So Milan sent Carpi out of the Coppa Italia, and Carpi sent Fiorentina out of the Coppa Italia. Does that mean Milan will beat Fiorentina on Sunday? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The match today was very encouraging, and we got the result, too. But Carpi are 19th on the table in Serie A, we were supposed to beat them in December and we couldn’t. Winning today was certainly a step up, but we will have to win a two-leg semifinal with either a Serie B side or a Lega Pro side to get to the final. And while Lazio, Napoli, Inter, and Juventus battle for the other semifinal spot, Milan were given the task of conquering the minnows.
|Do we really need to celebrate like minnows?|
The first half was so exciting. Milan looked alive and fought to score at every turn. Which paid off for Bacca in the 14th as he took the assist from Honda, caught Brkic off his line, and scored with a rabona. 1-0 Milan. He’s lucky it went in this time, because if you’ll remember earlier this season, it didn’t and Mihajlovic was very vocal about needing to score if he attempted it. So everyone seemed happy this time, except for Carpi. They were in for a tough match.
Bacca would return to haunt them in the 28th, with an assist on Niang’s goal to make it 2-0. But the numbers don’t tell you how confident the team looked, how easily & how well they played together. Or how many really good individual performances there were. The stats I found showed Milan with 12 shots, eight on goal, an almost miraculous improvement in efficiency on goal. It was almost as if they had a coach who knew what he was doing.
|Brkic is going to feel that one in the morning|
The second half started poorly, a switch in their routine of playing poorly in the first half and then picking it up for the second half. And Carpi took advantage of it when Mancosu, having been subbed on for the illustrious Captain Zaccardo at the half, scored in the 50th to make it 2-1 Milan. But the guys fought not only to defend their lead, but also to try to score again until the final moment. It wasn’t the Milan we remember, but it was very much improved, particularly mentally, from what we’ve seen the past few years.
So we went from a brutally painful draw at the beginning of December with this minnow team to winning pretty convincingly in less than six weeks. Was it progress? Or just luck? I like to think it was the first, because despite some setback, it seems like there has been some slow and steady improvement from last summer. Especially in the mentality and the ability to work as a team. Even Zapata couldn’t screw this one up, although he tried. Like in the 28th, when Lasagna’s goal was shot after the whistle blew, but were it not for the ref, Zapata’s error would have cost us dearly.
|See, now that's a great celebration|
Now we face Fiorentina on Sunday in the league and wait to learn which minnow we’ll need to dispatch to earn the trip to Rome for the final. Winning would of course give us a ticket to the Europa League, of course, but it would give this team a much needed psychological boost, too. Although I don’t like our chances with any of the teams on the other side of the bracket. So let’s just enjoy this small victory and go back to utilizing our newly acquired skill: conquering the minnows.
This post inspired by the music of Robbie Williams’ “Beyond the Sea”
Our next match is
Milan vs. Fiorentina
Sunday, January 17 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)