Udinese 2, Milan 3: Two Shoes

In Spanish, “zapata” means “shoe.” So fitting, then, that each team today had a Zapata. And that each one of them scored. But neither shoe was golden, nor were they a matched set. And despite Milan holding out for the win, I can’t imagine they’re happy with the performance. While the learning curve is still in place, it is very disconcerting that the last convincing win we had was against a newly promoted Serie B side in the Coppa Italia. Not as disconcerting as those third kits, mind you.  But still, a win is a win. On paper, no one has to know how we got it, they will just see the three points. And it’s our second win in four days, too. So if I had to choose one of the two shoes, I’ll keep ours, thank you very much.

WARNING: This blog is not responsible for any damage to your eyes should you look at the pictures from the match. Continue at your own risk.
"They can dress us like nightmarish clowns, but we can overcome and get three points!" 

To put things into perspective, Mihajlovic makes more than double what Colontuano makes. And our wage bill is more than four times as big as Udinese’s, too. But what we saw on the pitch was not representative of that disparity in salaries, barring a few exemplary performances. Despite struggling to leave the past mentality behind, it is hard to get too excited about eeking out a win in this situation. Even if it was away, and a back to back win. And overcoming those hideous kits, too.

I had the unconventional perspective of watching the second half first, then going back later and watching the whole game again. Which was interesting, as everyone was raving about the way we played in the first half. Don’t know if it’s because of the order I watched it in, but I was not as impressed. The goals were great, it was a great feeling to walk in and see a 3-0 scoreline, and everyone worked hard. But I didn’t like the way we played. We were too defensive, and no one was linking up anywhere to attack. They probably just couldn’t see each other clearly after being blinded by those grotesque kits they were forced to wear. As a result, we had only nine shots in the whole game, with three on goal, as compared to 18 and 19 shots in the past two games. Needless to say, it was not surprising we conceded in the second half.

In the second half, we played on the defensive. Sure, I’m sure there was some confusion in the back when Calabria, who was both on a yellow card and had taken a big knock late in the first half, was subbed off for Alex. But the whole team was playing scared, that thing Mihajlovic keeps saying we need to leave behind. Or they had PTSD from wearing those repugnant kits for 45 minutes already. And as for Honda, whom many told me was disappointing today, I will say this: I watched the game specifically with him in mind. His teammates don’t pass to him. It’s like they think he has cooties, but they certainly don’t seem to understand the concept of a trequartista, even if he does. He chased down balls, had shot attempts blocked, and defended as deep as anyone else. And the few times he was given the ball, most of them were in our own half. As I said last time, he has to go back and defend to make up for the deficiencies of his teammates. Which is part of the reason we were playing so defensively. A trequartista needs players to pass to him, just like a striker. Which is why we saw Bacca nullified today, too.

The scourge of social media
But I digress. I haven’t even gotten to the part with the shoes, so much better to talk about than those terrifying kits. Balotelli got the start, which meant it was time for the Hack-a-Balo show to resume. And when that earned a free kick early on, Balotelli took it in the 5th minute and reminded people why they hate him… or love him… or hate him, I can never keep it straight with these Milan fans. 1-0 Milan. And like a good big brother, De Jong went over and forced Balotelli’s face into a smile. You know, lest he should be fined for not smiling when he scored. I know I was smiling. I have missed those exquisite free kicks. He was so beast the whole match, he even broke a corner flag. He was certainly my man of the match.

Next, it was Bonaventura’s turn. In the 10th minute, Montolivo sent a long ball forward, and though it wasn’t a great pass, Bonaventura was able to chest it down and sent it into the back of the net. 2-0 Milan. This is of note as he was surely blinded by those repugnant kits everyone was wearing, so he deserves extra credit. But he also got the assist when, in the first minute of stoppage time of the first half, he sent in a beautiful corner for Zapata, who headed it in as he was falling backward. 3-0 Milan. What a scoreline.

From a Montolivo long ball... even more impressive
But the other shoe was subbed on for Piris, and then things got really dangerous for Milan. Although our boys played well, Udinese seemed even more hungry, and in the second half, they pinned us back. I’m sure most of it was the visual disorientation from having to stare at each other in those repulsive kits. But after Alex was subbed on four minutes in, it was only two minutes before Badu found the back of the net to make it 3-1 Milan. And just seven minutes later, to make sure both shoes scored, Duvan Zapata made it 3-2 Milan.

There were yellow cards galore, nine in all, with Fernandes getting two and thus being sent off in stoppage time. That’s a lot of cards, but it was a physical game. And who knows what the card situation would have been like if Doveri and his team didn’t have to stare at those abominable third kits? It’s a miracle everyone survived, and that any of us have any eyesight left.

A header from a shoe. Awesome.
For me, this was an ugly win. And not just those vomitous kits, either. There is some consistency, in that the players are playing hard each time, but it has yet to be truly convincing. It feels like we are on a tightrope with these performances, and I, for one, am afraid of heights. Going away to Genoa this weekend with the injuries we’re carrying will be another test to see if this mentality truly is starting to stick. Let’s hope we get to wear the white kits, for the sake of all humanity. And let’s just be grateful that Genoa doesn’t have a Zapata of their own, to cancel out the brilliance of our own shoe. We learned two valuable lessons tonight: never ever ever ever ever ever ever wear those heinous kits ever again, and never play with two shoes, either, they cancel each other out.

This post inspired by Eric Litwin’s “Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes”

Our next match is
Genoa vs. Milan
Sunday, September 27 • 12:30 CEST (6:30am EDT)

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Udinese 2, Milan 3: Two Shoes Udinese 2, Milan 3: Two Shoes Reviewed by Elaine on 11:14 PM Rating: 5
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