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Milan 0, Napoli 4: Annihilated


If you’ve watched Milan’s downward spiral in terms of performances this season, and especially if you’ve seen Napoli’s results spiraling upwards, then tonight’s loss should not surprise you. You might even say Milan got our just desserts. The score, however, was like kicking a man when he’s down, with the own goal just another kick in the face. But as usual, the defeat is nothing in comparison to the rhetoric of Milan fans on the interwebs. It’s hard enough to lose a game like that, but when your fans toss around hyperbole and call for everyone’s heads on platters, it’s just embarrassing. It was a very poor game, a logical step based on our recent performances. And certainly with fans like this, the team must feel like they’ve been annihilated.

Annihilated.

The first bullet was a goal by Allan in the 13th minute. Blame Montolivo for making the backpass when it wasn’t prudent, or blame Zapata for passing it to Napoli, or blame our entire defense for being caught sleeping, but no matter who you blame, the goal still counted. 1-0 Napoli. And that was supposed to be our better 45 minutes.

The second half brought about the complete decimation of our team. An Insigne goal in the 48th to make it 2-0. Then an exquisite Insigne free kick in the 68th, the kind we’d be in awe of if it didn’t add insult to injury. 3-0 Napoli. And the icing on the cake when Ely scored an own goal trying to clear Higuain’s shot in the 79th. 4-0 Napoli. The biggest margin they’ve ever defeated us by. Yeah. Annihilated.

It was great to see this guy back. If all of our 11 fought as hard as him, the score could have been quite different.

But why? Well I gave you my theory on our midfield starting options. Montolivo started with a wild shot from distance salute to Boateng, who was in the stands with Muntari, so he also made sure to slow things down and lose the ball a lot, in honor of the ex-Milan midfielder. Just watch how the "captain" forces everyone to play wide, like leaving them up against the wall. Or how he barely can be bothered to jog, so everyone else slowed down, too. Bonaventura was rendered virtually useless yet again at that trequartista position. I’d chalk it up to lack of experience, except he has played there before for other teams, and his forced positioning said it all. It all turned too quickly into a nightmare at San Siro.

It’s too bad Zapata didn’t realize that Baresi and Maldini were both in the stands. Or maybe he did and he wanted to give a poor performance to show how much we miss them? I don’t know, but his inconsistency absolutely kills me. And speaking of inconsistency, whomever said that Bacca and Adriano have a good strike partnership, I’d like to see some evidence. Despite the lack of service due to our midfield playing balls wide only to lose them and/or lobbing the ball up hoping it reaches someone, they couldn’t find each other with a flashlight in the sunshine if they were the only ones on the pitch. Which may have actually helped the scoreline, as Adriano was probably our best defender, often playing very deep and making clearances like we’d like to see him score goals.

When their defense is catching arguably our fastest player, the ending wasn't going to be pretty.

Mihajlovic humbly admitted Napoli were the better team. Yeah, you think? Look at their talent at pretty much every position. They’ve been playing together longer. And their captain isn’t called Montolivo. I’ve laid out stats and tactics previously as to why this downturn in our form has coincided with his return, but I cannot emphasize enough my theory that he is the most pivotal thing affecting our mentality right now. From what he says in press conferences (especially about his teammates,) to the way he carries himself, the way he plays, and his excessive use of the anti-grinta on the pitch, he is dragging our team down. We may have seen defensive epic fails, horrible passes, and other mistakes in this match, but he is the eye of the storm. And though some of his stats sometimes look good, they don’t tell the whole story, and are often at the expense of everyone else on the team as well as the result. I know De Jong may not play as creatively, and he’s had his share of lesser performances, too, but he always amps up the grinta. The players work harder and play with more confidence when he is the captain and the regista. And our short game and possession are exponentially improved, too.

I am not sure why Mihajlovic doesn’t see this, other than when you are thinking tactics, you don’t see something like this that is plain as the nose on your face. But being riddled with injuries is not an excuse to play like this. And I guarantee you that if we had to lose 4-0 with De Jong on the pitch, at least we would lose with honor and dignity.

Blocking shots instead of taking them... the best defense is to use your offense? Not sure that's how it goes.

Chalk it up to tactics, lineup, mentality, injuries, or that Napoli were simply the better team. Or all of the above. But it doesn’t change the scoreline or the fact that we have Allegri’s level of fail breathing down our necks now on the table. It’s not time to fire Mihajlovic. It’s not time to argue about who played the worst or lament about injuries or what else we could have done. It is time to mourn the further loss of our dignity and then pick ourselves back up and support this team. Even if it seems futile. Because losing 4-0 on the pitch at home is shameful enough. But what I’ve been reading from some Milan fans leaves me annihilated.


This post inspired by the music of Lush