Milan are back at the San Siro again tomorrow to welcome Alessandria, The Little Team that Could, for the second leg of the Coppa Italia semifinals. Milan also have an away goal, leading 1-0 on aggregate to start off with. Certainly nothing is guaranteed, but given the facts going in to the match, it would almost be criminal if Milan don’t take advantage of the things stacked in their favor. A berth in the final is ours for the taking.
|Despite coming in with every advantage, there's 90 minutes left to play before celebrating|
When we first faced Alessandria, they sat in second place in Lega Pro and were coming off of two wins. Since then, they have fallen to fifth place in the league, and their recent form is D-L-W-D-L, with that last loss coming vs. Bassano Virtus at Alessandria’s home stadium on Saturday. Not the best way to go into a match where your team is already a serious underdog. For their loss on Saturday, Gregucci lined up Vanucchi, Sosa, Terigi, Sperotto, Mezavilla, Vitofrancesco, Nicco, Iocolano, Guerriera, Bocalon, and Marras. But never underestimate an underdog. They have everything to win and absolutely nothing to lose. In fact even a loss at the San Siro for these players will be a victory for them, just to have played the game.
On the flip side, Milan face increasing pressure to get to the Coppa Italia final. Which everyone knows will be against Juve, as they hold a 3-0 aggregate score going into Wednesday’s second leg against Inter, and also beat them 2-0 in the league on Sunday. So Milan are fighting for the right to play against Juve in the final at the end of the season, not knowing how many injuries they may or may not have, whether fighting to win another league title or playing in the Champions League will have taken enough out of Juve to give us even the smallest chance at a Coppa Italia title.
|MOAR MAURI PLS|
But I digress. We still have 90 minutes of football to play on Tuesday against a Cinderella story Lega Pro side who could easily grab themselves a penalty like we did, and maybe hold out and then take us on penalties. Stranger things have happened before, and are more likely to happen considering that Mihajlovic will undoubtedly use a lot of bench players again. Particularly the way they played in the first leg. Sure, Milan have been playing more convincingly, and getting the results, too. But that’s with mainly the same starting eleven.
Then you consider the fact that we’re in our home stadium. A stadium that could seat almost the entire town of Alessandria. But they still brought 20,000 fans to the first leg, while the attendance at Saturday’s Milan game was only 33,748. Their fans support their team by taking 40 busses to a “home” match, our fans finally decided to show banners to support their team on Saturday after years of discontent and shameless boycotting. So if it were a match of the fans, we would be crashing out for sure.
|If Alessandria have half as much heart as their fans, Milan could easily get knocked out|
On paper, this match is ours for the taking. But as Mihajlovic always says, matches aren’t won on paper, they are won on the pitch. Which means it’s still anyone’s game. With some confident results and an away goal going into this match, it would be easy to be confident of progressing to the final. And with Alessandria kind of going the opposite way, perhaps it would seem even more Milan’s game to lose. But I have to respect that little team from that town of 90,000 and their amazing fans, and have watched enough football to know that anything is possible in 90 minutes. I hope it is Milan’s dream that comes true, but the game is certainly not out of reach for Alessandria. So the game is actually anyone’s for the taking.
This post inspired by the music of The Distillers
Coppa Italia Semifinal Leg 2
Milan vs. Alessandria
Tuesday, March 1 • 21:00 CET (3pm EST)
This match is being shown LIVE on GOLTV USA in the US
Or you can stream it on fuboTV w/a free 24 hour pass