, and a win will do that. But if you think that I am happy, you should probably brace yourselves.

There were certainly things to be happy about

Mihajlovic nearly found himself in the horrible position of needing to make two substitutions due to injury in the first fifteen minutes. That was scary. As it was, Abate took another knock and had to be subbed off in the 17th for Calabria. Despite being worried about poor Abate and then using a sub so early, it was a fantastic to see Calabria get about 75 minutes, he did incredibly well. The other early injury was to Kucka, or Kuco, who apparently is indestructible, and stayed in the game for 90 minutes, sending in the assist for the winning goal.

But it was Chewie who stole the show tonight. His first goal came in the 21st with a Bonaventura assist, and it felt amazing to watch us go up first with a goal like that. 1-0 Milan. Despite Adriano’s beastly efforts, he was unable to score. But it was Hiljemark, who matched Bacca’s brace, who also deflated the celebration balloon for fans in the 32nd. He scored a header, from a corner. 1-1. If that sounds familiar to you, there may be a reason why. When you are trying to rebuild mentality, and you bring back a leader with the same mentality and qualities, you are likely to get the same results.

Now if Chewie can just find his Han

I know that Mihajlovic has justified his choice of midfielders by pointing out that Montolivo has certain “qualities.” Only as I discussed after the Derby, comparing personal stats side by side, De Jong has a lot more quality in almost every category. But there is something Montolivo has that De Jong lacks. It’s not something that can be measured by mere stats, but impacts the game as much or more as anything measurable. And that is complacency.

If there are 11 Milan players on the pitch and two are not running, you can bet one is the keeper and the other is Montolivo. If there is a misplaced pass, a senseless foul or a stupid yellow, a wasted shot from distance, or a pass not intercepted, he’ll be there. If Pirlo was considered a metronome, Montolivo is like some kind of visual hypnosis technique: “You don’t need to run so fast. You don’t need to intercept every pass…” When he plays, his complacency affects the whole team. We are a different team when De Jong, with his win at all costs attitude, plays. And even if their stats were more similar, complacency is not a quality I want on my team.

More than luck

Back to the game itself, though, how about Bonaventura’s free kick in the 40th? That was anything but luck, it was a thing of beauty. 2-1 Milan. He was beast again tonight. I don’t know what happened, but Iachini got sent off in the wake of that free kick. I assumed it was for his infernal baseball cap, but I suppose it could be football related. Especially since his assistant was also sent off after the half. (It was for dissent, he was complaining abou fouls, but I’m clinging to the baseball cap theory.)

In the 56th, a worse injury concern, this time to Djurdjevic, who had to be stretchered off. Which allowed Gilardino to come on in his place. I’m sure Iachini was saving him because he heard that he can’t score at the San Siro, anyway (although to be fair, he did assist in their second goal.) After Balotelli subbed on for Adriano in the 70th, apparently our defense was so in awe that they let Hiljemark practically walk a goal in in the 72nd. 2-2. But Chewie was not having any of that, so he scored a great header in the 75th, assisted by a beautiful cross from Kucka. 3-2 Milan.

Go down an Abate? We've got Calabria for you. 

So many things to talk about, so little time. Let me just say that those of you criticizing Honda for not creating enough attacking chances, we are getting plenty of attacking chances. 18 shots tonight with eight on goal, and on Sunday it was 19 shots. Maybe that is why Berlusconi stopped short of buying a midfielder, because he realized players like Adriano and Bacca can create chances on their own (a ridiculous theory, but not as ridiculous as not buying a much needed player.) Honda’s defensive work is allowing those chances to be created. If you don’t believe me, put down the Twitter and watch the actual game. We took a step back tonight in many areas, especially intensity of play and focus. We also played 75 minutes with a back line with the average age of 22. But please don’t call Villareal to bring back Bonera just yet. The team is a work in progress, and sometimes progress is made by taking a step backwards. (Or benching someone complacent.)

Did you watch the Twitter version of Honda? Or the actual version, in the game?

But despite concern for the drop in performance level for much of the game, we got the win. Three points, and hopefully the injury concerns will not supersede the value of those three points, as we are away to Udinese on Tuesday. Chewie’s brace was divine, and Bonaventura’s free kick was a thing of beauty. Though it was very unconvincing at times, we did come back after conceding two goals and get the win. Now we have just two days to prepare for another tough team. Brace yourselves.

This post was inspired by the music of U2’s War album

Our next match is
Udinese vs. Milan
Tuesday, September 22 • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)

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